Tens of thousands demand resignation of government

Decrying what they say were rigged elections last year, tens of thousands of Pakistanis gathered in their nation’s capital on Saturday to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government.

The protests – two rallies led by cricket star turned politician Imran Khan and cleric Tahirul Qadri – were called to challenge the results of May 2013 elections that set in motion the first transfer of power from one civilian government to another since Pakistan gained independence in 1947.

Khan and Qadri had vowed to bring 1 million followers each into the streets of Islamabad. However, police put the total number of marchers at roughly 50,000 by Saturday evening after heavy rains that brought misery to the protesters, many of whom had slept outdoors.

An estimated 32,000 police officers and paramilitary forces were deployed to secure the capital. Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan said the government had tightened security after intelligence agencies received reports that terrorists were planning to carry out suicide attacks on the rallies.

KABUL, Afghanistan

Red Cross seeking release of abducted staff members

The International Committee of the Red Cross in Afghanistan is trying to secure the release of five of their staff members who were abducted in the western Herat province, a spokesman said Saturday.

The employees were traveling by road on Friday when they were detained by a local armed group, said Marek Resich, an ICRC spokesman.

The aid workers were delivering sheep to local villages when they were stopped by the gunmen, said Raouf Ahmadi, a police spokesman in Herat province.

He said the gunmen took both the workers and the sheep, which could indicate that the abduction was part of a robbery as opposed to a militant attack.

Militants carry out near-daily attacks in Afghanistan, usually targeting security forces.

But recent attacks have rattled civilian aid workers. On July 24, gunmen opened fire on two Finnish aid workers in the city of Herat, killing them both.


Seahawks fans among ferry passengers left at terminal

A Seattle-bound Washington state ferry mistakenly loaded with 484 more passengers than it was rated to carry had to return to the dock and leave the overflow at the Bremerton ferry terminal late Friday afternoon as Seattle Seahawks fans tried to reach a preseason game.

Staff apparently thought the ferry could carry 1,600 passengers when its capacity is 1,200, Washington State Ferries spokeswoman Marta Coursey said.

– From news service reports