THOUSANDS more children may have been separated from their families at the US-Mexico border than previously reported.

Officials are said to have been increasing family separations long before the policy that prompted international outrage last spring.

Health and Human Services, the agency tasked with caring for migrant children, said there could have been thousands of undocumented separations, but the agency did not adequately track the numbers until after a judge ruled children must be reunited with their families.

Lee Gelernt, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who sued on behalf of a mother separated from her son, said the policy “was a cruel disaster from the start”.

MEANWHILE, a centre-left minority government has been formed in Sweden after a four-month deadlock.

The Social Democrats’ Stefan Löfven will lead a second term, backed by the Greens but without the Left Party, the third member of their campaign bloc.

Compromises were made over labour laws to win support from two centre-right parties, causing irritations from the Social Democrats’ union backers and the Left Party.

The National:

Politicians have been trying to form a government without the Swedish Democrats, the country’s third largest party, which has neo-nazi roots.

Jan Bjorklund of the Liberals, whose party supported the arrangement by abstaining, cited racist and populist parties around the world, saying “we have chosen another path”.

ELSEWHERE, the ailing radical cleric who inspired the Bali bombers is to be released from prison halfway through his term, Indonesia’s president has said.

Abu Bakar Bashir was given a 15-year jail sentence in June 2011 but is expected to be released no later than next week.

Bashir’s lawyer said he “badly needs serious health care”.

The National:

The announcement comes during a presidential election campaign in which opponents of President Joko Widodo have tried to discredit him as insufficiently Islamic.

The leader told reporters: “This release was decided because of humanitarian considerations and also related to his healthcare.”

FINALLY, a “total internet shutdown” in Zimbabwe has come amid a violent crackdown on people protesting a dramatic rise in fuel prices.

Responding to the government’s order, the country’s largest telecom company, Econet, said it was “beyond our reasonable control”.

Evan Mawarire, who is accused of inciting civil disobedience online, said it is “heartbreaking” to see the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa acting like former leader Robert Mugabe.