News in brief

Britain’s security services thwart nine plots in past year

LONDON, December 5 (Reuters): Britain has thwarted nine plots in the last 12 months, Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman said on Tuesday, after senior ministers were briefed by the head of the MI5 security service Andrew Parker. “Parker said that nine terrorist attacks had been prevented in the last year,” the spokesman said, detailing a presentation given to cabinet members on the current threat facing Britain.


Bus bomb kills eight in Syria

BEIRUT, December 5 (Reuters): A bomb blast killed eight people and injured 16 others on a bus in Syria’s Homs on Tuesday, state media said, citing the city’s health authority. Many of the passengers were university students, Homs Governor Talal Barazi told state-run Ikhbariya TV. The blast in the government-held city hit the Akrama district, near al-Baath university. Footage showed people crowding around the burned shell of a vehicle in the middle of a street. State television said “a bomb that terrorists planted in a passenger bus exploded”. Islamic State claimed responsibility for a similar attack in Homs in May, when a car bomb killed four people and injured 32 others. A string of bombings have struck cities under government control in Syria this year, including the capital Damascus. The Tahrir al-Sham alliance — led by fighters formerly linked to al-Qaeda — has also claimed some of the deadly attacks. “Security agencies are constantly chasing sleeper cells,” the Homs police chief said on Ikhbariya. “Today, it could be a sleeper cell or it could be an infiltration.” Barazi, the governor, said the state’s enemies were trying to target stability as “the stage of victory” drew near. The city of Homs went back under full government control in May, for the first time since the onset of Syria’s conflict more than six years ago.


Record-breaking nine-hour rainbow appears in Taiwan

Taipei, December 5 (IANS): A record-breaking nine-hour rainbow appeared in the Taiwanese capital of Taipei, the media reported on Tuesday. “It was amazing… It felt like a gift from the sky… It’s so rare!” Chou Kun-hsuan, a professor at the Chinese Culture University’s Department of Atmospheric Sciences, told CNN. Chou and a second professor, Liu Ching-huang, led the efforts to document the rainbow with the help of the department’s students and the campus community. Their observations, pictures and video recordings showed the rainbow lasted from 6.57 a.m. until 3.55 p.m. — eight hours and 58 minutes. If confirmed, it would shatter the previous record for the longest-lasting rainbow, set in Yorkshire, England, on March 14, 1994, which was recorded as lasting six hours, according to the Guinness World Records. Rainbows typically last much less than an hour, according to the Guinness website.


Spain makes largest cocaine bust in 18 years

MADRID, December 5 (Reuters): Spain has made its largest cocaine bust in 18 years, the Interior Ministry said on Tuesday, after more than 5,800 kg of the drug were discovered on a container ship travelling from Medellin in Colombia. The ship, stopped in the southern port of Algeciras, was carrying bananas from Colombia to El Prat de Llobregat, the location of the international airport in Catalonia, the ministry said. Three people had been arrested in relation to the haul, including the Spanish head of the import company using the container, and more arrests have not been ruled out with at least two more under investigation, it said. The cocaine, which was discovered Nov. 28 and had a street value of some 210 million euros ($250 million), was divided into 1 kg blocks and marked to identify its eventual distribution to a number of destinations and organisations, the ministry said.