By Anuradha Raghu and Nguyen Phuong Linh KUALA LUMPUR/HANOI (Reuters) - A Malaysia Airlines flight carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew went missing off the Vietnamese coast on Saturday and was presumed to have crashed. There were no reports of bad weather and no sign why the Boeing 777-200ER would have vanished from radar screens about an hour after it took off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing. The Italian foreign ministry said in Rome that an Italian was listed on the flight's manifest although no national from the country was on board. The passenger list provided by the airline includes Luigi Maraldi, 37, an Italian citizen.
A ship seized by the Israeli navy on suspicion of smuggling arms from Iran to the Gaza Strip docked on Saturday in Israel, which planned to put the cargo on display in hope of denting Tehran's rapprochement with the West. Israel said it found dozens of advanced Syrian-made rockets hidden on board in Iran and destined for the ship's next port in Sudan, from where they would have been trucked through Egypt to Gaza. Iran and Gaza's Islamist Hamas rulers, both hostile to the Jewish state, rejected the Israeli findings as fabrications. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been dismayed at world powers' nuclear diplomacy with Iran since Tehran installed the relatively pragmatic Hassan Rouhani as president last year, voiced hope they would now rethink the outreach.
By Ulf Laessing and Feras Bosalum TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya threatened on Saturday to bomb a North Korean-flagged tanker if it tries to export oil from a rebel-controlled port east of Tripoli, in a major escalation of a standoff over the country's petroleum wealth. The rebels, who have seized three major ports since August to demand more autonomy, warned Tripoli against staging an attack to halt the oil sale after the tanker docked at Es Sider export terminal. The oil standoff is one part of deepening turmoil in the North African OPEC member, where the government is struggling to control militias who helped topple Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 but kept their weapons and are challenging state authority. A local television station controlled by protesters showed footage of pro-autonomy rebels holding a lengthy ceremony and slaughtering a camel to celebrate their first oil shipment.
By Alexander Dziadosz BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian government forces seized a village in the central Homs province on Saturday, state media and a monitoring group said, as part of a push for control of areas along the Lebanese border. The village of al-Zara, west of the city of Homs, fell after "heavy clashes" between government and rebel forces, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, although the number of casualties was not immediately clear. In a statement on state news agency SANA, Syria's armed forces said they had established complete control over the village and killed and captured a "large number of terrorists", using state media's customary term for rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad. The victory gave government forces control over a route connecting central Syria to the Mediterranean coast and which had been used as "a primary route for terrorist groups coming from Lebanese territory to neighboring areas to carry out criminal operations", it said.
By Suadad al-Salhy BAGHDAD (Reuters) - About two dozen Iraqi women demonstrated on Saturday in Baghdad against a draft law approved by the Iraqi cabinet that would permit the marriage of nine-year-old girls and automatically give child custody to fathers. The group's protest was on International Women's Day and a week after the cabinet voted for the legislation, based on Shi'ite Islamic jurisprudence, allowing clergy to preside over marriages, divorces and inheritances. "On this day of women, women of Iraq are in mourning," the protesters shouted. "We believe that this is a crime against humanity," said Hanaa Eduar, a prominent Iraqi human rights activist.
INZELL, Germany (AP) — Heather Richardson of the United States did it again on Saturday, claiming her second speedskating World Cup win over 500 meters one day after her first.
SOPOT, Poland (AP) — Ashton Eaton has successfully defended his heptathlon world indoor championship title but a world record escaped the American by just 1.18 seconds over the closing 1,000 meters.
Edinburgh (AFP) - A late penalty from Jean-Marc Doussain gave France their first away win in two years on Saturday as they beat Scotland 19-17 at Murrayfield in the Six Nations.
QPR got their Championship promotion campaign back on track with a 2-0 win at Birmingham, while Derby's bid to reach the Premier League was rocked by a 1-0 defeat against Millwall on Saturday. Harry Redknapp's team moved within six points of second placed Burnley, who face local rivals Blackburn on Sunday, thanks to a double from on-loan West Ham midfielder Ravel Morrison at St Andrews. Former Manchester United trainee Morrison, who resurrected his career during a loan spell at Birmingham last season, scored from a fine 14th-minute free-kick and netted a simple second in the 72nd minute to leave his old club without a win in their last 12 home games. It was a much-needed first victory in six matches for the west Londoners and Birmingham boss Lee Clark was so impressed by Morrison's display that he compared the 21-year-old to Tottenham and England legend Paul Gascoigne.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Four Central European nations are urging the United States to boost natural gas exports to Europe as a hedge against the risk that Russia could cut its supply of gas to Ukraine, but the White House says such a move would take more than a year.
Armed with cooking pots in a potent symbol of Venezuela's chronic food shortage, thousands took to the streets Saturday in the latest public rally against the government of President Nicolas Maduro. The protest, which fell on International Women's Day, consisted mostly of female demonstrators who noisily clanged their cookware to show their discontent over scarcity of basic goods and insecurity they say has become a part of daily life. The rally was called by the country's most prominent opposition leader, two-time presidential election runner-up Henrique Capriles, who lost to Maduro by a whisker in April 2013 elections. At least 20 people have now died since protests first erupted, giving Maduro his biggest test since succeeding late leader Hugo Chavez almost a year ago.
