SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Militants and government forces are fighting a gunbattle in the main city of Indian-controlled Kashmir. Police say the fighting began early Wednesday after troops cordoned off a neighborhood in Srinagar. Communications were limited in the city, as is routine during troop activity. Further information was not immediately available. Clashes between government troops and rebels had occurred during the day Tuesday during the last phase of local council elections that had low turnout in Muslim-dominated areas. Separatists and armed rebel groups had called for a boycott, viewing the polls as an illegitimate exercise under military occupation. Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, and most people in the Indian-controlled portion oppose Indian rule.
LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) — A serial killer of eight children was executed at a Pakistani prison Wednesday morning after the country's top court rejected a request for his public hanging, officials said. Mohammad Imran was hanged in the eastern city of Lahore in the presence of the father of 7-year-old Zainab Ansari whose rape and murder shocked Pakistan in January. Imran was arrested two weeks after he threw Zainab's body into a garbage dump in the city of Kasur in Punjab province. After his arrest, Imran confessed to the other slayings and was convicted by a court. Other courts later upheld his death sentence.
BIEN HOA, Vietnam (AP) — U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is getting a firsthand look at the enduring costs of fighting the Vietnam War. Mattis visited an air base north of Ho Chi Minh City that was heavily contaminated in the late 1960s and early 1970s by American forces through storage and spillage of the chemical defoliant Agent Orange. Four years ago the U.S. pledged to clean and restore the parts of Bien Hoa (bee-yen WAH') air base that were contaminated. The U.S. Agency for International Development soon will begin a soil restoration project at the base estimated to take several years and cost $390 million.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Relatives dressed in black funeral suits wept in grief on Wednesday as the bodies of five South Korean mountain climbers arrived home from Nepal where they had died in a storm last week. The caskets covered in white sheets were carried out from a terminal in Incheon International Airport before being loaded on vehicles headed to funeral homes in Seoul, Uijeongbu and Busan. The five South Koreans and four Nepalese guides died when a storm swept the base camp on Gurja Himal on Friday night. Due to the remote location and more bad weather, rescuers only reached the area a day later and took two days to have their bodies recovered and brought to Kathmandu, Nepal's capital.
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The prime minister has signaled that he could accept New Zealand's longstanding offer to resettle 150 refugees exiled to Pacific islands as long as the Australian Parliament legislates to ban them from ever setting foot in Australia. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday he was willing to brief non-government senators on the travel ban bill. "There is no support for that bill at present," Morrison told reporters. The center-left opposition Labor Party argues that a lifetime ban on refugees ever visiting Australia on a tourist or business visa was unnecessary and against Australia's interests. The conservative government is under mounting pressure to relax its five-year-old policy of banning asylum seekers who come by boat from ever settling in Australia.
SHANGHAI (AP) — It's now possible to check in automatically at Shanghai's Hongqiao airport using facial recognition technology, part of an ambitious rollout of facial recognition systems in China that has raised privacy concerns as Beijing pushes to become a global leader in the field. Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport unveiled self-service kiosks for flight and baggage check-in, security clearance and boarding powered by facial recognition technology, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China. Similar efforts are underway at airports in Beijing and Nanyang city, in central China's Henan province. Many airports in China already use facial recognition to help speed security checks, but Shanghai's system, which debuted Monday, is being billed as the first to be fully automated.
BEIJING (AP) — China on Tuesday characterized its mass internment of Muslims as a push to bring into the "modern, civilized" world a destitute people who are easily led astray — a depiction that analysts said bore troubling colonial overtones. The report is the ruling Communist Party's latest effort to defend its extrajudicial detention of Central Asian Muslim minorities against mounting criticism. China's resistance to Western pressure over the camps highlights its growing confidence under President Xi Jinping, who has offered Beijing's authoritarian system as a model for other countries. About 1 million Uighurs, Kazakhs and other minorities have been arbitrarily detained in mass internment camps in China's far west Xinjiang region, according to estimates by a U.N.
SYDNEY (AP) — The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are on a 16-day visit to Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand that began in Sydney with the surprise announcement that the royal couple are expecting their first child. News that the former Meghan Markle is pregnant has made front-page headlines across Australia. Meghan's tight-fitting dress barely revealed a bump as she and Prince Harry were welcomed at their first event Tuesday at the Sydney harbor-side mansion where the two are staying. The couple later traveled by boat to Taronga Park Zoo, where they opened a research center and met two 10-month-old koalas that had been named after them.
SYDNEY (AP) — There's clearly a special bond between Prince Harry and a 98-year-old war widow who gave him a warm hug Tuesday when they met — again — in Sydney. It's a regular catch-up. The widow, Daphne Dunne, tries to cross the prince's path whenever he comes to Australia. It's a natural fit for Harry, who has made championing the cause of veterans one of his principal causes. He first noted Dunne when he visited Sydney in 2015 and saw that she was wearing a Victoria Cross. That's a significant award that wouldn't escape Harry's eye. It is awarded to military personnel who show gallantry "in the presence of the enemy" and can be awarded posthumously.
BEIJING (AP) — China's ruling Communist Party has expelled a former top general who killed himself during a corruption probe and indicted another on graft charges amid President Xi Jinping's continuing crackdown on military malfeasance. Official media reported that Zhang Yang killed himself at home last November, after which they denounced his death as a "despicable" act to escape punishment. Tuesday's announcement renewed those accusations and said Zhang had been kicked out of the party and posthumously stripped of his rank. It said assets related to his crimes would be seized. Zhang formerly headed the Political Work Department under the government and party commissions that oversee the People's Liberation Army, the world's largest standing military.