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Roy Siemens

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Roy likes politics. Knowledge is power, Roy constantly says, so he spends nearly all day gathering information and writing articles about the latest events around the globe. He likes history and studying about war techniques, this is why he finds writing his articles a piece of cake. Another hobby of his is horse – riding.

Saudi Arabia has announced it will respond with “necessary measures” to attacks on two oil facilities as it reiterated the accusation that Iran was behind them.

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir said the weapons used were Iranian and vowed to release the full findings of the investigation.

However, Iran denies involvement in the attacks.

Earlier, a senior Iranian military official said Iran was ready to destroy any aggressor after the US announced it was sending troops to Saudi Arabia.

Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have said they were responsible for the drone and missile strikes on September 14 that affected the global oil supply.

Tensions between the US and Iran have escalated since President Donald Trump abandoned a deal limiting Iran’s nuclear activities last year and reinstated sanctions.

Speaking to reporters in Riyadh, Adel al-Jubeir said Saudi Arabia was in consultation with its allies and would take necessary and suitable measures after its investigation was complete, without giving details of possible actions.

The Saudi minister repeated that the strikes targeting the Abqaiq oil facility and the Khurais oil field had come from the north and not from Yemen but did not give a specific location, and urged the international community to take a stand.

He said: “The kingdom calls upon the international community to assume its responsibility in condemning those that stand behind this act, and to take a firm and clear position against this reckless behavior that threatens the global economy.”

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The Saudi defense ministry showed off on September 18 what it said were the remains of drones and cruise missiles proving Iranian involvement.

The US has also accused Iran of being behind the attacks, and unnamed senior officials have told US media that the evidence suggests the strikes originated in the south of Iran.

On September 20, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said the US would send a yet-to-be-decided number of troops to Saudi Arabia to boost the country’s air and missile defenses.

President Donald Trump then announced new sanctions against Iran, focusing on the country’s central bank and its sovereign wealth fund, while signaling that he wanted to avoid military conflict.

Hamza Bin Laden, the son of al-Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden, was killed in a US operation, President Donald Trump has confirmed in a statement released by the White House.

Osama Bin Laden’s son reportedly died in an air strike last month.

Hamza Bin Laden was officially designated by the US as a global terrorist two years ago.

Osama Bin Laden’s son was widely seen as a potential successor. Thought to be about 30, he had sent out calls for attacks on the US and other countries.

Image source: AFP/Getty Images

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President Trump said in a brief statement issued by the White House: “Hamza Bin Laden, the high-ranking al-Qaeda member and son of Osama Bin Laden, was killed in a United States counter-terrorism operation in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region.

“The loss of Hamza Bin Laden not only deprives al-Qaeda of important leadership skills and the symbolic connection to his father, but undermines important operational activities of the group.”

The statement did not specify the timing of the operation.

As recently as February, the US government had offered $1million for information leading to Hamza Bin Laden’s capture.

Hamza Bin Laden was seen as an emerging leader of al-Qaeda. It was reported in August that he had been killed in a military operation in the last two years and the US government was involved, but the exact date and time were unclear.

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Turkish newspaper Sabah has published new details of a recording which reportedly captured the final moments of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi government critic, was killed in Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul last October.

The pro-government Sabah newspaper says the transcript is from a recording taken inside and later obtained by Turkish intelligence.

The transcript includes information such as Jamal Khashoggi’s alleged last words.

The Saudi journalist wrote a column for the Washington Post and was based in the US before his disappearance.

Jamal Khashoggi was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018 to obtain papers he needed to marry his Turkish fiancée.

The journalist’s mysterious death piled scrutiny on Saudi Arabia, which released conflicting information regarding his disappearance in the aftermath.

Saudi authorities have since blamed a “rogue” operation for Jamal Khashoggi’s murder and put 11 men on trial.

The Sabah has consistently made international headlines by carrying details – including some that have been disputed – about Khashoggi’s mysterious death.

The newspaper published two new reports this week into Jamal Khashoggi’s death at the hands of a group they label a “hit squad”.

Image source www.alaraby.co.uk

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Jamal Khashoggi Case: Saudi Arabia Admits Journalist Was Murdered

Jamal Khashoggi Was Killed in Consulate Fight, Saudi Arabia Says

The Sabah latest report details information from the alleged recording.

The report includes details such as a forensic expert, part of a team sent from Saudi Arabia, allegedly referring to Jamal Khashoggi as an “animal to be sacrificed” prior to his arrival.

The Sabah report says Jamal Khashoggi, once inside in the consulate, became suspicious and was told he had to return to Riyadh because of an Interpol order.

According to the newspaper, Jamal Khashoggi allegedly refused to comply with the group’s requests, which included texting his son, and was then drugged.

The journalist reportedly then told his killers, in his last words, to not keep his mouth closed because of his asthma, but then lost consciousness.

Jamal Khashoggi was suffocated with a bag put over his head, the Sabah reports, with the sounds of a scuffle allegedly picked up by the recording.

They Turkish newspaper also alleges the tape captured his alleged dismemberment at the hands of the forensic expert.

Reports of the existence of audio recordings from Jamal Khashoggi’s death have been around since last year.

Turkish officials have publicly confirmed their existence and say they have shared them with international governments but is unclear how the Sabah apparently obtained them.

Almost a year on from his death, Jamal Khashoggi’s body has not been recovered despite international pressure.

Earlier this year, a UN expert on extrajudicial killings called for an independent and impartial investigation into his death.

Special rapporteur Agnes Callamard described Jamal Khashoggi’s death as a “deliberate, premeditated execution” and alleges “the state of Saudi Arabia is responsible” and should be investigated.

The Saudi government rejected Callamard’ report and have consistently denied those responsible for the death were acting on official orders.

Tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon have been used by Hong Kong riot police to disperse crowds as tens of thousands marched in the city, defying a ban.

Protesters lit fires, threw petrol bombs at riot police and attacked the parliament building.

An event to mark five years since Beijing ruled out fully democratic elections was banned in Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China.

On August 30, several key pro-democracy activists and lawmakers were arrested.

The protest movement grew out of rallies against a controversial extradition bill – now suspended – which would have allowed criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial.

It has since become a broader pro-democracy movement in which clashes have grown more violent.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Hong Kong Extradition Protests: Tear Gas Fired at Demonstrators Gathered in Mong Kok

Hong Kong Protests: Tear Gas Fired at Unauthorized Yuen Long Rally

Hong Kong Protests: Hundreds of Demonstrators Storm Parliament Building on Anniversary of Chinese Rule

Demonstrators took to the streets in the Wan Chai district, many joining a Christian march, while others protested in the Causeway Bay shopping district in the pouring rain. Many carried umbrellas and wore face masks.

