Abu Sayyaf may have killed hostage
MANILA • The Philippine military has been verifying reports that Islamist militants have killed a male German hostage after the authorities failed to pay ransom before the set deadline.
The Abu Sayyaf group abducted Mr Juergen Kantner, 70, last November when he was sailing with his wife Sabine Merz on a yacht in Malaysian waters. Ms Merz was shot dead.
The group demanded a 30 million peso (S$840,000) ransom for Mr Kantner's release. The deadline was 3pm yesterday.
Jakarta run-off election confirmed
JAKARTA • The election commission yesterday announced the official results of the Feb 15 Jakarta governor election, which were largely consistent with voting-day quick-count figures.
Incumbent Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama received 42.99 per cent of the votes, followed by challenger Anies Baswedan with 39.95 per cent, and Mr Agus Yudhoyono with 17.05 per cent. The commission confirmed a run-off election for the two leading candidates, as none won at least 50 per cent of the votes.
The run-off polls will be held on April 19.
Plant trees, says Taleban leader
KABUL • Taleban leader Haibatullah Akhundzada, whose predecessor was killed in a US drone strike in Pakistan last May, has called on Afghans to plant trees as spring approaches, in a rare public statement on the group's website yesterday, amid fears of another bloody fighting season.
Spring traditionally marks the start of the fighting season for the insurgents, described as their annual "Spring offensive". Mr Sediq Sediqqi, the Interior Ministry's spokesman, responded by saying the Taleban should stop planting bombs instead.