World News

France begins troop drawdown in Central African Republic

France announced on Thursday it was reducing its troop numbers in the Central African Republic as it gradually hands over to a 8,500-strong UN peacekeeping force brought in to contain a deadly sectarian conflict.

Massive winter storm sweeps US from Texas to northeast

Hundreds of thousands of American students and government workers stayed home Thursday as a major winter storm hit from Texas to the northeastern United States.

Islamic State torches oil field near Tikrit as militia advance

Islamic State militants have set fire to oil wells northeast of the city of Tikrit to obstruct an assault by Shi`ite militiamen and Iraqi soldiers trying to drive them from the Sunni Muslim city and surrounding towns, a witness said.

Russia launches military drills in the southwest

Russia's military on Thursday launched maneuvers of air defense forces in the southwest of the country, the latest in a series of frequent drills amid tensions with the West.

Russia denies US claim of 'thousands' of troops in Ukraine

Russian officials on Thursday dismissed a claim by the United States that Moscow has sent "thousands" of troops to fight alongside pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.

British teacher jailed for IS link

A British high school teacher has been sentenced to six years in prison for his plans to fight alongside the Islamic State (IS) in Syria, Xinhua news agency reported on Thursday.

Boko Haram kills scores in NE Nigeria, militants amass in Gwoza

Boko Haram fighters killed 68 people, many of them children, in northeast Nigeria, as militants began amassing in the strategic town of Gwoza against a possible fight-back by military forces.

Delta plane slides off runway at New York's LaGuardia Airport

A Delta Air Lines jetliner with 125 passengers and five crew members aboard slid off the runway at New York`s LaGuardia Airport on Thursday during a snowstorm, but there were no reported serious injuries, officials said.

Saudi FM urges coalition to face IS challenge 'on the ground'

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal called on Thursday on the US-led coalition conducting air strikes against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq to fight the jihadists on the ground.

Canadian pastor held by North Korea: Officials

A Canadian pastor who went missing in North Korea is being held by the pariah state`s authorities, his church and Canadian consular officials said Thursday.

Burkina orders exhumation of slain leader Sankara`s corpse

The government of Burkina Faso has ordered former president Thomas Sankara`s corpse to be exhumed, potentially rekindling controversy over the 1987 assassination of one of Africa`s most idolised leaders.

Boko Haram fighters mass in Gwoza, several residents killed

Boko Haram militants have been amassing in the northeast Nigeria town of Gwoza, believed to be the group`s headquarters, killing residents who were unable to flee, a senator and witnesses said Thursday.

Storm drops over a foot of snow on eastern US

A winter storm reaching from Texas to New England closed schools, canceled nearly 3,000 flights and stranded hundreds of drivers overnight in Kentucky, where as much as 21.5 inches (55 cm) of snow fell.

Spain remands Ukrainian ex-finance minister in custody

A Spanish court on Thursday remanded in custody Ukraine`s former finance minister Yuri Kolobov pending his extradition to Kiev where he is wanted for alleged fraud and theft of public funds.

US warns about American youths seeking Islamic State connection

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security have warned law enforcement agencies across the country about American youths wanting to join Islamic State militants fighting in the Middle East, officials said on Thursday.

Interior minister removed as Egypt struggles against militants

Egypt`s Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim, whose security forces have struggled to curb attacks by Islamist militants, was replaced in a cabinet reshuffle on Thursday, the presidency announced.

Colombian army, FARC begin 'unprecedented' talks

Colombian army generals met commanders from leftist guerrilla group FARC for the first time Thursday to begin work on a ceasefire proposal aimed at ending their five-decade conflict.

Ex-crew recognises photos of sunken Japanese battleship

A former crewmember on a Japanese battleship that sank during World War II said on Thursday he recognised photos of wreckage discovered this week off the Philippines by a team led by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

Philippines to charge Australian on child sex charges

Philippine prosecutors said on Thursday they will file human trafficking and murder charges against an Australian man who allegedly sexually assaulted babies and children as part of a booming cyber-sex trade.

Warplanes hit Tripoli airport before UN talks start

Warplanes from Libya`s internationally recognised government carried out air strikes on a Tripoli airport on Thursday just hours before United Nations-backed peace talks were due to start in Morocco.

Britain should turn to middle-aged mums to be spies of the future: Report

Britain`s security agencies should look to recruit more middle-aged women and mothers to be new spies and should target websites popular with parents to find them, an influential committee of lawmakers said on Thursday.

Leaks from taps cause massive damage to Germany's spy agency

The German spy agency`s new headquarters was flooded by water after several taps were removed by thieves on its upper floors, police said on Thursday.

Egypt interior minister replaced in reshuffle

Egypt`s presidency said on Thursday Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim, who spearheaded a deadly crackdown on supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, had been replaced in a cabinet purge.

Russian troops dying in `large numbers` in eastern Ukraine: NATO

Pro-Russian separatist troops are dying in combat in "large numbers" in eastern Ukraine, where they have been fighting against government forces for a year, a NATO official said on Thursday.

UN rights boss seeks campaign to "discredit ISIL"

The top United Nations human rights official called on Thursday for an international campaign to "discredit ISIL", and urged Muslims worldwide to defend their faith against misrepresentation by violent extremists.

Another Saudi beheading adds to 'unprecedented' pace

Saudi Arabia beheaded one of its citizens for murder Thursday, adding to what Amnesty International has called an unprecedented pace of executions in the kingdom.

4,000 Filipinos still in Libya despite growing danger: Govt

Around 4,000 Filipinos remain in Libya despite the North African country's perilous security situation, staying put for higher salaries in spite of the risks presented by rival armed groups to migrant workers, the Philippines said on Thursday.

Russia denies US claim of `thousands` of troops in Ukraine

Russian officials on Thursday dismissed a claim by the United States that Moscow has sent "thousands" of troops to fight alongside pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.

Afghan men don burqas, take to the streets for women's rights

A group of Afghan men marched through the capital, Kabul, on Thursday to draw attention to women`s rights by donning head-to-toe burqas that for many people worldwide have come to symbolise the suppression of women.

New Zealand spying on South Pacific allies: Reports

New Zealand is conducting mass spying on its South Pacific neighbours then passing the information to a US-led intelligence alliance, media reports citing leaked documents said on Thursday.