Security tightened across Indian cities ahead of Republic Day celebrations

Indian paramilitary trooper stand guard along a street ahead of Indias Republic Day, in Srinagar on January 24, 2023. (Photo: AFP)NEW DELHI, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) -- Authorities have beefed up security across Indian cities including the capital New Delhi ahead of the countrys 74th Republic Day celebrations, officials said Wednesday.The move has been undertaken to conduct the official celebrations safely without any attempts of disruptions at the hands of militants or terror groups.Police have intensified checking and patrolling at metro stations, railway stations, airports and bus terminals as part of the security arrangement across major cities.In Delhi, where the main function is scheduled to be held on Thursday, authorities have made adequate security arrangements.Local media reports said more than 6,000 police personnel have been deployed in and around the national capital to keep complete vigil and thwart any attempt aimed at disrupting the function."Both static and mobile quick response teams will keep an eye to handle any untoward situation. We have intensified the anti-terror measures in coordination with other agencies," Pranav Tayal, a senior police official was quoted in local media as having said."Delhi has always remained a target for anti-social elements. Threat perception is very high during such occasions. There are threat inputs and we have strengthened our security apparatus."The Republic Day parade will be held Thursday morning on Kartavya Path (previously known as the Rajpath) in New Delhi.Police have fortified areas in and around Kartavya Path with multi-layer security covers, besides installing Facial Recognition Systems (FRS) and CCTV cameras.Officials said air space with counter-rogue drone technology in and around the main venue area has been secured. Flying drones and other aerial platforms have been banned and any flying object that breaches the security cordons in and around Kartavya Path will be taken care of, po...

Germany approves sending Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine

BERLIN, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) -- German government decides to supply its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine on Wednesday and green-lighted requests by other countries to do so.According to the local authorities, Germany would send an initial company of 14 of its Leopard 2 tanks from its own stocks.Germanys decision to provide Kiev with its Leopard 2 tanks will escalate the Ukrainian conflict, Russian Ambassador to Germany Sergei Nechaev said Wednesday.

74-year-old man arrested over letter bombs attacks in Spain

A 74-year-old man has been arrested on Wednesday as the alleged perpetrator of sending letters with explosive material to the Spanish Presidency of the Government, the Ukrainian legations in Madrid and Barcelona, and the Ministry of Defense, La Sexta reported.

NATO's Stoltenberg expects allies to lift defense spending target

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg expects the alliances member states to raise their current spending target on defense to 2 percent of national output when they meet for a summit in Vilnius in July, he told German newspaper Die Welt. NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg gestures as he gives a joint press conference with Germanys Defence Minister following talks on January 24, 2023 at the Defence Ministry in Berlin. (Photo: AFP)"I assume that there will be a new target for defense spending when we meet for the NATO summit in Vilnius in July this year," Stoltenberg told Welt. "The two percent target was initially for a decade, so until 2024, so we have to update it now."Stoltenberg said he could not yet say what the member states would agree on. "But I assume that it will be a more ambitious target than before because everybody sees that we need to invest more," he said. In 2006, NATO defense ministers agreed to commit a minimum of 2 percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) to defense spending to ensure the alliances military readiness, according to NATOs website.This guideline serves as an indicator of a countrys political will to contribute to NATOs joint defense efforts since the defense capacity of each member has an impact on the overall perception of the alliances credibility as a politico-military organization, the website said.

One dead as heavy snow and record cold hit Japan

Tourists revelled in wintry scenes across Japan on Wednesday, as much of the country was blanketed by snow in a cold snap that has killed at least one person and disrupted travel.People cross the street as it snows in the city of Toyama, Toyama prefecture on the central-western coast of Japan, on January 24, 2023, as parts of the country brace for a severe winter storm. (Photo: AFP)"These temperatures are some of the coldest weve seen in a decade," Japan Meteorological Agency official Takafumi Umeda told AFP.Record lows were logged in several locations, including one area of southern Kumamoto, where the mercury hit -9 degrees Celsius (16 degrees Fahrenheit), the coldest logged there since 1977 when that observation site began keeping track.Top government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno said one person had died in the cold snap, while meteorologists warned of blizzards, high waves and traffic snarl-ups due to icy roads.Authorities were also investigating whether two other deaths were related to the freezing weather across much of the archipelago, Matsuno told reporters.Hundreds of flights were cancelled due to the snowstorm, while delays and cancellations disrupted both local trains and long-distance Shinkansen services. Vehicles on major roads in several locations were left stranded, local media said.At the seventh-century Zenkoji Temple in the mountainous region of Nagano, north of Tokyo, a chilly calm descended with trees, old-fashioned lamp posts and the place of worship itself covered in layers of powdery snow.Visitors included some who were there for skiing but had been forced off the slopes by blizzard conditions."I came to ski, but the snow was incredibly heavy so I cut my plan short and instead decided to do a bit of sightseeing," 30-year-old Akiko Sotobori told AFP."The blizzard (at the ski resort) was such that I couldnt see anything three metres (10 feet) ahead."There were picturesque scenes in the former capital, touris...