On the 13th weekend of protests, demonstrators – chanting “stand with Hong Kong” and “fight for freedom” – gathered outside government offices, the local headquarters of China’s People’s Liberation Army and the city’s parliament, known as the Legislative Council.

In the Admiralty district, some demonstrators threw fire bombs towards officers. Earlier, protesters marched near the official residence of embattled leader Carrie Lam, who is the focal point of much of the anger.

Police had erected barriers around key buildings and road blocks, and fired tear gas and jets of blue-dyed water from the water cannon. The colored liquid is traditionally used to make it easier for police to identify protesters.

The recent demonstrations have been characterized as leaderless.

On August 30, police had appealed to members of the public to cut ties with “violent protesters” and had warned people not to take part in the banned march.

Police made a number of arrests on August 31.

During a 24-hour police crackdown, at least three activists – including prominent 23-year-old campaigner Joshua Wong – and three lawmakers were detained.

Joshua Wong, who first rose to prominence as the poster boy of a protest movement that swept Hong Kong in 2014, was released on bail after being charged over the protests which have rocked the territory since June.

Hong Kong is part of China, but enjoys “special freedoms”. Those are set to expire in 2047, and many in Hong Kong do not want to become “another Chinese city”.

Beijing has repeatedly condemned the protesters and described their actions as “close to terrorism”. The protests have frequently escalated into violence between police and activists, with injuries on both sides.

Activists are increasingly concerned that China might use military force to intervene.

On August 29, Beijing moved a new batch of troops into Hong Kong, a move Chinese state media described as a routine annual rotation.

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Tear gas has been fired by Hong Kong riot police at protesters who are demonstrating for the ninth weekend in a row.

On August 3, groups rallied in the Mong Kok district before starting their march. They called on others to join a city-wide strike planned for August 5.

Beijing and the Chinese army have issued stern warnings about the unrest.

Two months of Hong Kong demonstrations sparked by a controversial extradition bill show no signs of abating, with both sides hardening their stance.

Although the government has now suspended the controversial bill, which would have allowed extraditions to mainland China, demonstrators want the bill fully withdrawn.

Their demands have broadened to include calls for more democracy and for Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam to resign.

Hong Kong – a former British colony – is part of China but enjoys unique freedoms not seen on the mainland.

Hong Kong Protests: Tear Gas Fired at Unauthorized Yuen Long Rally

Hong Kong Protests: Hundreds of Demonstrators Storm Parliament Building on Anniversary of Chinese Rule

Protesters initially gathered in Mong Kok, a Hong Kong district where violent clashes took place during pro-democracy protests in 2014.

A group of demonstrators briefly blocked access to the Cross Harbour Tunnel, causing traffic chaos, while others set up make-shift barricades on shopping streets.

As the demonstrations dragged into the night, protesters gathered outside the police station in Tsim Sha Tsui district. Officers then fired tear gas at the activists.

The South China Morning Post published a police statement saying the “radical” group had set fires nearby and had thrown bricks into the building.

The march comes after a group of civil servants – ordered to be politically neutral – joined demonstrations in their thousands on August 2.

The rally followed the publication of an anonymous letter on Facebook complaining about “extreme oppression” and listing five key demands – the complete withdrawal of the extradition bill; waiving charges against those arrested; an end to descriptions of protests as “rioting”; an independent inquiry into the unrest; and resuming political reforms.

Supporters of Hong Kong’s police force also gathered earlier for a rally in Victoria Park.

Some unions and organizations have reportedly already agreed to take part in the strike planned for August 5. There are also further demonstrations planned for August 4.

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Two short-range ballistic missiles have been fired off North Korea’s east coast, according to South Korea’s military, the second such launch in a week.

They were launched from the Wonsan area on July 31.

Last week’s launch was the first such action since President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met in June.

North Korea called last week’s launch a “solemn warning” to Seoul over its planned military exercises with Washington.

Pyongyang has previously expressed anger that the annual drills will go ahead next month- an event it sees as preparation for war.

The missiles were launched at 05:06AM and 05:27 AM local time from the Kalma area near the port of Wonsan.

The missiles flew 155 miles and reached a height of 20 miles before landing in the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, said South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

The South Korean defense minister Jeong Kyeong-doo said the missiles were identified as a different type from previous models.

Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe confirmed that there was no impact on Japan’s security following the launch.

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North Korea: Kim Jong-un Oversees Short-Range Projectile Tests

Six days ago, North Korea fired two short range missiles, one of which travelled about 425 miles and the other 268 miles.

That launch was the first since President Trump and Kim Jong-un held an impromptu meeting in June at the demilitarized zone (DMZ), an area that divides the two Koreas, where they agreed to restarted denuclearization talks.

North Korea has recently again voiced anger over planned military exercises between South Korea and the US, an annual event which the allies have refused to cancel but have scaled back significantly.

One analyst said more missile tests could be expected.

North Korea called the drills a “violation of the spirit” of the joint statement signed by President Trump and Kim Jong-un at their first face-to-face talks in Singapore last year.

Pyongyang had warned the exercises could affect the resumption of denuclearization talks.

On July 29, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that he hoped these talks could start “very soon”, but that there were no further summits planned.

Last year, Kim Jong-un said North Korea would stop nuclear testing and would no longer launch intercontinental ballistic missiles.

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Tear gas has been fired by Hong Kong riot police at an unauthorized protest held by tens of thousands of people to condemn an attack by armed masked men last week.

As a small group of protesters refused to disperse in the northern district of Yuen Long, police fired rubber bullets.

The protest took place where pro-democracy protesters had been attacked by suspected triad gang members.

Police have been accused of turning a blind eye and colluding with the attackers, claims they deny.

There were seven weeks of anti-government and pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong sparked by a controversial bill that would have enabled extraditions to mainland China.

The government has since halted the legislation but protesters have demanded its complete withdrawal, as well as an inquiry into police violence, democratic reform, and that Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam resign.

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Hong Kong protests: Schools and banks closed as demonstrators block downtown

Hong Kong clashes near government offices

The July 27 rally had been banned by the police, a highly unusual move in the territory, where protests are usually allowed.

Police say they refused permission because they feared violent clashes between protesters and residents.

The march was planned as a response to last Sunday’s attack, in which about 100 men descended on Yuen Long’s metro station, beating protesters – as well as passersby and journalists – with wooden and metal sticks.

The attack left 45 people injured and was widely blamed on triad gang members. They appeared to target those wearing black, the color people had been told to wear for the protest.

