11/25/2023, 11.39
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Hamas releases 24 hostages on the first day of its truce with Israel

Today's headlines: Special anti-migrant checkpoints have been set up at the Finland-Russia border. The Philippines is considering rejoining the International Criminal Court. Anti-junta militias continue to advance in Myanmar. To boost tourism and business, China will allow travellers from six countries, including Italy, to enter the country visa-free as of 1 December.


Hamas on Friday released 24 hostages out of 240 it captured on 7 October, including 13 Israeli women and children. The hostages were taken to Egypt before arriving in Israel. The group includes 10 Thai nationals – including four who had not been officially listed as abductees – and one Filipino. Israel released 39 Palestinian detainees at a West Bank checkpoint. The Israeli Prime Minister's Office says it has received a list of prisoners who will be released today on the second day of the four-day truce.


Special checkpoints have been set up every 15 km on the road to Murmansk and the region north of Russian Karelia, the northernmost part of European Russia on the border with Finland, to try to contain a wave of migrants who can no longer use the other border posts after Finland closed them.


Attempts to rescue 41 men trapped in a highway tunnel under India's Himalayas for nearly two weeks have hit a snag, with several recurring problems with drilling equipment, officials said. Construction workers from some of India's poorest states have been stranded in the 4.5-km tunnel under construction in the state of Uttarakhand. The authorities said that the men are safe, with access to oxygen, food, water, and medicines.


The Russian Interior Ministry has issued a federal arrest warrant for humanitarian activist Grigory Sverdlin. Now living in exile, the creator of the "Go to the Woods" project has been helping Russians defect or avoid mobilisation for the war in Ukraine since 2022. It is unclear under what article of Russia’s Penal Code charges were laid.


The Philippines is considering rejoining the International Criminal Court nearly five years after it pulled out under the Duterte administration over the court's attempt to investigate the then-president anti-drug campaign.


The US military in Japan has moved its reconnaissance drone operations unit to Okinawa despite objections from the local population. According to the Japanese government, this is aimed at strengthening surveillance of Chinese activities in nearby waters. Japanese Defence Minister Minoru Kihara said earlier this month that eight MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft began operating at US Kadena Air Base in Japan, and will remain there "indefinitely”.


A week after local armed resistance groups seized Rikhawdar, a trade post on the Indian-Myanmar border, the country’s ruling military junta lost another town on Friday in Chin State. Fighting between the army’s 304th infantry battalion and a group of fighters led by the Chin National Army (CNA), the armed wing of the Chin National Front (CNF), also broke out earlier this week in Lailenpi, a small town located in the northwest of Matupi district. After capturing the main military base in Lailenpi, located some eight kilometres from the Myanmar-India border and 80 kilometres south of Rikhawdar, anti-junta armed groups released a video showing them hoisting the CNF flag over the base.


From 1 December 2023 to 30 November 2024, travellers with passports from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Malaysia will be able to travel to China and stay for up to 15 days without a visa. The goal is to promote China's opening-up, this according to Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning, and  jump-start the country’s economy, whose post COVID-19 recovery has been slower than in the West. Currently, most visitors need a visa to enter the People’s Republic.

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