Peru president calls for 'political truce' amid protests

Demonstrators throw stones at riot police during clashes within a protest against the government of Dina Boluarte, in Lima on January 24, 2023. (Photo: CFP)Perus President Dina Boluarte called for a "political truce" on Tuesday as hundreds of protesters again took to the streets of the capital, Lima, and clashes erupted between some people in the crowds and the police, witnesses said.Television footage showed some people and police officers were injured although not seriously. And after several hours of unrest in the city center, calm was eventually restored.The protests began in December when the then president, Pedro Castillo, was ousted. More than 50 people have been killed as a result of the unrest.Economy Minister Alex Contreras said that while weeks of protests have affected some sectors, particularly tourism, the economy could grow "close to" 4 percent this year, boosted by a $1.55 billion recovery plan, while the sol remains the most stable currency in the region.Nonetheless, protests have caused 2 billion soles ($516.65 million) in damages to production and 3 billion soles in damage to infrastructure, President Dina Boluarte said on Tuesday in a separate briefing.Boluarte blamed former president Castillo, who is serving an 18-month term of pretrial detention while he is investigated for "rebellion," for promoting political polarization during his nearly 17 months in power.She also said that the protests had at times turned violent because of "radical people" linked to drug trafficking, illegal mining and smuggling.Attempts to manage the economic impact of the unrest include a $1.55 billion plan, announced late last year, and targeted at the regions most affected by the protests.The plan includes the expansion of welfare provisions such as pensions, soup kitchens and access to natural gas in homes as well as public works, and investment in mining and agriculture.Contreras said that Peru was looking to promote lith...

Rwanda fires at Congolese military jet over alleged airspace violation

A picture taken on August 1, 2019, shows a general view of ships linking Goma and Bukavu on Lake Kivu, moored at the port in Goma, eastern DR Congo. (Photo: CFP)Rwandan forces on Tuesday fired at a fighter jet from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that it said had violated its airspace, prompting the Congolese government to accuse it of an act of war.A video shared widely on Congolese social media showed a projectile shooting towards an airborne military plane, before exploding in the air near the plane, which continued to fly. Reuters could not immediately verify the video.Congo denied Rwandas accusation that the jet had been in Rwandan airspace - the latest dispute between the two countries whose relationship has been strained by a rebel insurgency."The Rwandan shots were directed towards a Congolese aircraft flying within Congolese territory," it said in a statement, confirming the plane had landed in the provincial capital Goma without suffering major damage.It described Rwandas move as a "deliberate act of aggression that amounts to an act of war" aimed at undermining a peace agreement to end an offensive by the M23 rebel group.Earlier the Rwandan government said Rwandan forces had fired at the jet after it violated Rwandan airspace in Rubavu - the same area as previous alleged violations, "prompting the government to take defensive measures.""Rwanda asks the DRC to stop this aggression," government spokesperson Yolande Makolo said in a statement.Congo, United Nations experts and Western powers have accused Rwanda of backing the M23 in eastern Congo, which seized several towns and villages in renewed fighting last year. Rwanda has denied any involvement.Regional leaders brokered an agreement in November under which the Tutsi-led group was meant to withdraw from recently seized positions by January 15 as part of efforts to end the fighting that has displaced at least 450,000 people.Congolese President Felix Tsh...