Triads are known to be active in Yuen Long – located in a rural northern district in Hong Kong, near mainland China – and many local villagers have also expressed opposition to the pro-democracy protests.

Tens of thousands defied the police ban and approached Yuen Long on July 27, marching down some of the main roads.

Police observed and filmed the start of the protest, and riot police could be seen on standby.

They said some protesters were holding iron poles and shields, and “even removing fences from roads”.

Some protesters also surrounded and vandalized a police vehicle, “causing danger to the life of the police officers on board”, they said.

Shortly after 17:00 local time, police began firing several rounds of tear gas in an attempt to disperse the crowd.

The protesters – most wearing masks and hard hats – threw projectiles and swore at police – but also parted to allow ambulances to go through.

Later in the evening, in an attempt to clear several hundred demonstrators, police fired rubber bullets, injuring at least nine people, according to the AFP news agency.

Protesters have been demanding an independent inquiry into police violence, saying police used excessive force in several anti-extradition bill and pro-democracy protests.

Demonstrators and pro-democracy legislators have alleged that the authorities – including the police and pro-government legislators – had advance knowledge of the attack.

Police say suggestions that they colluded with criminal gangs were a “smear”, and that 12 people have so far been arrested, including nine men with links to triads.

There have also been growing tensions between protesters and pro-Beijing groups.

Earlier this week, pro-Beijing legislator Junius Ho’s office was ransacked, and his parents’ graves were vandalized.

Junius Ho had come under criticism after video footage showed him shaking hands with white-shirted men on July 27 shortly before the attacks.

He said he did not know about the attack, but defended the men, saying they were simply “defending their home and people”.

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North Korea tested two new missiles on July 25, calling this action a “solemn warning” against what it described as “South Korean warmongers”.

The short-range missiles were fired into the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, from Wonsan on North Korea’s east coast.

The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, said his country was forced to develop weapons to “eliminate potential and direct threats”.

Kim Jong-un said the test involved a new tactical guided weapons system.

His comments, reported in state media, come after North Korea criticized a decision by South Korea and the US to hold military drills next month.

North Korea has long regarded the drills as preparation for an invasion.

Though the US and South Korea have refused to cancel the annual military exercises, they have been scaled back significantly.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said one of the new missiles traveled about 420 miles. The US also confirmed that the missiles were “short-range”.

Kim Jong-un said he was “satisfied” with the new weapons system’s response and claimed it would “not be easy to defend against”.

The North Korean leader said that South Korea should “not make a mistake of ignoring the warning”.

South Korea has urged the North to stop acts that are unhelpful to easing tension and said the tests posed a military threat.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo downplayed concerns about the launch, however, calling them a negotiating tactic.

He told Bloomberg Television: “Everybody tries to get ready for negotiations and create leverage and create risk for the other side.

“We want diplomacy to work. If it takes another two weeks or four weeks, so be it.”

The test is the first since Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump met at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), an area that divides the two Koreas, on June 30.

Donald Trump Becomes First US Sitting President to Cross into North Korea After Symbolic Meeting with Kim Jong-un at DMZ

North Korea: Kim Jong-un Oversees Short-Range Projectile Tests

The missile launch also comes after anger from North Korea over planned military exercises between South Korea and the US, an annual event. North Korea warned they could affect the resumption of denuclearization talks.

About 29,000 US soldiers are based in South Korea, under a security agreement reached after the war ended in 1953.

In 2018, Kim Jong-un said North Korea would stop nuclear testing and would no longer launch intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Nuclear activity appears to be continuing, however, and satellite images of North Korea’s main nuclear site last month showed movement, suggesting the country could be reprocessing radioactive material into bomb fuel.

North Korea also continues to demonstrate its abilities to develop new weapons despite strict economic sanctions. Earlier this week Kim Jong-un inspected a new type of submarine, state media reported, which could be developed to carry ballistic missiles, according to some analysts.

In May, Pyongyang also conducted a similar short-range missile launch, its first such test since its intercontinental ballistic missile launch in 2017.

President Trump responded then by saying he believed Kim Jong-un would not do anything that could jeopardize his country’s path towards better relations.

Donald Trump tweeted that Kim Jong-un “knows that I am with him and does not want to break his promise to me”.

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North Korea says Alek Sigley, who had been detained for several days before being released, had been “spying” for news outlets.

The 29-year-old Australian student was reported missing in late June, but was freed on July 4 after Swedish officials in Pyongyang met the North Korean government.

NK News, one of the websites to publish Alek Sigley’s writing, has rejected North Korea’s claims that he spied for them.

It said Alek Sigley’s columns only “presented an apolitical view of life in Pyongyang”.

Alek Sigley, a fluent Korean speaker, had been living in Pyongyang while studying a Master’s at Kim Il-sung University and running a tourism business.

He has not commented on why he detained. Following his release, he flew to Japan, where his wife lives.

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On July 6, North Korea’s state-run news agency KCNA said that Alek Sigley had “on numerous occasions transferred information, including photographs and analysis that he gathered while travelling to every corner of Pyongyang using his status as an international student”.

Alek Sigley had done this “upon request by anti-DPRK [North Korea] news outlets such as NK news”, KCNA added.

The North Korean government decided to deport him on humanitarian grounds after he “honestly admitted that he had been spying… and repeatedly asked for our forgiveness for infringing on our sovereignty”, it said.

North Korea often accuses foreigners detained in its country of espionage or “hostile acts”.

In a statement, NK News, a website specializing in North Korean news and analysis, said it appreciated “the DPRK’s decision to promptly release Sigley on humanitarian grounds”.

The website said it had published six articles from Alek Sigley which showed “vignettes of ordinary daily life in the capital”.“The six articles Alek published represent the full extent of his work with us and the idea that those columns, published transparently under his name between January and April 2019, are ‘anti-state’ in nature is a misrepresentation which we reject.”

President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have held a symbolic meeting at the DMZ, the heavily fortified zone dividing the two Koreas.

Donald Trump became the first sitting US president to cross into North Korea after meeting Kim Jong-un at the demilitarized zone.

Critics have dismissed it as pure political theatre, but others say it could set the scene for future talks.

Their last summit ended abruptly with no progress on denuclearization talks.

Speaking to reporters alongside Kim Jong-un at the DMZ, President Trump said it was a “truly historic” moment and that he was “proud to step over the line” between the Koreas.

Kim Jong-un, in a rare statement to the press, said the meeting was a symbol of the “excellent” relationship between him and President Trump.

Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un meeting in June 2018
Image source Wikipedia

Donald Trump Offers to Meet Kim Jong-un at DMZ

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With no time for the all-important backroom diplomacy, it was expected to be largely a photo opportunity. However, the dramatic meeting will be seen as a sign of their ongoing commitment to the denuclearization talks.

Negotiations with North Korea, to try to convince it to abandon its controversial nuclear program, reached a peak last year when Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un had a historic meeting in Singapore.

They both committed to the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean peninsula, but without clarifying what that meant.

It was hoped their second meeting, in Hanoi in February 2019, would make some concrete agreement about North Korea handing over its nuclear program in exchange for some of the tight sanctions against it being lifted.

Hwever, those talks ended with no deal, as they failed to agree on the pace at which sanctions should be eased. Since then the negotiations have stalled, though Kim Jong-un and President Trump have exchanged letters recently.

The DMZ, which runs about 2.5 miles wide and 155 miles long, has divided the peninsula since the Korean War ended in 1953.

Though that area, by definition, has no military installations or personnel, beyond it lies one of the most heavily militarized borders in the world.

The Joint Security Area (JSA) located at the Panmunjom village straddles the Military Demarcation Line and is where all negotiations between the two Koreas are held.

Tourists can also go to the JSA when relations between North Korea and South Korea – still technically at war – allow it. No US sitting US president has been inside it. Bill Clinton once described it as the “scariest place on Earth”.

President Donald Trump has revealed that the US military was “cocked and loaded to retaliate” against Iran, but he changed his mind 10 minutes before planned strikes.

The president said he had called off strikes after being told 150 people would die.

Donald Trump tweeted: “10 minutes before the strike I stopped it, not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone.”

Attacks on three sites were planned in response to the shooting down of a US unmanned drone this week.

The late reversal was first reported by the New York Times on June 20. The newspaper said the operation had been “in its early stages” when President Trump stood the US military down.

On June 21, President Trump said: “I am in no hurry.”

“Our military is rebuilt, new, and ready to go, by far the best in the world.”

The president said Iran had downed the drone on June 17, despite an earlier US military statement that the incident happened at 23:35 GMT on June 19 (04:05 Iran time on June 20).

On June 21, President Trump told NBC News that he decided not to give final approval to the planned strikes because of the predicted death toll.

He said: “I didn’t like it. I didn’t think it was proportionate.”

Tehran says the unmanned US aircraft entered Iranian airspace early on June 20. The US maintains it was shot down in international airspace.

Tensions have been escalating between the two states, with the US recently blaming Iran for attacks on oil tankers operating in the region.

Iran has announced it will soon exceed international agreed limits on its nuclear program.

Mike Pompeo Blames Iran for Attacks on Gulf of Oman Tankers

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President Donald Trump Pulls US Out of Iran Nuclear Deal

In 2018, the US unilaterally pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear activities.

“Iran can NEVER have nuclear weapons,” President Trump said in his tweets on the aborted strikes – also revealing that increased economic sanctions against Iran were “added last night”.

The US has now asked the UN Security Council to meet on June 24 to discuss Iran, Reuters reports.

In its initial report, The New York Times said that as late as 19:00 local time on June 20, US military and diplomatic officials had still expected the strikes to take place on agreed targets, including Iranian radar and missile batteries.

However, President Trump refuted this report on June 21, telling NBC that no planes were in the air.

The strikes had been set to take place just before dawn on June 21 to minimize risk to the Iranian military or to civilians, the New York Times report added.

Tweeting on June 21, President Trump said three sites had been targeted.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press quoted a US official as saying the strikes had been recommended by the Pentagon and had been among options presented to senior administration officials.

According to the New York Times, top Pentagon officials warned a military response could result in a spiraling escalation with risks for US forces in the region.

The operation was called off after President Trump spent most of day on June 20 discussing Iran with his national security advisers and congressional leaders, AP reports.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton had pushed for a hard-line stance, but congressional leaders urged caution, the agency says.

Separately, Reuters quoted two Iranian officials as saying Tehran had received a message from President Trump through Oman overnight warning about an imminent US attack.

That report was later denied by a spokesman for Iran’s National Security Council, who said there was no truth to it and no message was sent.

In the US, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said America had no appetite for war with Iran, while the leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, Joe Biden, called President Trump’s Iran strategy a “self-inflicted disaster”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said a war would be a “catastrophe with unpredictable consequences”.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged all parties to exercise maximum restraint.

On June 20, the FAA issued an emergency order prohibiting US airlines from operating in an overwater area of Tehran-controlled airspace nearby in response.

Airlines from other countries, as KLM, Emirates, British Airways and Qantas, have also said they will re-route their flights to avoid parts of Iran.

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Turkey has been threatened with sanctions by the EU if it continues “illegal drilling” in waters near Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean.

The warning came at an EU summit in Brussels.

EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called Turkey’s actions “totally unacceptable”.

On June 20, Turkey launched the Yavuz, a second drilling ship for natural gas and oil prospecting off Cyprus.

The Republic of Cyprus is an EU member, but the breakaway north is pro-Turkey.

The European Council called on Turkey to “show restraint, respect the sovereign rights of Cyprus and refrain from any such actions”.

The statement said: “The European Council endorses the invitation to the [EU] Commission and the EEAS [EU foreign affairs service] to submit options for appropriate measures without delay, including targeted measures.”

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The self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is recognized only by Turkey, and is internationally isolated.

Turkey said it was drilling inside its continental shelf, complying with international law.

A Turkish drilling ship, the Fatih, had been anchored west of Cyprus since early May and had begun drilling, the Reuters reported.

Turkey is a candidate for EU membership but its negotiations are currently frozen. The EU Commission has said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has backtracked on pledges to improve justice and the rule of law. The Turkish government has purged state institutions since an abortive coup attempt against Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July 2016.

Greek PM Alexis Tsipras said the threatened EU measures “are against companies and individuals, a possible EU accession process freeze and measures with significant economic consequences”.

He said at Brussels summit: “These will take place unless Turkey stops its illegal operations inside the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cyprus.”

Turkey – a key NATO partner for the West – has extensive trade ties with the EU and has not yet been hit with EU sanctions, unlike Russia.

The US has also threatened Turkey with sanctions if President Erdogan goes ahead with a deal to buy S-400 air defense missiles from Russia.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has blamed Iran for “unprovoked attacks” on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman on June 13.

The US had made its assessment based on intelligence about the type of weapons used, he said.

Dozens of crew members were rescued after the explosions at the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous and the Front Altair, owned by Norway.

Both Iran and the US said they evacuated the crew.

