Australia and Oceania

Australia says top IS recruiter killed in US air strike

SYDNEY , Australia (AFP) — Australia’s most wanted Islamic State terror suspect, who was linked to several attacks on home soil, has been killed in a US air strike in Iraq, Canberra said on Thursday. The death of Neil Prakash is considered significant by Australian and American authorities because of his highly prominent and influential role as a senior recruiter for the jihadist group. Attorney General George Brandis said Washington had told Canberra that Prakash […]

Asylum-seekers held in PNG launch Australia court action

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — More than 750 asylum-seekers held in a Papua New Guinea detention camp launched legal action Wednesday to be moved to Australia after a court in the Pacific nation found the centre unconstitutional. Australian lawyers acting for the 757 men — who are held on Manus Island as part of Canberra’s tough policy of sending those who try to reach Australia by boat to camps in PNG and Nauru — sought an “urgent […]

Australian entrepreneur Craig Wright says he created Bitcoin

LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) by Katherine Haddon Australian entrepreneur Craig Wright on Monday identified himself as the creator of Bitcoin, following years of speculation about who invented the pioneering digital currency. Wright was identified by three media outlets — the BBC, The Economist and GQ magazine — and posted a blog on the subject on his website. However, in a defiant interview with the BBC, he insisted that he would have preferred his identity to remain secret […]

Australian aid worker kidnapped in Afghanistan

SYDNEY,Australia (AFP) — An Australian woman working for a charity in Afghanistan has been kidnapped, the country’s foreign minister said Friday. Julie Bishop said Canberra was working to secure the release of Katherine Jane Wilson, but insisted Australia does not pay ransoms for hostages. Wilson, who also uses the first name Kerry, was grabbed in the city of Jalalabad, close to the border with Pakistan, on Thursday, a government official in the area told AFP. […]

Large parts of Barrier Reef dead in 20 years: scientists

SYDNEY , Australia (AFP) — Large parts of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef could be dead within 20 years as climate change drives mass coral bleaching, scientists warned Friday. The World Heritage-listed reef is currently suffering its worst bleaching in recorded history with 93 percent of corals affected due to warming sea temperatures. Experts from the government-backed ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science said in a study that if greenhouse gases keep rising, similar […]

Australia warned of ‘eroding’ gun laws, 20 years after massacre

SYDNEY , Australia (AFP) — Australia marked 20 years since its last mass shooting Thursday as campaigners warned its gun laws, which were severely tightened after the massacre, are being eroded. Thirty-five people died at the historic Tasmanian colonial convict site of Port Arthur in 1996 as lone gunman Martin Bryant, armed with semi-automatic weapons, went on the rampage. Now aged 48, he remains in jail after being sentenced to 35 life sentences without parole. […]

Updated: Papua New Guinea to shut Australia asylum-seeker camp: PM

SYDNEY,Australia (AFP) — Papua New Guinea on Wednesday said a controversial asylum-seeker camp on Manus island will close, throwing Australia’s border protection policy into disarray. It follows a Supreme Court ruling on Tuesday that detaining people at the Australian-funded facility was unconstitutional and illegal. “Respecting this ruling, Papua New Guinea will immediately ask the Australian government to make alternative arrangements for the asylum-seekers currently held at the Regional Processing Centre,” Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said in […]

Australian minister pokes fun at Depp’s ‘Godfather’ video plea

  SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce on Tuesday mocked Johnny Depp’s acting skills in a video recorded with his wife as an apology for breaking the country’s strict quarantine laws. Joyce, who is also agriculture minister, sparked global headlines last year when he threatened to have the couple’s pet dogs put down unless they “buggered off back to the United States”. The Hollywood star and actress-model Amber Heard on Monday released […]

Traffic chaos, schools shut as Riyadh hit by rare flooding

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AFP) — Traffic backed up and schools were shut in the Saudi capital Riyadh on Wednesday after the desert city was struck by a rare severe storm that sparked flooding. The storm, which struck during Tuesday evening’s rush hour, had subsided by daybreak Wednesday but some roads were still inundated. Riyadh implemented its emergency plan to deal with the flooding, the spokesman for the municipal council, Mohammed al-Shwayman, was quoted by the official Saudi […]

Battered Fiji braces for cyclone

SUVA, Fiji (AFP) — Fiji was battening down for another tropical cyclone Wednesday, just weeks after the most powerful storm in the Pacific nation’s history left 44 people dead and crippled infrastructure. The Fiji Meteorological Service said Tropical Cyclone Zena formed overnight Tuesday when a depression west of the main island Vita Levu intensified. It said the category two cyclone, with wind gusts of up to 130 kilometres (80 miles) an hour, was gathering strength, […]

Mozambique debris ‘almost certainly’ from Malaysia plane, Australia says

Sydney, Australia (AFP)—Two pieces of debris found in Mozambique are “almost certainly from MH370,” Australia and Malaysia said Thursday, after technical analysis provided fresh clues to the fate of the missing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) aircraft. Until the latest discoveries, only a wing part recovered from a beach on the Indian Ocean island of La Reunion, which lies east of Mozambique, had been confirmed as coming from the plane that disappeared two years ago. “The analysis […]

Australian Navy says seizes huge weapons cache headed for Somalia

REUTERS — An Australian Navy ship seized a huge cache of weapons near Oman’s coast from a fishing vessel bound for Somalia, the navy said on Monday (March 7), exposing a possible violation of a U.N. Security Council arms embargo. The United Nations has a decades-long arms embargo in place against Somalia, which has been mired in conflict since civil war broke out in 1991. The Australian navy, which patrols waters around the Indian Ocean […]