12/01/2023, 10.02
ASIA TODAY
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Gaza, fighting resumes. Two Bedouins among the last hostages freed

Today's news: Kong Kong journalist 'disappears' during a trip to the People's Republic of China; Beijing and Hanoi negotiate to modernise a railway line in the area of rare earth deposits; Homes of 10 Christian families in Laos destroyed;  Moscow Patriarchate data reveals 700 Russian Orthodox priests with soldiers at the front.

ISRAEL-PALESTINE

After seven days of truce, fighting in Gaza resumed this morning, with the Israeli government accusing Hamas of violating the terms of the truce. The mediators are trying to resolve the differences to restart the exchange between the Israeli hostages and the Palestinian prisoners. Among the latest hostages released last night were two Bedouin brothers - Bilal and Aisha - kidnapped by Hamas while they were working in one of the kibbutzim near the Gaza Strip on 7 October.

HONG KONG-CHINA

Minnie Chan, a well-known journalist for the Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post, has disappeared after a business trip to the People's Republic of China. Chan had attended the three-day Xiangshan Forum in Beijing, a regional security forum that concluded on October 31. According to the Japanese agency Kyodo News, Chan's friends fear she may be under investigation by the Chinese authorities, while her newspaper does not respond to questions on the matter. The Hong Kong Journalists Association says it is "very concerned about Chan's safety and is asking the South China Morning Post for information on the incident."

VIETNAM-CHINA

Hanoi and Beijing are working on a possible significant modernization of their railway connections to strengthen a line that runs from Kuming in China through the heart of Vietnam - where the rare earth deposits are located - to reach Haiphong, the country's main port in the north. The talks are part of preparations for a possible visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Hanoi in the coming weeks.

LAOS

In a new case of crackdown on religious freedom in southern Laos, the homes of 10 Christian families were destroyed by local authorities in three villages in Samoey district of Saravan province. The families had already been kicked out about two months ago; they have now been provided with new land in an isolated area, but without providing them with any compensation or financial assistance.

GEORGIA

Georgia's main opposition party, the National Movement, has suffered yet another internal schism, with the expulsion of its former leader Nika Melia, who refused to submit to the wishes of jailed ex-president Mikhail Saakashvili. The current head of the party Levan Khabeišvili announced this live on TV, explaining that the party's sole candidate for the elections will always be Saakashvili himself.

RUSSIA

Metropolitan Kirill (Pokrovsky), head of the department of the Patriarchate of Moscow for collaboration with the armed forces, communicated at the session of the Universal Russian People's Council that there are approximately 700 Orthodox priests involved in assisting Russian soldiers at war in Ukraine, all volunteers without a fixed salary, and 7 of them died at the front.

KAZAKHSTAN

Thirteen people have died in a hostel fire in Kazakhstan's largest city, Almaty. Nine victims were Kazakhstanis, two were from Russia and two were from Uzbekistan. The causes of the fire are unclear: the government said it had set up a special commission to investigate the incident.

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