Covid, Beijing lifts entry restrictions from Hong Kong (and Macau).
Today's headlines: al-Sistan appeals for suffering Afghans, women in particular; In Vietnam, Dong Thap authorities pronounce child who fell into 35-meter shaft dead, recovery attempts futile; Taliban claim double killing of senior Pakistani officials; in Ukraine, Russian Wagner war cemetery fills up quickly with new burials; Armenian airline opens new connections with Moscow.
HONG KONG - CHINA
After a three-year closure for Covid-19, Beijing today formalized the opening of its border with Hong Kong as of Jan. 8. A further step toward China's normalization, following the sudden cancellation on Dec. 7 of strict zero-tolerance regulations enforced by the Communist Party. Entry restrictions from Macau also removed.
A North Korean drone violated the no-fly zone around the presidential office in Seoul last month. The admission came only today from a South Korean military official, after weeks of denials and silences. Pyongyang's vehicle briefly entered the 3.7-kilometer area around Yoon Suk Yeol's office, although it did not threaten major security facilities.
IRAQ - AFGHANISTAN
Iraq's top Shiite authority, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, appealed to Muslims and the international community, "not to abandon" Afghanistan. At the end of a meeting with a delegation of Afghan Shiites, he expressed "deep sorrow" for the suffering of the people, "particularly the women," and urged the preservation of unity, solidarity and peaceful coexistence.
An affair that held the country in suspense ended dramatically. Authorities in the southern province of Dong Thap announced the death of the 10-year-old boy who fell on New Year's Eve into a concrete pillar 25 cm wide and 35 meters deep while searching for scrap metal. Efforts will now be made to recover the body for burial.
The Pakistani Tehreek-e-Taliban Taliban claimed the killing of a senior intelligence officer linked to the premier's office and another security official. A sign of the group's growing activism, which has increased jihadist attacks in the country. The two were shot dead outside a hotel in Punjab on Jan. 3.
RUSSIA - UKRAINE
Wagner Company's Ukrainian war dead cemetery in the village of Bakinsk near Kuban in southern Russia is filling up fast with new burials, which have already exceeded 100, doubling in the past two weeks. The bodies buried there are those of mercenaries recruited from prisons, and unclaimed by any family members.
Armenia's Fly Arna airline has announced that direct flights from Yerevan's Zvartnots airport to Moscow's Šeremetevo airport four times a week will be opened from January 21, adding to those to Domodedovo and Soči, to "enable our passengers to visit Moscow and Russia in comfort and at good value."