“It is the assessment of the United States that the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for the attacks,” the secretary of state said at a news conference in Washington.

“This is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise need to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication.”

“This is only the latest in the series of attacks instigated by the Islamic Republic of Iran and its surrogates against American and allied interests.

“Taken as a whole, these unprovoked attacks present a clear threat to international peace and security, a blatant assault on the freedom of navigation, and an unacceptable campaign of escalating tension by Iran,” Mike Pompeo said.

The blasts in one of the world’s busiest oil routes comes a month after four oil tankers were attacked off the United Arab Emirates.

No group or country has admitted the incident in May, which also caused no casualties.

The US at the time blamed Iran – but Tehran denied the accusations.

Oil prices jumped as much as 4% after the incident.

Image source Al Jazeera

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The Gulf of Oman lies at one end of the strategic Strait of Hormuz – a vital shipping lane through which hundreds of millions of dollars of oil pass.

The Norwegian Maritime Authority said that the Front Altair had been had been “attacked”, and that there were three blasts on board.

Wu I-fang, a spokesman for Taiwan’s CPC Corp oil refiner, which chartered the Front Altair, said it was carrying 75,000 tonnes of naphtha and was “suspected of being hit by a torpedo”, although this has not been confirmed.

Other unverified reports suggested a mine attack.

The ship’s owner, Frontline, said the vessel was on fire – but denied reports in Iranian media that it had sunk.

The operator of the Kokuka Courageous, BSM Ship Management, said its crew abandoned ship and were rescued by a passing vessel.

The tanker was carrying methanol and was not in danger of sinking, a spokesman said.

It is currently located about 80 miles from Fujairah in the UAE and 16 miles from Iran. The cargo remains intact.

The US has given Turkey an ultimatum to choose between buying US fighter jets and Russian anti-aircraft missile systems by the end of July.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan set out the deadline in a letter to his Turkish counterpart, Hulusi Akar.

Turkey, Patrick Shanahan said, could not have both America’s F-35 advanced fighter jets and Russia’s S-400 systems.

The two NATO allies have been locked in a row over the S-400 for months.

The US argues that the Russian systems are both incompatible with NATO defense systems and pose a security threat, and wants Turkey to buy its Patriot anti-aircraft systems instead.

Turkey, which has been pursuing an increasingly independent defense policy, has signed up to buying 100 F-35s, and has invested heavily in the F-35 program, with Turkish companies producing 937 of the plane’s parts.

Patrick Shanahan says in his letter that the US is “disappointed” to hear that Turkish personnel have been sent to Russia to train on the S-400.

“Turkey will not receive the F-35 if Turkey takes delivery of the S-400,” he writes.

“You still have the option to change course on the S-400.”

U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen

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Patrick Shanahan’s letter includes a schedule for winding down Turkish participation in F-35 pilot training.

The first four F-35s due to be delivered to Turkey have still not left the US, officially to allow Turkish pilots to train in them in America.

On June 4, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country was “determined” to proceed with the S-400 deal.

“Unfortunately we haven’t received a positive proposal from the American side on the subject of Patriots like the S-400s from Russia,” he said.

Turkey has the second-largest army in NATO, a 29-member military alliance set up to defend against what was at the time the Soviet Union.

The head of Russia’s state defense conglomerate Rostec, Sergei Chemezov, was quoted as saying on Friday that Russia would start delivering the S-400 to Turkey in “about two months”.

The S-400 “Triumf” is one of the most sophisticated surface-to-air missile systems in the world.

The Russian missile has a range of 400km (250 miles), and one S-400 integrated system can shoot down up to 80 targets simultaneously.

Russia says it can hit aerial targets ranging from low-flying drones to aircraft flying at various altitudes and long-range missiles.

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Three prominent opposition figures from Sudan have been arrested by the country’s security forces after they met the Ethiopian prime minister who was in Khartoum to try to restart peace talks.

Mohamed Esmat was arrested on June 7 soon after his meeting with PM Abiy Ahmed, aides said.

Ismail Jalab, a leader of the rebel SPLM-N group, and his spokesman Mubarak Ardol were detained on June 8.

The move comes days after a crackdown on pro-democracy protesters left dozens dead.

Protest leaders have rejected an offer of talks from the Transitional Military Council (TMC), saying it cannot be trusted after the bloodshed.

Sudan has been controlled by the TMC since protests led to the ousting of long-time President Omar al-Bashir two months ago.

Image source: Anadolu Agency

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Ahmed Mohamed Meets Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir in Khartoum

The military promised a transition to civilian rule but protesters had maintained a sit-in in Khartoum until security forces swept in on June 3 and opened fire.

The whereabouts of Mohamed Esmat are also not clear.

On June 5, the SPLM-N said its deputy head, Yasir Arman, was arrested at his house in Khartoum. He had returned from exile following the downfall of Omar al-Bashir.

Mohamed Esmat and Ismail Jalab are both leading members of the Alliance for Freedom and Change, an umbrella organization of opposition figures, protest leaders and rebel groups.

Khalid Omar Yousef, an opposition alliance leader, told Reuters after Mohamed Esmat’s arrest: “This amounts to a practical response from the military council that effectively rejects the Ethiopian prime minister’s mediation effort.”

The TMC has not yet commented on the arrests.

According to opposition activists, a feared paramilitary unit, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), killed 108 people in the crackdown, with at least 40 bodies pulled from the River Nile in Khartoum on June 4.

However, officials put the figure at 46. The leader of the RSF claims rogue elements and drug dealers were behind the violence.

The RSF, formerly known as the Janjaweed militia, gained notoriety for brutal atrocities in the Darfur conflict in western Sudan in 2003.

On June 6, the African Union suspended Sudan’s membership “with immediate effect” and warned of further action if power was not transferred to a civilian authority.

The chairman of the African Union commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, called for an “immediate and transparent” investigation into the killings.

In his visit to Khartoum on June 7, Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Ahmed urged both sides to exercise “bravery” and try to agree steps towards democracy.

Reports said Abiy Ahmed had proposed setting up a transitional council comprised of eight civilians and seven military officers with a rotating presidency. It is not known how the proposal was received.

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Brenton Tarrant, who was accused of killing 51 people in New Zealand’s Christchurch mosques attack has been charged with terrorism, police have said.

The Australian was charged with “engaging in a terrorist act”, police said in a statement on May 21.

Brenton Tarrant is already facing charges of murder and 40 of attempted murder following the 15th of March attack on two mosques in the South Island city.

He is next due in court in June.

It is the first time a person has been charged in New Zealand with an act of terror under this law.