South Korea, Japan grapple with heavy snow chaos, delays

A person shovels the snow in front of a shrine Wednesday Jan. 25, 2023 in Tottori, Tottori Prefecture, western Japan. (Photo: AP)Thousands of travelers swarmed a small airport in South Koreas Jeju island on Wednesday in a scramble to get on flights following delays by snowstorms as frigid winter weather gripped East Asia for the second straight day.Officials at South Koreas Ministry of the Interior and Safety didnt immediately report any major damage or injuries from subzero temperatures and icy conditions that have affected most of the country since Tuesday.But at least eight roads and 10 sea routes remained closed as of Wednesday afternoon. About 140 homes in capital Seoul and nearby regions reported busted water pressure pumps or pipes as temperatures dipped to around minus 15 to minus 20 degrees Celsius (5 degrees to minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit) across the mainland.In Japan, heavy snow and record cold temperatures also brought widespread disruptions.At least one person has died and two more deaths were being investigated in connection with the cold weather, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters.Thousands of people using train services in Kyoto and Shiga prefectures in western Japan were forced to stay overnight in carriages or stations, while vehicles on major roads across the country were left stranded and hundreds of flights canceled, Kyodo News reported.Air traffic returned to normal after hundreds of flights in and out of Jeju were grounded Tuesday because of strong winds and snow, stranding an estimated 40,000 travelers who had visited the resort island for Lunar New Year holidays.Around 540 flights, including nearly 70 that were temporarily added by transportation authorities in an emergency response, were scheduled in and out of Jeju on Wednesday alone, mostly to take passengers back to mainland cities.The Korea Airports Corporation said the operating hours at Gimpo airport near Seoul was extended until 1 a.m. to accommodat...

Fire erupts at oxygen filling plant in Thailand, rescue underway

Rescue operations are underway after a fire broke out at an oxygen filling plant in the Klong Luang District of central Thailands Pathum Thani Province.

Over 1 mln tourists travel in Cambodia during Chinese Lunar New Year: minister

Cambodia recorded about 1.04 million domestic and foreign tourists during the celebrations of the Chinese Lunar New Year, or the Spring Festival.

S. Korea's foreign currency deposit hits record high in December

(Photo: Xinhua)SEOUL, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) -- South Koreas foreign currency deposit hit a record high last month as companies placed more U.S. dollar fund in bank accounts, central bank data showed Wednesday.Deposit, denominated in foreign currencies, came in at 110.98 billion U.S. dollars at the end of December, up 3.59 billion dollars from a month earlier, according to the Bank of Korea (BOK).It has marked the highest since relevant data began to be compiled in 2012, keeping a record-breaking trend for the second successive month. The foreign currency deposit continued to grow for four months in a row.Local companies sought to secure more dollar fund amid rising uncertainty over the global economy.Deposit, denominated in the U.S. dollar, gained 1.86 billion dollars from a month earlier to 95.38 billion dollars at the end of December, and the Japanese yen deposit grew 0.53 billion dollars to 6.61 billion dollars.The euro deposit increased 0.99 billion dollars to 5.50 billion dollars, and the Chinese yuan deposit climbed to 1.78 billion dollars.Foreign currency deposit, owned by companies, rose 3.28 billion dollars to 96.10 billion dollars, and the individuals-possessed deposit added 0.31 billion dollars to 14.88 billion dollars.

China's optimized pandemic strategy to boost tourism, economy in Cambodia, world: officials

China's optimization of its COVID-19 strategy early this month could boost tourism and economic growth in Cambodia and the rest of the world, officials said here on Wednesday.

Philippine Air Force plane crashes in Philippines, 2 dead

A Philippine Air Force (PAF) plane crash-landed in a rice field in Bataan province during a training flight on Wednesday morning, killing two pilots, the military and police said.

Heavy snow, powerful winds disrupt transportation in Japan

TOKYO, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) -- Heavy snow and powerful winds are continuing to affect many parts of Japan on Wednesday, with the stormy conditions disrupting a number of transportation systems.Northern and western Japan may see heavy snowfall through Thursday. (Photo: AFP)As wide swathes of the country are in the grip of the coldest seasonal front in a decade, railway operators on major lines have cut back on services or suspended operations all together.East Japan Railway Company has said it will halt operations between some stations on the Yamagata Shinkansen line throughout Wednesday and part of Tohoku Shinkansen services will also be suspended.Both the Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen lines, meanwhile, are experiencing delays as bullet trains are running slower in some sections due to the frosty conditions.From the Tohoku to the Kyushu regions, some major expressways have been closed, with more likely to be shut depending on the snow.National roads could be closed for snow to be removed, the transport ministry said.Drivers have been urged to avoid making journeys that are not essential and to keep monitoring the changing weather and traffic conditions.In areas where snow and ice have formed, drivers are being advised to use winter tires and snow chains where necessary.Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways have also said they plan to cancel hundreds of flights on Wednesday and have asked passengers to check and confirm their flights as early as possible.The Japan Meteorological Agency said some parts of the country could see the mercury drop to the lowest level seen in a decade.The frosty climes are expected to continue through Thursday, the weather agency also said.

Elon Musk defiantly defends himself in Tesla tweet trial

Elon Musk returned to federal court to defend himself against a class-action lawsuit that alleges he misled Tesla shareholders with a tweet about an aborted buyout that the billionaire defiantly insisted Tuesday he could have pulled off, had he wanted.

