NEWS

In Brief

RESIDENCE PERMITS

Privacy watchdog asks ministry to stop religion and origin queries Greece's privacy watchdog has asked the Interior Ministry to stop asking non-EU citizens their religion and national origin on residence permit application forms. In a ruling made public yesterday, the Hellenic Data Protection Authority (APPD) said that these questions should be removed from all application forms as they have to do with sensitive information that people should not be required to give out. The APPD also said that the Interior Ministry should delete from its records any information about the national origin or religion of previous applicants. NUN MURDERS Two suspected drug addicts sought in connection with double killing Police are looking for two suspected drug addicts in connection with the alleged murder of two nuns at the Artocosta Monastery near Astros, northeastern Peloponnese, sources said yesterday. The nuns, aged 59 and 85, were found dead on Tuesday. Sources said that the two suspects lived in the area and sometimes assisted the nuns. The suspected addicts have been missing since Tuesday. A coroner was examining the bodies of the nuns yesterday. It is not clear if they were strangled or stabbed to death. POPULATION HIKE Rise caused by immigration Greece's population increased by 43,900 this year, according to statistics made public yesterday by the European Commission's statistics service Eurostat. The rise brought Greece's population to 11,169,100 on January 1 of this year, Eurostat figures showed. The service attributed the increase chiefly to immigration. Bear necessities Conservationists have placed a tracking collar around the neck of a 180-kilo brown bear that has been wandering the Northern Pindus Mountain Range in northern Greece. Members of the Callisto group said that the device allows them to monitor the bear's movements via satellite technology. The animal was spotted near Grevena when it vwas looking for honey at a bee farm. The bear was shot with a tranquilizer gun so the tracking collar could be put on. Information about the bear's movements will be analyzed to see if it is affected by the construction of the Panaghia-Grevena stretch of the Egnatia Highway, which will pass near the bear's natural habitat in the Northern Pindus national park. Kos traffickers Two residents of the eastern Aegean island of Kos have been arrested after being caught transporting illegal immigrants, police said yesterday. The two men, aged 55 and 23, were carrying 15 migrants from Afghanistan who had just been smuggled onto the island from nearby Turkey. Police seized the cars and mobile phones of the two suspects. Meanwhile, authorities on the island of Samos detained 16 immigrants from Somalia who did not have identification papers. Cyprus bases Britain's Minister for Europe Geoff Hoon said yesterday that London would be open to discussing the size of its military bases on Cyprus but not withdrawing troops. «The position of the British bases is clear legally,» Hoon said after talks with Cypriot Foreign Minister Giorgos Lillikas. But Hoon told reporters in Nicosia that «the range and extent of those bases are something we are always willing to discuss with friends.» Hoon also had talks in Athens yesterday with Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis. Valinakis said Southeast Europe could become «a European neighborhood fueling cooperating and security for all.» Train collision The driver of a car was injured yesterday when he crashed his vehicle into a train at a level crossing near Ptolemaida in northern Greece, the Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE) said. The accident occurred at 12.50 p.m. The driver was not named and no details of his condition were made public. Nobody on board the Amyntaio-Kozani train was injured and normal service resumed after the accident. Arson attacks Arsonists set fire to a branch of the National Bank in Zografou, eastern Athens, early yesterday, police said. The assailants threw a Molotov cocktail at the building. Nobody was injured. Meanwhile, a car belonging to the Public Works Ministry was set on fire at 2.10 a.m. outside the Pedion tou Areos park in central Athens. Nobody was in the vehicle at the time.

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