New Zealand Police – who met with victims’ families and other survivors to inform them of the charge before it was announced – said they consulted with legal experts and prosecutors before deciding to lay the additional charge.

On March 15, 50 people lost their lives in the shootings at two mosques in Christchurch. One died in hospital later.

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The Christchurch attack was New Zealand’s deadliest mass shooting and brought an outpouring grief and support for the victims and their families.

Two weeks after the attack, more than 20,000 people gathered for a memorial service to honor those who lost their lives.

Last month, New Zealand’s parliament voted to ban military-style semi-automatic weapons to prevent any such thing happening again.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is spearheading an effort to get world’s governments and tech companies to improve their efforts to tackle extremist content online.

The “Christchurch Call” was launched in response to the suspect live-streaming the attack, which was then watched many thousands of times.

The call has already been backed by Australia, India, Germany and Sweden, as well as tech giants Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter. However, the US declined to take part.

A ceasefire in the Gaza Strip has been agreed between Palestinian militants and Israel after a weekend during which Palestinians launched hundreds of rockets into Israel prompting retaliatory air and artillery strikes.

At least four Israelis and 23 Palestinians were killed.

Israel has not confirmed the ceasefire. However, reports say emergency measures have been lifted in southern Israel.

The violence flared up on May 3 during a protest against the blockade of Gaza.

A TV station run by Hamas – the militant movement which controls Gaza – announced that both sides had agreed the ceasefire, beginning at 04:30 local time.

Egypt is said to have brokered it – assisted by the UN and Qatar.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has not mentioned the ceasefire. However, the Times of Israel said that protective restrictions imposed on residents in southern Israel since the flare up began were being lifted, including schools reopening.

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Israel Targets Hamas Sites in Gaza in Retaliation for Rocket Strikes

On May 6, the IDF said militants had fired 690 rockets into southern Israel during the past 48 hours – 240 of which had been intercepted by the country’s Iron Dome missile defense system.

In response, the IDF said, Israel had targeted 350 sites belonging to Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

On May 5, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said he had ordered the military to “continue its massive strikes on terror elements” in Gaza.

Benjamin Netanyahu says the country’s forces around the strip would be “stepped up with tank, artillery and infantry forces”.

Israel had also closed all schools within 25 miles of the Gaza strip and opened some shelters to the public.

The May 6 agreement comes as the holy month of Ramadan begins for Palestinian Muslims and as Israel prepares to mark its memorial day and independence day.

Four people have so far died from the violence in Israel.

The Gaza health ministry says 23 Palestinians have died across the weekend. Most of the deaths came on Sunday. The Islamic Jihad group said seven of the dead were its members.

Civilians, including a 12-year-old boy and two pregnant women, were also among those reportedly killed.

Israel has contested the account of the death of one woman and her 14-month-old niece on Saturday. They blamed their deaths on a Palestinian rocket that fell short of its target.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has overseen a “strike drill” testing various missile components on May 4, state media has confirmed.

“A number of short-range projectiles” were also fired from the Hodo peninsula into the Sea of Japan, the state media said.

Kim Jong-un gave the order of firing to “increase the combat ability” of North Korea, the announcement said.

President Donald Trump tweeted he believed Kim Jong-un would not jeopardize the path towards better relations.

He added that Kim Jong-un “knows that I am with him & does not want to break his promise to me. Deal will happen!

President Trump tweeted on May 4: “Anything in this very interesting world is possible, but I believe that Kim Jong-Un fully realizes the great economic potential of North Korea and will do nothing to interfere or end it.”

Donald Trump walked away from what he described as a bad deal offered by the North Korean at a summit meeting in Hanoi in February.

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In its report on May 5, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Kim Jing-un had stressed the need to “defend the political sovereignty and economic self-sustenance” of North Korea in the face of threat and invasion.

The aim of the drill, which was testing “large-caliber long-range multiple rocket launchers”, was to “inspect the operating ability and the accuracy of striking duty performance,” the report said.

Kim Jong-un told troops to bear in mind “the iron truth that genuine peace and security are ensured and guaranteed only by powerful strength”.

It is believed that latest test is intended to increase pressure on Washington to move nuclear talks forward.

Last month, North Korea said it had tested what it described as a new “tactical guided weapon”.

That was the first test since the Hanoi summit.

Analysts say a short-range solid fuel ballistic missile was fired on May 4, making this the most serious test since North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile in November 2017.

However, the test does not violate North Korea’s promise not to test long-range or nuclear missiles.

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At least 290 people died in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday in a wave of bombings that was carried out with the support of an international network, officials said.

The Sri Lankan government has blamed a little-known local jihadist group, National Thowheed Jamath, although no-one has yet admitted carrying out the bombings.

Another 500 people were injured in the suicide attacks on churches and hotels.

Twenty four people have been arrested in a series of raids and President Maithripala Sirisena’s office declared a state of national emergency.

Sri Lanka Attacks: At Least 137 Killed in Churches and Hotels Explosions on Easter Sunday

The state of emergency declaration, which comes into effect from midnight on April 22, will give police and military extensive powers to detain and interrogate suspects without court orders.

On April 22, another blast rocked a street near a church in the capital, Colombo. Police were attempting to defuse explosives in a vehicle used by the attackers when it blew up. It is not yet known if anyone was hurt.

Sri Lankan authorities were warned about a bomb threat from National Thowheed Jamath a full two weeks before the attacks, cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said at a press conference.

He said that the warnings were not passed on to PM Ranil Wickremesinghe or his cabinet. The prime minister acknowledged that security services had been “aware of information” but had not acted on the information.

Rajitha Senaratne said that authorities believed the bombers had international support.

“We do not believe these attacks were carried out by a group of people who were confined to this country,” he said.

“There was an international network without which these attacks could not have succeeded,” he added.

A later statement said President Maithripala Sirisena would ask for foreign help to track down the international links to the attackers.

“The intelligence reports that foreign terrorist organizations are behind the local terrorists. Therefore, the president is to seek the assistance of the foreign countries,” his office said.

A curfew is to be imposed from 20:00 April 22 until 04:00 on April 23, the government said. A national day of mourning has been scheduled for April 23.

Sri Lanka’s National Security Council said a “conditional state of emergency” from midnight would target “terrorism” and would not limit freedom of expression.

In another development, the US State Department issued revised travel advice urging greater caution, adding: “Terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Sri Lanka.”

The first reports of explosions came at about 08:45 local time on April 21with six blasts reported within a small space of time.

Three churches in Negombo, Batticaloa and Colombo’s Kochchikade district were targeted during Easter services. Blasts also rocked the Shangri-La, Kingsbury and Cinnamon Grand hotels in the country’s capital, Colombo.

