Pakistan volleyball bombing kills 88
LAKI MARWAT, Pakistan, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- A suicide bomber killed scores of people Friday during a volleyball game in Laki Marwat, a city in northwest Pakistan, police said.
Police said the bomber drove a truck packed with explosives onto the sports field in Laki Marwat, The Times of London reported. The confirmed death toll climbed rapidly during the day with the Times putting it at 88. Most of the victims were children as young as 12, the newspaper said.
Anwer Khan, 18, told The Times he saw a black pick-up truck head toward the spectators. "A giant flame leaped toward the sky," Khan said. "There was bright light everywhere, just like a flash, and then a very huge blast shook everything. Two pellets hit my forehead and blood started flowing."
The city is near South Waziristan, where government forces have been battling Taliban militants, and the attack marked the latest retaliation for the Pakistani military's offensive. More than 500 people have been killed in bombings and other terrorist attacks since the campaign began in October.
"The locality has been a hub of militants. Locals set up a militia and expelled the militants from this area," police Chief Ayub Khan said. "This attack seems to be a reaction to their expulsion."
Khan said some victims might still be trapped in houses that had collapsed in the crowded neighborhood around the sports field. The number of wounded was also high.
Clinton condemns Pakistan terrorist attack
WASHINGTON, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton Friday denounced the Pakistan terrorist attack that killed nearly 90 people, most of them children.
"The United States strongly condemns today's terrorist attack on civilians in Pakistan, and we offer our condolences to the families of the victims and all the people of Pakistan," Clinton said.
Her comments came after a suicide bomber drove a truck filled with explosives onto a sports field during a volleyball came in Laki Marwat, a city in northwest Pakistan.
"The Pakistani people have seen terrorists target schools, markets, mosques and now a volleyball game," the secretary said.
"The United States will continue to stand with the people of Pakistan in their efforts to chart their own future free from fear and intimidation, and will support their efforts to combat violent extremism and bolster democracy."
The attack occurred near the Waziristan tribal region, believed to be home to Taliban and al-Qaida training bases, where government forces have been battling Taliban militants.
Intruder at Danish cartoonist's home shot
AARHUS, Denmark, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- Danish police said they wounded a man Friday at the home of Kurt Westergaard, the cartoonist who drew Muslims' anger with his drawings of the Prophet Mohammed.
The Guardian said Danish media reported a 27-year-old Somali armed with a knife and ax broke a window on the Aarhus-area home of the 74-year-old cartoonist about 10 p.m. and tried to get in.
East Jutland Police Chief superintendent Morten Jensen said when officers arrived, the man tried to attack one of them with the ax and he was shot in his right leg and his left arm. Jensen said the wounds were not serious and he was in custody.
Westergaard ignited a firestorm in the Muslim world in 2005 when the Jyllands-Posten newspaper published his drawing depicting Mohammed wearing a turban shaped like a bomb with a fuse. The drawing was considered a serious affront by Muslims, who believe no image of the prophet should be produced or shown.
Jyllands-Posten quoted Westergaard as saying the intruder "threatened to kill me."
"I ran out to the bathroom where our security room is. I was worried for my grandchild. I was afraid," he said. "I knew that I could not match him. So I alerted the police. It was scary. It was really close. But we did it. It was good."
Ignorance may have saved Flight 253
DETROIT, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- The alleged Northwest airline bomber's lack of knowledge about the chemistry of his explosives may have averted a disaster in American skies, experts say.
The chemical powder in Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's explosive and the liquid in the syringe, meant to set it off, had a slim chance of causing a successful detonation, the Detroit Free Press reported Friday.
One expert thinks whoever planned the attack lacked sufficient knowledge of the chemistry of the substances involved.
"I think they just had not done enough research on how to get it to go off," said Jimmie Oxley, a professor of chemistry at the University of Rhode Island. "I hate to say that because it's like throwing down a gauntlet, saying, 'Hey, you need to study more,' but I think it's true."
The explosive powder, pentaerythritol tetranitrate, or PETN, needs more than just fire to ignite. A wick or fuse is required, experts say, but either would be detected by current airport security methods, the Free Press reported.
"These guys aren't rocket scientists," said retired Drug Enforcement Administration special agent Gregory D. Lee. "Suicide bombers don't grow on trees. And by definition alone, everybody you get has no experience in doing such things."
Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian who claims ties to al-Qaida, was charged with attempting to ignite an explosive on the Christmas Day flight bound from the Netherlands to Detroit.
2nd passenger questioned in terror attempt
DET, Mich., Jan. 1 (UPI) -- A second passenger aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 was handcuffed and searched after the failed Christmas Day terror attack, federal officials said.
The Detroit News reports a canine alerted police to something in the man's carry-on luggage, prompting authorities to question and search him before releasing him.
Ronald Smith, chief U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer for the Detroit area, in an e-mail to the News, apologized that accurate information on the incident had not been available earlier, the newspaper reported.
After a couple aboard the flight reported seeing someone other than terror suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab being handcuffed, Smith initially had said the second person was from another flight.
In his e-mail, copied to the couple, Kurt and Lori Haskell of Taylor, Smith said he had received new information and hoped it would "clear up the matter."
The couple said the man, who appeared to be of Indian descent, was taken into a room for questioning and later came out handcuffed.
The man was interviewed and searched but not arrested, Smith said.
At least 45 dead in Brazil landslides
RIO DE JANEIRO, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- Landslides in the Rio de Janeiro area triggered by heavy rains caused at least 45 deaths, Argentine government officials said Friday.
Brasil Online reported initial reports from officials indicated the 22 killed in one landslide at Angra dos Reis included at least a dozen tourists.
Jornal do Brasil reported search-and-rescue efforts had been suspended for the night and were to resume Saturday. Rio de Janeiro state Gov. Sergio Cabral, who declared three days of morning, was expected to reach the disaster scene in the morning.
CNN reported a giant mudslide came down on the Sankay Inn resort at Angra dos Reis about 4:30 a.m., killing 22 and injuring two dozen more State officials said 15 more bodies were found floating on the nearby island of Ilha Grande. Others reportedly died in smaller landslides.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said he would dispatch military personnel to help carry out rescue and relief efforts in remote coastal areas where more bodies were believed to be trapped.