Month in brief

Double blow in Pulwama

Four Indian soldiers, a policeman and three suspected militants were among nine people killed in Indian-administered Kashmir during a gun battle on Feb. 18.The clash occurred in Pulwama, where four days earlier more than 40 Indian paramilitary police were killed in a suicide bombing – the worst attack in decades, which has fuelled tensions between old foes India and Pakistan.Police say the alleged militants were members of Pakistan-based group Jaish-e-Mohammad, which claimed responsibility for the bombing.


Courting Central Europe

Courting Central EuropeUS Secretary of State Mike Pompeoembarked on a tour of Central Europe in a bid to counter growing Chinese and Russian influence in the region, after a decade in which it has been sidelined by US diplomacy. Pompeo met Hungarian foreign minister Péter Szijjártó and the country’s right-wing prime minister Viktor Orbán, who was shunned under the Obama government for his moves against media freedoms and the rule of law, but with whom the  Trump administration prefers to engage.

Money for old rope

Sri Lanka has begun advertising for hangmen after itrestoredthe death penalty, inspired by FilipinoPresident Duterte’s tough approach to drug trafficking, which has drawn international criticism.The last execution in Sri Lanka took place 43 years ago, but president Maithripala Sirisena said he wants to restore capital punishment for drug traffickers in the next two months.The ads are asking for candidates who are Sri Lankan, male, aged between 18 and 45, and possess both ‘excellent moral character’ and ‘mental strength’.

Britain flexes military muscle

Britain’s new aircraft carrier, the Queen Elizabeth, is to be sent into disputed waters in the Pacific in a display of ‘hard power’to China. The vessel, with two squadrons of F-35 stealth fighters on board, is intended to show that Britain, along with its western allies,is ready ‘to use hard power’ to protect its interests, said UK defence secretary Gavin Williamson, who warned that Russia and China are blurring the boundaries between peace and war, and flouting international law.

Abe’s ‘no comment’

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has ‘refrained from commenting’ on whether or not he nominated Donald Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in helping to ease tensions with North Korea.Speaking in the lower house of parliament, Abe emphatically declined to remark on Trump’s recent claim that the Japanese premier had submitted the nomination to the Nobel committee, but he did say that he ‘highly’ appreciatedthe US President’sleadership and his work to curb North Korea’s nuclear and missile development.

Royal regret

A Thai princess has apologised for causing ‘problems’ for the people after her attempt to run for office in Thailand’s forthcoming election was swiftly blocked by her brother, the king. Princess Ubolratana’s unprecedented prime ministerial nomination by a party linked with ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra caused panic in the Southeast Asian nation and was promptlyscuppered by King Maha Vajiralongkorn who said it was ‘highly inappropriate’ for a member ofthe royal family to enter politics.

The big three

For the first time in 27 years, a tiger has been spotted in the Indian state of Gujarat, the last place in the worldthat is still the habitat of Asiatic lions.The region’s forest conservation chief welcomed the discovery, saying it made Gujarat the only state to have the lion, tiger and leopard. Officials in the northwest Indian province confirmed the presence of the adult tiger in a forest in Panchmahal district. Days earlier, a teacher had caused excitement when he photographed the animal crossing a road.

Foul conditions at KFC

Forty-two people in Mongolia have been hospitalised and hundreds more are showing symptoms of sickness from contaminated water and soda that health authorities have linked to a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in Ulaanbaatar. Officials said they found serious violations in health standards and a failure in internal hygiene controls, while laboratory tests detected bacteria in the drinking water and E. Coli in soda. The local licence holder of the KFC franchise, Tavan Bogd, is being held responsible.

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