Police did not release a breakdown of how many people were killed and wounded at each location.

All the attacks were carried out by suicide bombers, officials said.

Police then carried out raids on two addresses and there were explosions at both. One was in Dehiwala, southern Colombo, and the other was near the Colombo district of Dematagoda in which three officers were killed.

An improvised explosive device – a 6ft-long plastic pipe packed with explosives – was also found and defused near the airport in Colombo.

Police also recovered 87 low-explosive detonators from the Bastian Mawatha private bus station in Pettah.

More than 130 people have been killed and hundreds more injured in a series of explosions at churches and hotels in Sri Lanka, police and hospital sources say.

At least seven explosions were reported. Three churches in Negombo, Batticaloa and Colombo’s Kochchikade district were targeted during Easter services. According to authorities, 137 are reported dead folowing the blasts.

The Shangri-La, Kingsbury, Cinnamon Grand and a fourth hotel, all in Colombo, were also hit.

Easter Sunday is one of the major feasts in the Christian calendar.

No group has yet said it was responsible.

Theravada Buddhism is Sri Lanka’s biggest religion, making up about 70.2% of the population, according to the most recent census.

It is the religion of Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese majority. It is given primary place in the country’s laws and is singled out in the constitution.

Hindus and Muslims make up 12.6% and 9.7% of the population respectively.

Sri Lanka is also home to about 1.5 million Christians, according to the 2012 census, the vast majority of them Roman Catholic.

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St Sebastian’s church in Negombo was severely damaged. Images on social media showed its inside, with a shattered ceiling and blood on the pews. At least 67 people are reported to have died there.

There were heavy casualties too at the site of the first blast in St Anthony’s, a hugely popular shrine in Kochchikade, a district of Colombo.

Hospital sources in Batticaloa said at least 27 people had died there.

A hotel official at the Cinnamon Grand, near the prime minister’s official residence, told AFP the explosion there had ripped through a restaurant, killing at least one person.

A seventh explosion was later reported at a hotel near the zoo in Dehiwala, southern Colombo, with police sources reporting two deaths.

News is coming in of a possible eighth explosion, in the Colombo district of Dematagoda, but this has not yet been confirmed.

Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena has issued a statement calling for people to remain calm and support the authorities in their investigations.

PM Ranil Wickremesinghe is chairing an emergency meeting. He said: “I strongly condemn the cowardly attacks on our people today. I call upon all Sri Lankans during this tragic time to remain united and strong.”

In the years since the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war in 2009, there has been some sporadic violence, with members of the majority Buddhist Sinhala community attacking mosques and Muslim-owned properties. That led to a state of emergency being declared in March 2018.

The civil war ended with the defeat of the Tamil Tigers, who had fought for 26 years for an independent homeland for the minority ethnic Tamils. The war is thought to have killed between 70,000 and 80,000 people.

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Thousands of protesters in Sudan have demanded the full dismantling of the “deep state” left behind by ousted leader Omar al-Bashir.

On April 11, President Omar al-Bashir was toppled by the army after 30 years in power and a military council has pledged elections in two-years time.

From December 2018 onwards, Omar al-Bashir faced large-scale protests which demanded his removal from power.

However, protesters remain camped outside army HQ in the capital, Khartoum, demanding a civilian administration.

Reports on April 15 said there had been efforts to disperse the sit-in but protesters joined hands and troops stepped back from a confrontation.

The crowd chanted “Freedom” and “Revolution”, and appealed to soldiers to protect them, witnesses said.

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The Sudanese Professionals’ Association (SPA) which has spearheaded the protests, urged supporters to foil any attempt to disperse the sit-in.

“We hope that everyone will head immediately to the areas of the sit-in to protect your revolution and your accomplishments,” the group said in a statement.

The SPA was formed in 2016 and includes an array of professional groups including doctors, lawyers, journalists, university professors and engineers.

The pro-opposition umbrella group says it was established to counter Sudan’s mainstream trade unions which stood accused of being pro-government.

In 2018, with inflation rising and the value of the national currency falling, the SPA was at the forefront of campaigning for a national minimum wage.

On April 14, the transitional military council sought to appease protest leaders, telling them that key figures from the former government had been arrested. It is not clear who those officials are.

A military spokesman also promised not to disperse protesters and said the council was “ready to implement” whatever civilian government the opposition parties agreed.

In another development, 13 people were reportedly killed in an armed attack on protesters in the troubled region of South Darfur over the weekend.

“Gunmen” attacked the anti-government protest at a camp for displaced people about 10 miles east of the regional capital, Nyala, according to the privately owned Darfur 24 news website.

Omar al-Bashir has been indicted on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur by the International Criminal Court. He denies any wrongdoing.

Coup leader Defense Minister Awad Ibn Auf announced the military would oversee a two-year transitional period followed by elections and imposed a three-month state of emergency.

North Korea has labeled a break-in at its Madrid embassy last month as a “grave terrorist attack”.

In its first official comment, the North Korean government called for an investigation and said it was closely watching rumors that the FBI had played a role.

On March 27, the Cheollima Civil Defense (CDC), a group committed to ousting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, said it carried out the raid.

The group took computers and data and said it gave its evidence to the FBI.

At least two international arrest warrants have been issued for the main suspects.

Spanish authorities say one suspect, named as Adrian Hong Chang, gained access by asking to see the commercial attaché, whom he claimed to have met previously to discuss business matters. His accomplices burst in once he was inside.

The CDC is accused of interrogating the attaché and trying to persuade him to defect. When he refused, they left him tied up in the basement.

Two other members of the break-in group were named as US citizen Sam Ryu, and a South Korean, Woo Ran Lee.

Embassy staff were held hostage for several hours. One woman managed to flee, escaping through a window and screaming for help. Concerned neighbors quickly called the police.

When officers arrived, they were greeted by Adrian Hong Chang, posing as a North Korean diplomat in a jacket with a Kim Jong-un lapel badge.

He told the police that all was well, and nothing had happened.

Most of the group later fled the embassy in three North Korean diplomatic vehicles. Adrian Hong Chang and some others left later via the back entrance using another vehicle.

They split up into four groups and headed to Portugal. Adrian Hong Chang – a Mexican citizen who lives in the US – allegedly contacted the FBI to give his version of events five days later.

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CDC, also known as Free Joseon, is committed to overthrowing North Korea’s ruling Kim dynasty.

A video posted on the group’s website and YouTube page purports to show one of the intruders smashing portraits of North Korea’s leaders inside the Madrid embassy.