BERLIN (AP) — Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine's former prime minister, has begun medical treatment at Berlin's Charite hospital, but the doctors caring for her said Saturday it's too soon to say how long the treatment will take and what lasting damage the 53-year-old might have from three slipped discs she suffered while in prison.
SOCHI, Russia (AP) — In the fading light in the mountains above Sochi, the athletes and flags from Russia and Ukraine appeared side by side Saturday, united by success on the opening day of action at the Paralympics as the discord between their nations deepens.
SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Ukraine's first medalist of the Sochi Paralympics dedicated her achievement Saturday to Ukrainian independence and appealed for peace with Russia.
BEIRUT (AP) — Nada Sabbagh received a brief, chilling telephone call from her son-in-law last month telling her: "Come to your daughter. I am going to kill her."
Bujumbura (Burundi) (AFP) - Burundi's foreign minister on Saturday said one of his country's diplomats had been expelled from South Africa, though the reason was not immediately clear. The move comes after South Africa and Rwanda issued tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions on Friday amid a row over the attempted assassination of an exiled Rwandan general in Johannesburg. "South Africa has expelled Jean-Claude Sindayigaya, the first secretary of the embassy of Burundi," Foreign Minister Laurent Kavakure told AFP. Sindayigaya left South Africa on Friday, Kavakure said.
BEIRUT (AP) — Here is a look at women's rights across the Arab world:
For a time Jake Ball looked as if he might be the latest in a long line of Australia fast bowlers to terrorise England. But instead the Ascot-born Ball will try to inflict pain of a different kind on his homeland when he starts in the second row for Wales against England in the Six Nations at Twickenham on Sunday. Until the age of 16, Ball lived in Ascot, the commuter town south-west of London best known for its celebrated racecourse. And it was there that Ball, whose father played rugby for London Welsh and Harlequins and was born in the north Wales town of Pwllheli, took his first steps in sport.
Protesters took to the streets of Beirut Saturday on International Women's Day to demand better protection for women amid an uproar over husbands murdering their wives. Zoya Rouhana, director of KAFA (Enough), a leading women's rights group in Lebanon, said "the fact victims' relatives are starting to talk about these crimes means that the consciousness that one must not be silent is growing".
Manchester United kept their fading hopes of Champions League qualification flickering with a breezy 3-0 victory at West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League on Saturday. Goals from Phil Jones, Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck gave United back-to-back league wins for the first time since December, following their 2-0 success at Crystal Palace last month. Victory took the defending champions to within nine points of fourth-place Manchester City, although they have played two more games, while Pepe Mel's West Brom remain just above the relegation zone in 17th place.
CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's interim president on Saturday issued a much-anticipated decree governing an upcoming presidential election that clears the way for a vote many expect will be won by the country's military chief.
Bangui (Central African Republic) (AFP) - The Central African Republic's interim president on Saturday denounced atrocities being carried out against "Muslim sisters" across the country due to the brutal sectarian violence, in a speech to mark International Women's Day. "It is deeply sad that on this special day our Muslim sisters cannot be with us, simply because they were attacked yesterday and they fear for their safety," said Catherine Samba Panza, the first woman ever to lead Central African Republic.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Four Central European nations are urging the United States to boost natural gas exports to Europe as a hedge against the possibility that Russia could cut off its supply of gas to Ukraine.
KRANJSKA GORA, Slovenia (AP) — Benjamin Raich has reached a World Cup podium for the 91st — and probably last — time in his career at the same resort where he earned his first top-three finish 15 years ago.
BERLIN (AP) — Bayern Munich blitzed Wolfsburg with five goals in 17 minutes to come from a goal down and win 6-1 for a new Bundesliga record of 16 consecutive victories on Saturday.
A Beirut-based satellite television channel said that one of its cameramen was killed on Saturday while covering the fighting in eastern Syria. Omar Abdel Qader, who was killed in Deir Ezzor, worked for the privately owned Al-Mayadeen station which supports the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Media watchdogs have called Syria, where a war has been raging for nearly three years, the deadliest place in the world for journalists. "The cameraman Omar Abdel Qader, our colleague in Al-Mayadeen, was killed," said the channel, adding that he lost his life while covering clashes between regime forces and rebels in Deir Ezzor province.
Benghazi (Libya) (AFP) - Libya threatened on Saturday to bomb a North Korean-flagged tanker at an oil terminal in the restive east if it does not leave, saying it was loading illegally. Separatist militants blockading Al-Sidra facility attempted to load crude aboard the Morning Glory in the latest challenge to central government control. "The attorney general has given the order for the ship to be stopped," Prime Minister Ali Zeidan told a news conference. The self-proclaimed government of Cyrenaica in the east, the political wing of the separatists, said oil exports from Al-Sidra had now begun.