By Aleksandar Vasovic and Alexei Anishchuk MARIUPOL, Ukraine/MOSCOW (Reuters) - Separatists attacked a Ukrainian national guard base overnight and Kiev said three of them were killed, the worst bloodshed yet in a 10-day pro-Russian uprising, accompanied by tough words from Vladimir Putin that overshadowed crisis talks. Ukrainian, Russian and Western diplomats held an emergency meeting in Geneva, seeking to resolve a confrontation that has seen pro-Russian fighters seize swathes of Ukraine while Moscow masses tens of thousands of troops on the frontier. The United States, Russia, Ukraine and the European Union were working on a joint statement on the crisis but had not reached agreement and talks were continuing, a Western official said. Seeking to put pressure on Moscow, NATO announced it was sending naval ships to the Baltic.
By Jungmin Jang and Narae Kim MOKPO/JINDO, South Korea (Reuters) - Rescuers struggled with strong waves and murky waters on Thursday as they searched for hundreds of people, most of them teenagers from the same school, still missing after a South Korean ferry capsized 36 hours ago. The vessel, carrying 475 passengers and crew, capsized on Wednesday during a journey from the port of Incheon to the holiday island of Jeju. Another 179 passengers have been rescued, leaving 282 unaccounted for and possibly trapped in the vessel.
By Dominic Evans and Anthony Deutsch BEIRUT/THE HAGUE (Reuters) - Syria has submitted a "more specific" list of its chemical weapons to the global regulator overseeing the destruction of its stockpile after discrepancies were reported by inspectors on the ground, officials said. Damascus agreed to give up its chemical arsenal after Washington threatened military action following the death of hundreds of Syrians in a sarin gas attack on the outskirts of Damascus during Syria's civil war last August. A diplomat said questions had been raised by member states at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) about the details of its chemical arsenal submitted by President Bashar al-Assad's government last year. The officials said the original list had been based on estimates, not exact amounts of toxic agents found in storage and production facilities across Syria.
By Fredrik Dahl VIENNA (Reuters) - Iran has acted to cut its most sensitive nuclear stockpile by nearly 75 percent in implementing a landmark pact with world powers, but a planned facility it will need to fulfill the six-month deal has been delayed, a U.N. report showed on Thursday. The monthly update by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has a pivotal role in verifying that Iran is living up to its part of the accord, made clear that Iran so far is undertaking the agreed steps to curb its nuclear program. Japan has made two more payments totaling $1 billion to Iran for crude imports, two sources with knowledge of the transactions said. Under the breakthrough agreement that took effect on January 20, Iran halted some aspects of its nuclear program in exchange for a limited easing of international sanctions that have laid low the major oil producer's economy.
By Suleiman Al-Khalidi AMMAN (Reuters) - Jordanian Islamist Ahmad Mahmoud fought with rebels in Syria for six weeks earlier this year, then slipped back across the border to seek treatment for a war wound - even though the authorities had warned him not to return. Within a week the bearded 23-year-old fighter found himself in the dock at a military court, facing terrorism charges filed by authorities who are taking an increasingly tough stance against homegrown militants fighting in Syria's civil war. Amman treats returning jihadists as a security threat to be nipped in the bud and, with an eye to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's potential to tough out the uprising against him, wants to keep channels open to a government with which it retains diplomatic and trade ties. Three years into Syria's civil war a growing number of Jordanian jihadists are coming home, some disillusioned by infighting within rebel ranks, others seeking a break from a draining and largely inconclusive conflict.
By Byron Kaye PERTH, Australia (Reuters) - Footage taken by a deep-sea drone should determine sooner than previously thought whether a remote stretch of the Indian Ocean is the final resting place of a missing Malaysian jetliner, Australian search authorities said on Thursday. After the U.S. Navy robot submarine Bluefin-21 completed its first full scan of the seabed some 2,000 km (1,240 miles) west of the Australian city of Perth, authorities said they had reduced the search area based on further analysis of what they believe may be signals from the plane's black box. It came as an air-and-sea search was expected to be scaled down almost six weeks after Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared from radar screens mid-flight with 239 people on board. However, with no pings received in more than a week and the black box's battery now 10 days past its approximate expiry date, authorities are relying on the Bluefin drone.
