A meeting of the contact group on Ukraine will be held in Minsk on January 30, Tass news agency reported. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry made the announcement after being informed by the contact group about its next meeting.
Over 38,000 Somali children are at “high risk” from dying from starvation despite hunger levels improving by almost a third across the nation, UN experts said Thursday. In total, over 731,000 people, including 203,000 children who are severely malnourished, face “acute food insecurity,” said a joint report released by the UN’s Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit and the US-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network. The total number affected is a drop of 29 percent from last assessments covering the past six months. “An estimated 202,600 children under the age of five are acutely malnourished, including 38,200 who are severely malnourished and face a high risk of morbidity and death,” the report said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that Iran stood behind Hezbollah’s deadly attack on northern Israel a day earlier, Haaretz daily said. Two Israel Defense Forces soldiers were killed while on patrol near the Lebanon border. Speaking at a memorial marking a year since the death of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Netanyahu said, “This is the same Iran that is trying to reach a deal now with world powers that will leave it with the capability of developing nuclear weapons, a deal which we vehemently oppose.”
Jordan has said it was still trying to verify the authenticity of the last audio recording purporting to be from a Japanese hostage, Reuters reported. “The last tape recording is still being verified by the authorized agencies,” government spokesman Mohammad al-Momani said on Thursday. The voice in the short audio message said a 24-hour deadline had been extended for a prisoner swap with a woman militant held in a Jordanian jail. No mention of a Jordanian pilot held by the militants was made.
Turkish Airlines and Lebanon’s Middle East Airlines (MEA) resumed flights to Baghdad on Thursday, Reuters said. At least seven airlines suspended flights to Baghdad earlier in the week when bullets hit a plane as it was landing in the Iraqi capital. A Flydubai spokesman said its service would remain suspended until February 2. Air Arabia’s official said he was not aware of any changes to the suspension. Qatar Airways’ website said service between Doha and Baghdad had been suspended until February 5 with resumption subject to daily review.
The F-16 fighter jet that crashed during a NATO exercise in Spain Monday, killing 11, experienced a technical failure during takeoff, AFP reported. The two pilots tried to eject, the French Air Force said Thursday. “What we know is that the crew of the F-16, quite quickly after takeoff, tried to eject, which confirms the technical failure,” according to General Denis Mercier, the French Air Force chief of staff.
Police have arrested and bailed the editor of an Urdu-language newspaper in Mumbai for reprinting an anti-Islam cartoon from satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo, AFP reported. Shirin Dalvi, editor of the Mumbai edition of the daily Avadhnama newspaper, was detained in the town of Mumbra in Thane district under the Penal Code, which bans malicious and deliberate acts intended to outrage religious feelings.
‘Date an Inmate’, a Facebook dating page where women can arrange behind-bars romance and even the occasional conjugal visit, has gained more than 10,000 members in the two weeks, the Local reported. Single prisoners who want to be featured on the page contact the site’s administrators, submitting an image and a few lines about themselves. Interested women vastly outnumber prisoners among the membership, the paper said.
Police in Vienna are preparing for “high levels of violence” on Friday as left-wing protesters have promised to disrupt the right-wing Akademikerball which takes place at Vienna’s imperial Hofburg palace, the Local reported. Two planned rallies have already been banned. The anti-fascist group NOWKR said they were going to set up a blockade to prevent guests arriving at the ball.
Malaysia has declared that the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 was an accident and that all 239 people onboard are presumed dead, Bloomberg reported. The move could help families obtain assistance, and the airline is ready to immediately proceed with compensation. “After 327 days and based on all available data as well as circumstances mentioned earlier, survivability in the defined area is highly unlikely,” said Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, director general of the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA), in a statement released Thursday evening.
Late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il repeatedly pushed for summit talks with South Korea before his 2011 death, but Pyongyang demanded $10 billion and large-scale shipments of food and fertilizer, a former South Korean president said in a memoir. Ex-President Lee Myung-bak said in parts of the memoir provided to reporters in advance that senior intelligence officials from the two Koreas made secret visits to the rival countries to explore summit possibilities in 2010, after two attacks blamed on Pyongyang killed 50 South Koreans.
German anti-Islam movement PEGIDA’s second leader stepped down in a week on Wednesday, Reuters said. Kathrin Oertel, who took over after the founder quit for posing as Hitler, cited media pressure. The Dresden-based group, German abbreviation for ‘Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West’ said that Oertel and another board member were resigning. The 37-year-old became PEGIDA’s national figurehead after founder Lutz Bachmann resigned last Wednesday. Bachmann announced his resignation after Bild daily carried a ‘selfie’ of him with a Hitler mustache and haircut that he had posted on Facebook.
Five people, including a policeman and a child, were killed by roadside bombing in two Afghanistan’s eastern provinces, TASS said. In Laghman province, three civilians and a policeman were killed in the provincial capital of Mihtarlam on Thursday morning. A suspect was detained after police cordoned off the scene. A child was killed in a similar incident in Jalalabad, the capital of neighboring Nangarhar province.
Indonesia is ready to execute seven foreign drug convicts on death row after their appeals for presidential clemency were rejected, AFP reported. They include two Australian leaders of the ‘Bali Nine’ drug-smuggling gang, who have been on death row for almost a decade. A further five foreigners, from countries including France, Brazil, Nigeria and Ghana, have also lost their appeals, said a spokesman for the attorney-general’s office.
A hostage who died during a siege in a downtown Sydney cafe was killed when she was struck by fragments of a bullet fired from a police officer’s gun, AP reported. Katrina Dawson, a 38-year-old lawyer who was among 18 people taken hostage last month by a gunman, died after being hit by six fragments of a police bullet that had ricocheted off a hard surface, as police stormed in to end the 16-hour standoff, Jeremy Gormly, a lawyer assisting the coroner, told the Glebe Coroner’s Court. Another hostage, 34-year-old cafe manager Tori Johnson, was killed after gunman Man Horan Monis fired a bullet into the back of his head, Gormly said. A police sharpshooter witnessed Johnson’s killing, prompting police to move in, according to Gormly.
The French first officer of an AirAsia passenger jet that crashed into the sea last month was at the controls just prior to the accident, Reuters quoted Indonesia’s lead investigator as saying on Thursday. “The co-pilot, who usually sits to the right of the cockpit. At the time, he was flying the plane,” said head National Transport Safety Committee (NTSC) investigator Mardjono Siswosuwarno, referring to First Officer Remi Plesel. “The captain, sitting to the left, was the pilot monitoring.” Captain Iriyanto, 53, was believed to have taken over control of the aircraft from Plesel when it started to ascend and then descend sharply.
An overloaded fishing boat carrying migrants to Malaysia sank in strong currents off the coast of Bangladesh on Thursday, AFP reported. Emergency workers rescued 32 Bangladeshis in the Bay of Bengal after the boat capsized some 2.5km offshore, but 24 passengers are still unaccounted for. The boat had up to 60 people aboard. All the passengers are Bangladeshi and were heading to Malaysia by sea illegally, police said.