The Cheollima Civil Defense first came to prominence after taking credit for getting Kim Jong-un’s nephew, Kim Han-sol, safely out of Macau after the assassination of his father.

Kim Jong-nam, the North Korean leader’s estranged half-brother, was murdered at an airport in Malaysia in 2017.

Kim Han-sol has expressed his desire to go back to North Korea, and has referred to his uncle as a “dictator”.

Sources close to the investigation reportedly told Spanish newspaper El País that the operation was planned perfectly, as if by a “military cell”.

According to El País and El Confidencial, the attackers seemed to know what they were looking for. Spanish authorities suspect US intelligence agencies and their allies could have been involved in the attack.

El País even reports that two of the group have links to the CIA.

The US has denied any involvement in the raid.

Reports say the attackers could have been looking for information on North Korea’s former ambassador to Madrid, Kim Hyok-chol, who was expelled from Spain in September 2017 over North Korea’s nuclear testing program.

At least three people have been shot dead in a tram attack in the central Dutch city of Utrecht on March 18.

Authorities say the incident appears to be a terrorist attack.

Five others were injured in the incident.

Utrecht police have arrested Gokmen Tanis, a 37-year-old Turkish man, in connection with the shooting.

“We have just been informed that the suspect has been arrested,” police chief Rob van Bree told reporters.

It is not yet clear where Gokmen Tanis was detained.

Schools were closed and security was increased while counter-terrorism police worked to locate the suspect.

A picture of the suspect was posted on social media by police, who warned people against approaching him.

A number of raids were reportedly carried out and counter-terrorism officers were pictured surrounding a building near the 24 Oktoberplein junction, where the tram attack took place.

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PM Mark Rutte earlier said the country had been “jolted by an attack”, which he described as “deeply disturbing”.

The tram attack happened at about 10:45 local time . One witness told local media that “a man started shooting wildly”.

Another witness told Dutch public broadcaster NOS that he had helped an injured woman after the tram came to a stop.

Meanwhile, the threat level has been reduced following the arrest. It was earlier raised to its highest point in the province of Utrecht. Paramilitary police were seen in airports and mosques.

Utrecht University closed all of its buildings and trains were not allowed to run into the city’s central station. Some public transport services have now reopened.

Utrecht, the Netherlands’ fourth largest city, has a population of about 340,000.

Crime levels are low and gun killings are rare, which is the case for much of the country.

49 people have been killed and other 48 wounded in shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in the country’s deadliest attack.

New Zealand’s PM Jacinda Ardern described it as a terrorist attack and one of the country’s “darkest days”.

A gunman identifying himself as an Australian live-streamed the rampage at Al Noor mosque to Facebook. He had espoused racist, anti-immigrant views.

According to police, a man in his late 20s has been arrested and charged with murder.

Two other men and one woman were also detained.

No names have been made public. Firearms and explosive devices were recovered, Police Commissioner Mike Bush said.

The gunman live-streaming the attack from a head-mounted camera said he was a 28-year-old Australian called Brenton Tarrant. The footage showed him firing at men, women and children from close range inside the Al Noor mosque.

Facebook had removed the suspect’s Facebook and Instagram accounts and was working to remove any copies of the footage. The live-stream of the attack lasted for 17 minutes.

The suspect who was charged appeared to have published a document online outlining his intentions as well as details about the plan for the attack. He is due in court on March 16.

Australian PM Scott Morrison described the man as an “extremist, right-wing” terrorist. New Zealand Police Commissioner Bush confirmed that the man had not been known in advance to either New Zealand or Australian security services.

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The first report of an attack came from the Al Noor mosque in central Christchurch at 13:40 on March 15.

A gunman drove to the front door, entered and fired indiscriminately for about five minutes.

One unnamed survivor told TV New Zealand that he had seen the gunman shoot a man in the chest. The attacker reportedly targeted the men’s prayer room in the mosque, then moved to the women’s room.

The gunman is then said to have driven about 3 miles to another mosque in the suburb of Linwood where the second shooting occurred.

One witness described how one of the worshippers had managed to disarm the man, who ran to a waiting car outside.

It is not clear where the arrests were made. Police also defused “a number of IEDs [improvised explosive devices] attached to vehicles”, Police Commissioner Mike Bush said.

He said a number of firearms had been recovered from both mosques, and explosive devices were found in a car belonging to one of the suspects.

Authorities advised all mosques in Christchurch to shut down until further notice.

According to the latest census figures, Muslims make up about 1.1% of New Zealand’s population of 4.25 million.

Numbers rose sharply as New Zealand took in refugees from various war-torn countries since the 1990s.

Social media accounts in the name of Brenton Tarrant were used to post a lengthy, racist document in which the author identified the mosques that were later attacked.

The man says he began planning an attack after visiting Europe in 2017 and being angered by events there.

The document is called “The Great Replacement” – a phrase that originated in France and has become a rallying cry for European anti-immigration extremists.

Although New Zealand police said they had charged a man in his late 20s with murder, they did not identify the man.

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According to recent reports, North Korea may be preparing to launch a missile or a satellite.

Satellite images suggest an increased activity around a site known as Sanumdong, where North Korea assembled most of its ballistic missiles and rockets.

It comes after reports earlier this week that North Korea’s main rocket launch site at Sohae had been rebuilt.

Last year, North Korea started to dismantle Sohae began but stopped as US talks stalled.

On March 8, President Donald Trump said he would be disappointed if North Korea was to resume weapons testing.

He said: “I would be surprised in a negative way if he did anything that was not per our understanding. But we’ll see what happens.

“I would be very disappointed if I saw testing.”

According to analysts, it is more likely at this stage that North Korea is preparing to launch a satellite rather than test a missile.

However, the US said earlier this week that this would still be inconsistent with the commitments Kim Jong-un has made to President Trump.

Large vehicles have been seen moving around Sanumdong, activity which has in the past indicated that Pyongyang was at least preparing to move some kind of missile or rocket to a launch area.

The satellite images were published by the public radio network NPR.

A much anticipated meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un in Hanoi last week ended without a deal over differences in how much North Korea was willing to limit its nuclear program before it was granted some sanction relief.

The Sohae launch facility at the Tongchang-ri site has been used for satellite launches and engine testing but never for ballistic missile launches.

This week’s satellite images, coming from several US think tanks and testimony from the South Korean intelligence service, appear to show rapid progress has been made in rebuilding structures on the rocket launch pad.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton has said North Korea could yet face more sanctions if there is no progress on denuclearization.

A historic first meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in 2018 in Singapore produced a vaguely worded agreement on “denuclearization” but little progress.