GENEVA (AP) — Top diplomats from the United States, European Union, Russia and Ukraine reached agreement after marathon talks Thursday on immediate steps to ease the crisis in Ukraine.
Three men were remanded in custody by a British court Thursday in connection with a hammer attack at a London hotel on three wealthy tourists from the United Arab Emirates. The attack happened in the early hours of April 6 in a room on the seventh floor of the four-star Cumberland Hotel, next to Hyde Park and the main Oxford Street shopping area. Philip Spence, 32, of no fixed abode, appeared at Southwark Crown Court in London charged with three counts of attempted murder and one of aggravated burglary, Scotland Yard said. Also in court were Thomas Efremi, 56, of Islington, north London, who is charged with handling stolen goods and fraud by false representation, and James Moss, 33, of Finsbury Park, north London, who is also charged with handling stolen goods.
MOSCOW (AP) — To understand Russian President Vladimir Putin's intentions in Ukraine, it helps to pay close attention to his choice of words and his reading of history. Here is what Putin had to say Thursday in a nationally televised call-in program:
DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — An official says the son of Senegal's former president will be tried for illicit enrichment following an investigation into how he amassed his multimillion-dollar fortune.
Prince Ali bin Al Hussein has savaged plans to hand his current role as FIFA vice-president to Asia's football boss in a row which threatens to plunge regional soccer into a fresh round of infighting. In an open letter, the Jordanian royal "strongly opposed" the proposal backed by Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, which will be put to the vote in June. "I stand firm by my conviction that all sport... should be free from politics and completely devoid of politicos and self-interest individuals and groups that exploit the sport and all its stakeholders for their own personal gains," Prince Ali wrote. Four of football's six global confederations combine the role of regional president and FIFA vice-president, with the AFC and South America's CONMEBOL the two exceptions.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. will send medical supplies, helmets and other nonlethal aid to the Ukrainian military in response to Russia's "dangerously irresponsible" efforts to destabilize the country, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday.
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met Thursday with US envoy Martin Indyk to try to find a way to extend faltering peace talks, with one Palestinian source calling the discussion "difficult". Israel implied that the delay had been caused by the killing of an Israeli police officer in the West Bank this week, but the Palestinians said the meeting was pushed from Wednesday to Thursday to enable Indyk to take part. Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met on their own on Sunday and held a three-way meeting with Indyk a week ago in last-ditch efforts to save the stagnant peace process launched by US Secretary of State John Kerry in July for a period of nine months. State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said this week that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are striving to reach an agreement to extend the talks beyond their April 29 deadline.
The execution of an Iranian convicted of murder was halted at the very last minute in a dramatic scene this week when the mother of his victim forgave him as he stood on the gallows with the noose around his neck, according to Iranian media.
To US government prosecutors, British hate preacher Abu Hamza was a global exporter of terrorism. A Manhattan federal court heard Thursday opening arguments in the trial of the 56-year-old Abu Hamza, accused of 11 kidnapping and terror charges that predate the 9/11 attacks. Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, better known in Britain as Abu Hamza al-Masri, has pleaded not guilty but faces the rest of his life in a maximum security US prison if convicted. Prosecutor Edward Kim told the 12-member jury that Abu Hamza had "recruited" and "indoctrinated" men whom he dispatched from a mosque in north London to all around the world to wage war.
Tunisia faces a growing jihadist threat in the mountainous region near the border with Algeria where several soldiers have been killed battling militant Islamists, the defence ministry said on Thursday. The presidency on Wednesday declared Mount Chaambi, as well as some surrounding areas including the mountains of Sammama, Salloum and Mghilla, "zones closed for military operations". Defence ministry spokesman Toufik Rahmouni said on Thursday the decision was prompted by the "growing number of threats made by terrorist organisations based in the area" and was designed to contain and limit their activities. Since late 2012, security forces have been battling dozens of militants hiding in the Mount Chaambi region just a few kilometres (miles) from the border.
Turkey's parliament on Thursday approved a controversial law expanding the powers of the spy agency and setting prison terms for publishing leaked information as the government fights back against a widening corruption scandal. The legislation, passed after a heated debate in parliament, was first introduced by lawmakers from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's AKP party in the run-up to last month's local elections. It also sets prison terms for journalists and others who publish leaked information, according to local media reports. Last week, Turkey's constitutional court annulled sections of another controversial law intended to tighten the government's control over the judiciary.
