In brief: North Korean launches said to be protest
SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea today fired two short-range projectiles into waters off its east coast, South Korean officials said, on the eve of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s talks in Seoul expected to focus on the North’s nuclear weapons program.
The launches, the third in a week, were believed to be sending a message that the North is boosting its defenses and expressing its displeasure that Xi will become the first Chinese leader to visit rival South Korea before the North, analysts say.
The projectiles, with a range of 110 miles, were fired from the eastern coastal city of Wonsan and harmlessly landed in the sea this morning, South Korean defense officials said on condition of anonymity because of department rules.
Hundreds arrested after democracy rally
HONG KONG – Hong Kong police have arrested more than 500 people holding a sit-in a day after tens of thousands in the former British colony joined a massive march to push for democracy.
Anger at mainland China has never been greater after Beijing warned recently it holds the ultimate authority over the freewheeling capitalist enclave.
That’s despite a mini-constitution that gives the city a high degree of autonomy until 2047.
Police said 511 people were arrested today for unlawful assembly and preventing police from carrying out their duties. They were holding an overnight sit-in after the rally.
Police said 98,600 people joined Tuesday’s rally at its peak, while organizers said 510,000 turned out, the highest estimates in a decade. Hong Kong University researchers put the number at between 154,000 and 172,000.
Blast at marketplace leaves scores dead
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria – A car bomb in a marketplace in Maiduguri, the northeast Nigerian city that is the birthplace of Boko Haram extremism, killed at least 56 people on Tuesday, the leader of a civilian group that recovered the bodies said.
Sadiq Abba Tijjani, leader of the Civilian Joint Task Force, told the Associated Press his group recovered at least 56 dead bodies at the blast site, mostly elderly women who sold peanuts and lemon juice at the market.
Tijjani said they managed to identify 21 of the dead but the rest “were either burnt or damaged beyond recognition.”
Witnesses and officials blamed Boko Haram. The group, which attracted international attention with its April abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls, has scaled up its activities in recent months, launching more frequent and deadly attacks.
Sarkozy arrested in Gadhafi probe
PARIS – Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was in police custody Tuesday, apparently under questioning in an investigation linked to allegations that he took $67 million in illegal campaign funds from Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi.
But will the detention and case torpedo Sarkozy’s chances at a presidential comeback? Maybe not.
Sarkozy, who’s been touring the world with his pop singer wife, is still among the most popular politicians in France.
The 59-year-old hasn’t been convicted of anything and remains well-known on the international stage. And he may be his troubled conservative party’s best chance to regain the presidency in 2017, after losing it to Socialist Francois Hollande in 2012.
A judicial official said Sarkozy was detained for questioning Tuesday at the headquarters of the judicial police in the Paris suburb of Nanterre. French police, prosecutors and other judicial officials would not provide any details.
French media reports say Sarkozy is being questioned in an investigation linked to financing for his 2007 presidential campaign, notably allegations that late Libyan leader Gadhafi gave Sarkozy illegal donations.
Sarkozy has vigorously denied wrongdoing.