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Home-made bomb explodes near French church in Rome
A small home-made bomb exploded in a street in central Rome early on Thursday, Reuters said. The bomb caused slight damage to a building belonging to a French religious establishment and three parked cars. The explosion occurred ahead of a visit to Pope Francis by President Francois Hollande.
Gunman kills 5 Afghan cricket players
A gunman on a motorcycle opened fire at a group of local cricket players, killing five of them during a game in eastern Laghman province, AP reported. The attacker fled the scene in Alinghar district, a provincial spokesman, Sarhadii Zhouak, said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack that took place on Thursday. Also, police in southern Helmand province found the body of slain journalist Noor Ahmad Noori late on Thursday night.
China issues warnings to foreign military planes over defence zone
Beijing has begun issuing warnings to foreign military planes entering its self-declared air defense zone over the East China Sea, AP reported. Air Force spokesman Shen Jinke said that multiple types of Chinese planes recently conducted a long-range patrol inside the sweeping zone that was declared in November. The Chinese planes flew alongside a number of foreign military aircraft and issued warnings to them. The spokesman did not identify the planes or say when the patrol was conducted. The US, Japan and other countries earlier denounced the zone’s declaration as provocative.
UN urges Myanmar to probe killings of Rohingya Muslims
The UN has called on Myanmar to investigate reports that dozens of people were killed in attacks on Rohingya Muslims in the Rakhine state. It said “credible information” was received of a series of attacks in a remote area of Rakhine earlier this month. The western state of Rakhine remains tense after outbreaks of inter-communal violence between Buddhist and Muslim communities since 2012.
South Sudan ceasefire signed in Ethiopia
South Sudan’s government and rebels have signed a ceasefire agreement, considered to be the first step to reconciliation between the two sides, following violence that erupted in mid-December and is thought to be a result of strained relations between President Salva Kiir and Vice-President Riek Machar, whom Kiir sacked in July 2013. The conflict had since taken on an ethnic dimension. The deal was reached on Thursday in Ethiopia and was greeted by mediators and regional leaders alike. It is expected to come into effect 24 hours after being signed.
Blast reported in Cairo
A large blast was heard in Cairo on Friday, eyewitnesses report. Smoke was seen rising over the city center. State TV said the blast happened near police headquarters, indicating that it may have been an attack.
N. Korea practiced attack on Seoul’s Incheon airport – report
The North Korean military secretly carried out a practice exercise simulating an attack on a South Korea’s largest airport, using specially designed jets that are meant to enter Southern airspace. A South Korean government source told JoongAng Ilbo that the nighttime exercises came on January 19, one day before North Korean state media reported that Kim Jong-un attended a military drill without expanding on any details. The North Koreans are suspected of practicing entering South Korea by parachute, staging a terrorist attack at the Incheon International Airport, and then occupying planes sitting on the runway. The South Korean official added that such an event is “extremely rare.”
Virginia attorney general will oppose state’s gay marriage ban
Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring announced Thursday that he will no longer defend the state’s gay marriage ban, saying he will join a lawsuit that seeks to have the prohibition declared unconstitutional. Herring, a Democrat, said he has voted against marriage equality in the past but told NPR that his views have changed because he saw that he “hurt a lot of people and it was very painful for a lot of people” when he previously voted in favor of the ban. Herring admitted that the ban was put in place by Virginia voters but said that as attorney general, he “cannot and will not defend laws that violate Virginians `rights’