By Fatos Bytyci PRISTINA (Reuters) - Kosovo's premier has summoned parliament to vote on creating an EU-backed special court to try ethnic Albanian ex-guerrillas accused of harvesting organs from murdered Serbs during the Balkan state's 1990s war, but criticized the plan as an insult. The move stems from a 2011 report by Council of Europe rapporteur Dick Marty alleging that Kosovo Albanian guerrillas fighting a war of independence from Serbia had smuggled the bodies of Serbs into Albania and removed their organs for sale. "This issue is completely unfair and an insult for the state of Kosovo," Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, who was the political chief of the old Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), said on Thursday.
Britain's Laura Robson on Thursday revealed she will miss Wimbledon and the French Open after opting to have surgery on her troublesome wrist injury. Robson has been plagued by the left wrist problem throughout 2014 and has completed just one match this year, losing 6-3, 6-0 to Kirsten Flipkens in the first round of the Australian Open. She had retired hurt with a recurrence of the long-standing injury in her opening match against Yanina Wickmayer at a warm-up event in Hobart. The world number 64 used her Facebook page to announce she will have the operation, forcing her to miss her home Grand Slam at Wimbledon as well as the French Open, which precedes the grasscourt major in June.
Nearly 50 people were killed on Thursday when Syrian rebels attacked one of the largest military barracks in the country, in northern Aleppo, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. "Rebels, including fighters from Al-Nusra Front and the Islamic Front, launched an assault today on the barracks in Hanano in Aleppo," Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said. Abdel Rahman said the barracks is one of the largest in Syria. "It's strategically important because it's on a hill that overlooks parts of northern Aleppo," he added.
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Barcelona will be without Neymar and Jordi Alba for the final month of the season after both were injured during the Copa del Rey final loss to Real Madrid on Wednesday.
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Barring a drastic turn of fortune, Barcelona is on the brink of finishing its worst season since former coach Pep Guardiola molded it into one of the most successful sides to play the game.
By Orhan Coskun ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey's ruling party would overwhelmingly back Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's candidacy in the nation's first direct presidential election, senior officials said on Thursday, a move his opponents fear would feed his autocratic instincts. But Erdogan has said the popular vote will give the post more authority, and he has vowed to exercise its full powers if elected. A majority of the 300 deputies in Erdogan's AK Party voted in a secret ballot on Wednesday in favor of him running in the August presidential election, party officials told Reuters. His party's strong showing in local elections last month, despite a corruption scandal dogging his inner circle, has strengthened expectations he will do so.
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — The fate of 115 female students abducted by Islamic extremists was thrown into uncertainty Thursday when their school principal denied the Nigerian military's report that almost all the pupils had been freed.
The favourite in Guinea-Bissau's presidential election run-off said on Thursday he wants to pursue "ongoing dialogue" with the all-powerful army as the west African nation seeks to recover from a two-year-old coup. Jose Mario Vaz won Sunday's first-round election, which aims to turn the page on years of instability and military violence, but didn't get an outright majority and will face army-backed runner-up Nuno Gomes Nabiam in a second round on May 18. "Our relations are based on ongoing dialogue," Vaz, of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC), said of his plan to engage military chiefs. Vaz was the finance minister in the cabinet of prime minister Carlos Gomes Junior, who was overthrown by a military coup two years ago.
An Arab Israeli journalist has been arrested after making a visit to Lebanon, his mother said Thursday, on suspicion he could have joined a "hostile organisation". Majd Kayyal, 23, from the northern coastal city of Haifa, crossed into Jordan on March 23 and travelled on to Lebanon for a conference organised by As-Safir newspaper, Israel's Shin Bet domestic security agency said. A Shin Bet spokeswoman stressed Lebanon is defined as "an enemy country" and Israelis are prohibited from visiting. Public radio said Kayyal was suspected of contacts with the pro-Syrian Shiite militant group Hezbollah, an archfoe of Israel.
DUBLIN (AP) — Two former executives of Anglo Irish Bank were found guilty Thursday of committing fraud in a loans-for-shares scandal — the first convictions to stem from a banking crisis that brought Ireland to the brink of national bankruptcy.