Saudi faces rising criticism after mass execution

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AFP) — Saudi Arabia faced worldwide criticism Wednesday for its mass execution of a group made up mostly of people from the kingdom’s Shiite Muslim minority, some of whom the UN said were minors when charged. UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet condemned Riyadh’s Tuesday execution of 37 Saudi nationals, saying “it was particularly abhorrent that at least three of those killed were minors at the time of their sentencing”. The EU […]

North Korea’s Kim arrives in Russia for summit with Putin

by Anna MALPAS VLADIVOSTOK, Russia (AFP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un crossed the border into Russia Wednesday for the first summit with Vladimir Putin, as Pyongyang seeks closer ties with its traditional ally amid a nuclear deadlock with the United States. The meeting on Thursday in the Pacific coast city of Vladivostok will be Kim’s first face-to-face talks with another head of state since his talks with US President Donald Trump in Hanoi […]

Saudi in mass execution of 37 convicted of ‘terrorism’

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AFP) — Saudi Arabia on Tuesday executed 37 of its citizens convicted of terrorism, three years after another mass execution that ultimately led to a break in relations with Iran. The latest executions were carried out in Riyadh, the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina, the predominantly Sunni province of Qassim, and in the Eastern Province, home to the country’s Shiite minority. The men were executed “for adopting terrorist and extremist […]

Islamic State group claims Sri Lanka suicide bombings

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AFP) — The Islamic State group on Tuesday claimed responsibility for a devastating series of suicide attacks against churches and hotels in Sri Lanka that killed more than 320 people. The claim, accompanied by a photo and video of the men the group said had unleashed the carnage, emerged more than 48 hours after the near-simultaneous blasts ripped through three high-end hotels popular with foreigners and three churches packed with Christians marking […]

N.Korea’s Kim heads to Russia for Putin summit: KCNA

by Sunghee Hwang SEOUL, South Korea (AFP) —┬áNorth Korean leader Kim Jong Un departed for Russia Wednesday for a first summit with Vladimir Putin, as Pyongyang seeks closer ties with its traditional ally amid a nuclear deadlock with the United States. The meeting will be Kim’s first face-to-face talks with another head of state since returning from his Hanoi summit with US President Donald Trump, which broke down without a deal on the North’s nuclear […]

Strong 6.1-magnitude earthquake rocks NE India: USGS

NEW DELHI, United States (AFP) — A strong 6.1-magnitude earthquake struck India’s northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh early Wednesday, the US Geological Survey said. The epicenter of the shallow quake was about 40 kilometers (25 miles) southeast of Along, and 180 kilometers southwest of the state capital Itanagar. It struck at 1:45 am (2015 GMT Tuesday). Arunachal Pradesh is India’s least densely populated state, but is still home to more than 1.2 million people, according […]

Toll in Sri Lanka blasts rises to 310: police spokesman

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AFP) — The toll from a string of deadly suicide bomb attacks in Sri Lanka has risen to 310, with several people dying of their injuries overnight, a police spokesman said Tuesday. Around 500 people were wounded in the blasts, Ruwan Gunasekera said in a statement. He added that 40 people were now under arrest in connection with the attacks, which Sri Lanka’s government has blamed on a previously little-known local Islamist […]

N. Korea confirms Kim ‘soon’ to visit Russia: KCNA

SEOUL, South Korea (AFP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will “soon” visit Russia for his first summit with President Vladimir Putin, state media reported Tuesday, confirming a Kremlin announcement. Kim “will soon pay a visit to the Russian Federation at the invitation” of Putin, North Korea’s official KCNA news service said. “They will have talks during this visit,” the brief dispatch added. KCNA did not specify when or where the pair would meet. […]

Trump calls Sri Lanka PM to express condolences over attacks

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — US President Donald Trump called Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Monday to express condolences over the killing of nearly 300 people in suicide bomb blasts at churches and hotels. The attacks on Easter Sunday, which Sri Lankan authorities believe were carried out by a local Islamist group, were “one of the deadliest terrorist events since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States,” White House spokesman Hogan […]

Sri Lanka imposes state of emergency after attacks blamed on Islamists

by Poornima Weerasekara in Colombo and Peter Hutchison in Negombo COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AFP) — Sri Lanka on Tuesday imposed a state of emergency hours after the government blamed a local Islamist group for a series of suicide bomb blasts that killed at least 290 people, including dozens of foreigners. Twenty-four people have been arrested over the Easter Sunday assault on three churches and three hotels in the capital Colombo and elsewhere, authorities said. The […]

North Korea’s Kim heads to Russia to revive old friendship

  by Sebastien BERGER in Pyongyang / Claire LEE in Seoul Agence France Presse PYONGYANG, North Korea (AFP) — On the neighbouring mound to Mansu hill, where giant statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il look out over North Korea’s capital, stands the Liberation Tower. The star-topped stone obelisk has a bronze Soviet Union flag at its base and and a panel showing Soviet and Korean troops going into battle together against the […]

Sri Lanka Easter attack toll hits 290

by Ishara Kodikara in Colombo and Lakruwan Wanniarachchi in Batticaloa At least 290 are now known to have died in a series of bomb blasts that tore through churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka, in the worst violence to hit the island since its devastating civil war ended a decade ago. Eight apparently co-ordinated explosions targeted Easter worshippers and high end hotels popular with international guests. The horrific death toll, which has risen dramatically […]