Tokyo: Pyongyang has launched a ballistic missile that can hit the US
Today's headlines: a devastating fire north of the Gaza Strip kills 21 people, including seven children; Beijing, more online censorship:comments must be approved; wild animal trafficker arrested by Thai police with tiger cubs from Laos; Afghan refugees in Pakistan fear mass arrests; Russian ports are on the verge of collapse.
NORTH KOREA - JAPAN
The Kim regime has tested another missile. According to the Japanese government, Pyongyang has launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that can hit the US. The rocket sank into the Sea of Japan, 210 km west of Hokkaido. Washington condemned the test - in response to the growing US presence - and Seoul called for tougher responses towards the North.
At least 21 people died, including seven children, in a fire that broke out yesterday in a residential building in the Jabalia camp, north of the Gaza Strip. Sources at the al-Andounisi hospital report that several of the injured are in a serious condition and the death toll is expected to rise. The cause of the fire, which was extinguished by firemen after hours, is unknown.
PAKISTAN - AFGHANISTAN
A video of Afghan refugees, tied together with a rope and taken away by the police, has revived fears of mass arrests in Pakistan. The footage has gone viral and shows some of the immigrants detained in the southern province of Sindh, part of a group of 1,500 that includes women and children. In case of irregular or absent visas Islamabad threatens sentences of up to three years in prison.
Beijing is imposing a further clampdown on online comments, requiring websites, apps and platforms to seek 'political' approval before posting comments or emoticons. Censorship imposes from 15 December a text review before going online, which applies to any platform open to public opinion or used for 'social mobilisation'.
THAILAND - LAOS
Thai police arrested an endangered wildlife trafficker. Sixty-three-year-old Thanad Wongsarm was stopped while selling four two-month-old tiger cubs for more than EUR 42,000. He faces up to 10 years in prison. The animals allegedly come from Laos, where there are no longer any wild felines in the forests, but specimens are bred in mini-zoos or tiger farms.
Russian ports are on the verge of collapse, in particular that of Astrakhan on the Caspian Sea, where commercial cargoes arrive from India and ships are forced to wait 2-3 weeks before they can unload. The infrastructure is proving insufficient for the new needs, and there is a drastic shortage of personnel, also putting Iran's transit ports to the test.
ARMENIA - AZERBAIJAN
The interventions and Twitter messages of Armenian PM Pašinyan, who accuses Azerbaijanis of seeking the genocide of Armenians in Nagorno Karabakh, are multiplying. The inhabitants are reportedly terrified by President Aliev's threatening public proclamations in military uniform and the widespread construction of trenches and military bunkers, with provocations that could soon lead to new violent clashes.