Cairo, Dec 26 (AP/UNB) — The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing at Libya's Foreign Ministry in Tripoli that killed at least three people.
In a statement carried by its Aamaq news agency Wednesday, IS says three fighters infiltrated the area and fired on Foreign Ministry workers.
Libyan officials say a suicide bomber targeted the entrance to the ministry and another was shot dead by guards before he could detonate his explosives.
Libya's Health Ministry says the Tuesday attack wounded 10 other people.
Libya was plunged into chaos following the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed Moammar Gadhafi, allowing IS and other extremist groups to gain a foothold.
Rome, Dec 26 (AP/UNB) — A quake triggered by Italy's Mount Etna volcano has jolted eastern Sicily, slightly injuring 10 people and prompting frightened Italian villagers to flee their homes.
Italy's Civil Protection officials said the quake, at 3:19 a.m. Wednesday, was part of a swarm of some 1,000 tremors, most of them barely perceptible, that are linked to Etna's ongoing eruption this week.
The 4.8 magnitude earthquake early Wednesday damaged some rural homes, including structures that had been abandoned years ago, toppled a statue in a church in the town of Santa Venerina and opened up cracks on a highway, which was closed for inspection.
The Italian news agency ANSA said an 80-year-old man was extracted from the rubble of a house.
Government undersecretary Vito Crimi said there were no fatalities and 10 slight injuries.
Seoul, Dec 26 (AP/UNB) — North and South Korea broke ground Wednesday on an ambitious project to modernize North Korean railways and roads and connect them with the South, but without progress in nuclear negotiations, regular trains won't be crossing the border anytime soon.
The ceremony at the North Korean border town of Kaesong came weeks after the Koreas conducted a joint survey on the northern railway sections they hope to someday link with the South. It's one of several peace gestures agreed between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and liberal South Korean President Moon Jae-in as they push ahead with engagement amid a stalemate in larger nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang.
But beyond on-site reviews and ceremonies, the Koreas cannot move much further along without the removal of U.S.-led sanctions against the North.
A South Korean train carrying about 100 people — including government officials, lawmakers and aging relatives separated by the 1950-53 Korean War — rolled into the North Korean border town of Kaesong, where they were greeted by North Koreans including Ri Son Gwon, who heads an agency dealing with inter-Korean affairs.
North and South Korean officials signed a wooden railroad tie, unveiled a new signboard and observed a ceremonial connecting of northern and southern tracks at Kaesong's Panmun Station, according to South Korea's Unification Ministry.
Officials from China and Russia were also invited to witness the symbolic start of an ambitious project Seoul hopes will one day link South Korea with the Trans-China and Trans-Siberian railways. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, executive secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, also attended, according to the South Korean ministry.
The Seoul government plans to conduct further surveys on North Korean railways and roads before drawing up a detailed blueprint for the project. Actual construction will proceed depending on the progress in the North's denuclearization and the state of sanctions against the country, the ministry said.
"We plan to hold detailed negotiations with the North to coordinate on the specific levels we want to achieve in the modernization of railways and roads and how to carry out the project," said Eugene Lee, the ministry's spokeswoman.
Even if the North takes concrete steps toward denuclearization and gains sanctions relief, some experts say updating North Korean rail network could take decades and massive investment.
Seoul said it received an exemption to sanctions from the U.N. Security Council to proceed with Wednesday's ceremony as it involved South Korean transport vehicles and goods. The Koreas' joint survey of North Korean railways in November, which also required U.N. approval, marked the first time a South Korean train traveled on North Korean tracks.
The Koreas in December 2007 began freight services between South Korea's Munsan Station in Paju and the North's Panmun Station to support operations at a now-shuttered joint factory park in Kaesong. The South used the trains to move construction materials north, while clothing and shoes made at the factory park were sent south. The line was cut in November 2008 due to tensions over North Korea's nuclear ambitions.
The Kaesong factory park was shut down under the South's previous conservative government in February 2016 following a North Korean nuclear test and long-range rocket launch.
Washington, Dec 26 (AP/UNB) — Christmas has come and gone but the partial government shutdown is just getting started.
Wednesday brings the first full business day after several government departments and agencies closed up over the weekend due to a budgetary stalemate between President Donald Trump and Congress. And there is no end in sight.
So far, the public and federal workers have largely been spared inconvenience and hardship because government is closed on weekends and federal employees were excused from work on Christmas Eve and Christmas, a federal holiday. The shutdown began at midnight last Friday.
Trump said Tuesday that the closed parts of the government will remain that way until Democrats agree to wall off the U.S.-Mexico border to deter criminal elements. He said he's open to calling the wall something else as long as he ends up with an actual wall.
Asked when the government would reopen fully, Trump said he couldn't say.
"I can't tell you when the government's going to be open. I can tell you it's not going to be open until we have a wall or fence, whatever they'd like to call it," Trump said, referring to Democrats who staunchly oppose walling off the border.
"I'll call it whatever they want, but it's all the same thing," he told reporters after participating in a holiday video conference with representatives from all five branches of the military stationed in Alaska, Bahrain, Guam and Qatar.
Trump argued that drug flows and human trafficking can only be stopped by a wall.
"We can't do it without a barrier. We can't do it without a wall," he said. "The only way you're going to do it is to have a physical barrier, meaning a wall. And if you don't have that then we're just not opening" the government.
Democrats oppose spending money on a wall, preferring instead to pump the dollars into fencing, technology and other means of controlling access to the border. Trump argued that Democrats oppose a wall only because he is for one.
The stalemate over how much to spend and how to spend it caused the partial government shutdown that began Saturday following a lapse in funding for departments and agencies that make up about 25 percent of the government.
Some 800,000 government workers are affected. Many are on the job but must wait until after the shutdown to be paid again.
Trump claimed that many of these workers "have said to me and communicated, 'stay out until you get the funding for the wall.' These federal workers want the wall. The only one that doesn't want the wall are the Democrats."
Trump didn't say how he's hearing from federal workers, excluding those he appointed to their jobs or who work with him in the White House. But many rank-and-file workers have gone to social media with stories of the financial hardship they expect to face because of the shutdown.
Shanghai, Dec 26 (Xinhua/UNB) -- China's first domestically-made regional jetliner, the ARJ21-700, completed its first manned overwater demonstration flight in southern China's island province of Hainan on Tuesday.
An ARJ21-700 aircraft took off from Haikou Meilan International Airport and landed in the airport after a two-and-half-hour flight, showcasing its operational capacity in the tropical marine climate, according to the Shanghai-based Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China (COMAC), its producer.
The demonstration flight has further expanded the aircraft's operation area in China. So far, it has completed flights between dozens of domestic airports, demonstrating its adaptability to extreme conditions, such as high temperatures, high humidity, and high altitude.
The ARJ21-700 is a jet with 78 to 90 seats and a flight range of up to 3,700 km. It acquired its aircraft type certificate in December 2014 and completed its maiden flight in June 2016. Mass production started in September 2017.
So far, the aircraft has been operated by three Chinese airlines, Chengdu Airlines, Genghis Khan Airlines, and Urumqi Air.
China has in recent years stepped up efforts to build its commercial aircraft industry. Besides the ARJ21-700, COMAC has also unveiled the larger C919 jet, a narrow-body jumbo jet designed to rival the Airbus A320 and the Boeing 737.