US economy continues to weaken

Photo taken on Aug. 5, 2020 shows the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington D.C., the United States. (File photo: Xinhua)WASHINGTON, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. economy continued to weaken in January, with the rate of decline "among the steepest seen since the global financial crisis," said U.S. financial information and analytics provider S&P Global in a press release published Tuesday."The U.S. economy has started 2023 on a disappointingly soft note, with business activity contracting sharply again in January," Chris Williamson, chief business economist at S&P Global Market Intelligence, was quoted as saying by the release.According to the press release, S&P Global found the headline Flash U.S. PMI Composite Output Index, which measures certain aspects of the service and manufacturing sectors, up to 46.6 percent in January from 45.0 percent in December.However, the number remains under 50, the benchmark separating expansion from contraction, mirroring economists expectations that the U.S. economy could be heading for a recession this year.

Australia's annual inflation hits 7.8% in December, highest since 1990

(File photo: Xinhua)The annual inflation in Australia reached 7.8 percent in the December quarter, the highest since 1990, according to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday.

Classified documents found at former US Vice President Mike Pence's home

WASHINGTON, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- Former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence told Congress on Tuesday that classified documents had been found at his home in Indiana.In this file photo taken on April 12, 2022 former US Vice President Mike Pence speaks at a campus lecture hosted by Young Americans for Freedom at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia. (File photo: AFP)House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer said in a statement that Pence reached out on Tuesday about the misplaced documents."He has agreed to fully cooperate with congressional oversight and any questions we have about the matter," Comer said of Pence, who served as U.S. vice president from January 2017 to January 2021 under Donald Trump.Pences team reportedly informed the National Archives last week that a small number of potential classified documents were found in two small boxes.The documents were collected by federal agents at Pences home in Carmel, Indiana, on Thursday evening while Pence was in Washington, D.C.The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are said to have launched a review of the documents and how they ended up in Pences Indiana residence.Special counsels are separately investigating the handling of classified documents by Trump and sitting U.S. President Joe Biden.Trump took hundreds of classified records with him upon ending his presidency and resisted months of requests to return them to the federal government, the DOJ has said, noting that it had to obtain a search warrant to retrieve the documents.The FBI searched Bidens home in Wilmington, Delaware last week and located additional documents with classified markings, according to his lawyer.The discovery was the fourth time since November 2022 that classified records or materials have been found at a private address of Bidens.A new ABC News/Ipsos poll found that large majorities of Americans believe that both Trump ...

8 school children killed after boat capsizes in Ghana

(File photo:, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- Eight school children in Ghanas Bono East Region were killed Tuesday after the boat taking them to school capsized on the Volta Lake, officials confirmed. National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) told the media that the eight -- five boys and three girls aged five to 12 -- were among 20 pupils who were on their way to school in Wayokope, a community across the lake.Ibrahim Wudonyim, a coordinator of NADMO, said the Marine Police Unit of the Ghana Police Service, assisted by some locals, have recovered the bodies of the deceased.Investigations are underway to find out the cause of the accident.

Man who killed three in Washington state shoots himself dead: police

Police cordon off the area around a Circle K convenience store on Nob Hill Boulevard in Yakima, Washington. (Photo: AP)A gunman who killed three people, in what US police said was a random attack, telephoned his mother and then shot himself dead Tuesday in the state of Washington.The dismaying episode came on the heels of two mass shootings in California that have left 18 people dead as the United States grapples yet again with the horror of spiraling gun violence.Police in Yakima say a man they earlier named as 21-year-old local Jarid Haddock shot people in and around a convenience store overnight, before fleeing.Officers launched an extensive manhunt throughout the city of 100,000 people, which sits 100 miles (160 kilometers) southeast of Seattle, warning that the wanted man was armed and dangerous."It appears to be a random situation," Yakima Police Chief Matthew Murray said early Tuesday."There was no apparent conflict between the parties. They just walked in and started shooting."Hours later police received a 911 emergency call from a woman who said the wanted man had borrowed her phone."He then called his mother and he made several incriminating statements including I killed those people," Murray told reporters."He made several statements in front of her that he was then going to kill himself."First responders raced to the scene near a supermarket, arriving in time to hear gunshots as he killed himself."They gave medical care tried to save his life, but he was later pronounced deceased."The shooting in Yakima was the latest spasm of gun violence to shake the United States.On Monday, seven people died at two agricultural sites south of San Francisco when a Chinese-American farmworker is believed to have opened fire on his colleagues. Some of his victims are known also to be Chinese.On Saturday night, an elderly Asian man rampaged through a dance studio in Monterey Park near Los Angeles, killing 11 peop...

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