Nation briefs 10/20/06

Friday, October 20, 2006

Panda cub bites off part of tourist's thumb

BEIJING -- A panda cub bit off part of the thumb of an American visitor who was feeding the animal at a reserve in southwest China, state media reported Thursday. The 50-year-old woman, identified only as Lisa, had registered in the Wolong Giant Panda Protection and Research Center in Sichuan province as a volunteer, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. She was wearing gloves and feeding the panda bamboo on Tuesday morning when "suddenly, the panda bit into her thumb," Xinhua said. About 20 percent of the thumb had been bitten off, Xinhua said.

Wild elephants kill 5 people in Bangladesh

DHAKA, Bangladesh -- A herd of wild elephants rampaged through a village in southeastern Bangladesh early Thursday, killing five members of one family, including two children, police said. The victims were asleep in their thatched hut when the elephants trampled them to death at Bashkhali village in Chittagong district, said police chief Zahirul Islam. A herd of about 12 elephants had been foraging in a nearby forest when they approached the village, 136 miles southeast of the capital of Dhaka, and destroyed more than a dozen huts, Islam said. Villagers used torches to scare the animals away, he said. It was not clear what sparked the rampage.

Remains from WTC site found by utility workers

NEW YORK -- Human remains from the World Trade Center site have been found by utility workers, a city official said Thursday. Consolidated Edison workers found remains at the downtown Manhattan site, took them to a natural gas vehicle fueling station more than a mile to the north and then called the medical examiner's office to have them identified, office spokeswoman Ellen Borakove said. "The remains came from down there," Borakove said, referring to the trade center site. "How they got to 29th Street and 11th Avenue, I don't know." She said she didn't know when the remains were found. It was unclear what condition the remains were in or how complete they were. The area was roped off Thursday, and investigators were sifting through dirt under a white tarp. Five years after 2,749 people died in the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attacks, families of about 1,150 victims still do not know whether their loved ones' remains were recovered.

Texas death row inmate commits suicide

LIVINGSTON, Texas -- A convicted killer facing lethal injection beat the executioner to it Thursday, committing suicide by slitting his throat and arm with a blade in his Texas death row cell 15 hours before he was supposed to die. Michael Dewayne Johnson, 29, was found in a pool of blood by officers making routine checks on him every 15 minutes, authorities said. He was pronounced dead at a hospital. Johnson apparently scrawled words in blood on the wall of his cell, but prison officials would not say what he wrote. He is at least the seventh condemned man in Texas to take his own life since death row reopened in 1974.

Suicide bomber kills 2 children in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan -- A suicide bomber killed two children and wounded several other people, including British troops, in southern Afghanistan on Thursday and President Hamid Karzai called on NATO forces to use caution during military operations, a day after 20 civilians were killed. NATO's International Security Assistance Force said the suicide attack in the town of Lashkar Gah in Helmand province wounded "a small number" of British soldiers. The bomber, who was on foot and targeting the British troops, killed two children -- a boy and a girl both younger than 8 -- and wounded seven civilians, said Ghulam Muhiddin, the spokesman for Helmand's governor.

-- From wire reports

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