Tokyo – A powerful typhoon pounded across the southern Japanese islands of Okinawa today, as residents took refuge from destructive winds, towering waves and storm surges.
Airports closed and residents were evacuated from low-lying areas and shorelines as Typhoon Neoguri passed over Okinawa, packing sustained winds of 108 miles per hour and gusts up to 154 mph, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. It said the storm could be one of the strongest to hit Japan in decades.
Forecasts showed the storm tracking toward Kyushu island and then across Japan’s main island of Honshu.
U.S. official in Bahrain expelled amid tensions
Manama, Bahrain – Bahrain announced Monday that it was expelling a top U.S. State Department official for meddling in its affairs, sharpening tensions between the Obama administration and a strategically important Persian Gulf ally.
The state-run Bahrain News Agency said the government had declared Tom Malinowski, assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, persona non grata because he had “intervened flagrantly” in its internal affairs.
The Obama administration depends on Bahrain, which is host to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet. Yet relations have been strained by U.S. efforts to work out a political accommodation between the Sunni Muslim monarchy and its restless Shiite Muslim majority.
Malinowski held meetings Sunday with Wefaq, a moderate Shiite group.
Ahmadzai in the lead as voter fraud under audit
Kabul, Afghanistan – Afghan officials released preliminary election results Monday showing former finance minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai well in the lead for the presidency but said no winner can be declared because millions of ballots were being audited for fraud.
The announcement came as Ahmadzai is locked in a standoff with his rival Abdullah Abdullah, who has refused to accept any results until all fraudulent ballots are invalidated.
The Independent Election Commission acknowledged that vote rigging had occurred and said ballots from about 7,000 more of the nearly 23,000 polling stations would be audited.
The results showed that Ghani had about 4.5 million votes, or 56 percent, while Abdullah had 3.5 million votes, or 44 percent, according to the commission.
Nigerian girls, women escape militant group
Maiduguri, Nigeria – More than 60 Nigerian girls and women abducted two weeks ago by Islamic extremists have managed to escape, officials said Monday, though more than 200 girls kidnapped in April still remain missing.
Nigerian security forces and federal officials have denied reports of a mass abduction June 22 from three villages in the northeastern state of Borno. But Chibok government chairman Pogu Bitrus said Monday he had verified that about 60 women and girls escaped last week.
Civil patrol leader Abbas Gava in Maiduguri, capital of Borno state, said he was told 63 women and girls escaped Friday while their captors were engaged in a major attack on a military barracks and police headquarters in the town of Damboa.
Boko Haram extremists have been waging an insurgency for five years in northern Nigeria, demanding the establishment of an Islamic state. More than 2,000 people have died so far this year in the Islamic uprising.
Deadly quake slams Mexico, Central America
Guatemala City – A magnitude-6.9 earthquake on the Pacific Coast jolted a wide area of southern Mexico and Central America Monday, killing at least three people while damaging homes, hospitals and churches.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake hit at 6:23 a.m. local time on the Pacific Coast 1 mile north-northeast of Puerto Madero, near the Guatemala border. It initially calculated the magnitude at 7.1 but later lowered the figure to 6.9.