Syria, Mar 9 (AP/UNB) — The newborn son of U.K.-born teenager Shamima Begum who left her London home to join the Islamic State group in Syria died Friday in a refugee camp, an official said.
Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces, confirmed that the infant died at a camp in north Syria. He didn't provide further details.
In a day of conflicting reports about the baby's fate, lawyer Tasnime Akunjee tweeted that he had "strong but as yet unconfirmed reports that Shamima Begum's son has died. He was a British citizen." He declined to provide further details.
Then, Bali tweeted that the reports were "fake" and the baby "is alive and healthy." But he later deleted the tweet without explanation, and shortly after confirmed the baby's death.
The British government couldn't confirm the reports.
Begum was 15 when she and two friends left London to marry IS fighters in Syria in 2015, at a time when the group's online recruitment program lured many impressionable young people to its self-proclaimed caliphate.
Begum recently resurfaced in a refugee camp, and gave birth last month.
Begum, now 19, told journalists that she wanted to raise her son in Britain, but the government revoked her citizenship. Begum told reporters that she had lost two other children to malnutrition and disease.
Her Dutch jihadi husband Yago Riedijk, who is in a Kurdish-run detention center, said last week that he wanted to return to the Netherlands with Begum and their son.
British Home Secretary Sajid Javid said last month he had revoked Begum's citizenship — even while saying he wouldn't make a decision that would render a person stateless. Javid also confirmed that Begum's son was a British citizen, though he said it would be "incredibly difficult" to facilitate the return of a child from Syria.
Begum's parents are from Bangladesh but her family says she isn't a dual citizen. The family has said it plans to challenge Javid's decision.
Mexico, Mar 8 (AP/UNB) — Authorities in the southern Mexico state of Chiapas say at least 25 Central American migrants have died when the truck they were traveling in overturned.
The Chiapas state prosecutor's office said in a statement late Thursday that 29 others were injured in the accident. It appears the driver lost control of the truck around 6 p.m. near the town of Francisco Sarabia in the municipality of Soyalo.
The injured were transported to hospitals. Authorities did not provide the nationalities of the victims, and say the investigation continues.
Chiapas is the historic entry point for Central American migrants arriving in Mexico from Guatemala. The normal migratory flow has attracted additional attention will the arrival of several large migrant caravans from Central America during the past year.
Indonesia, Mar 8 (AP/UNB) — Three Indonesian soldiers and at least one Papuan independence fighter were killed in a gunbattle, the military said, adding to more than two dozen deaths in the conflict since November.
A force of 50-70 rebels armed with military-grade weapons as well as spears and arrows attacked a group of 25 soldiers in Nduga district in a battle lasting several hours Thursday, said Muhammad Aidi, the military spokesman for Indonesia's easternmost Papua region.
The jungled highlands district was the location of a December attack by Papuan fighters on workers at a construction site for the trans Papua highway that killed 19. Large numbers of people have been displaced by military and police security operations since the Dec. 2 attack.
At least 31 people have died since early November in an apparent escalation of attacks by the West Papua National Liberation Army. The figure doesn't include unconfirmed civilian deaths that Papuan activists say resulted from security operations following the Dec. 2 attack.
Aidi said the military killed seven to 10 of the Papuan fighters but only found one body, saying the rest were carried away by other fighters. Sebby Sambom, a spokesman for the liberation army, said five soldiers were killed and admitted no deaths for the Papuan fighters. Both sides claimed to have captured weapons.
An insurgency has simmered in Papua, which makes up the western half of the island of New Guinea, since the early 1960s when Indonesia annexed the Dutch-controlled territory.
Discrimination against indigenous Papuans and abuses by Indonesian police and military have drawn renewed attention globally as Indonesia campaigns for membership in the U.N.'s human rights watchdog.
The exiled leader of the Papuan independence movement, Benny Wenda, in January presented a 1.8 million-signature petition calling for self-determination to the U.N. human rights chief in Geneva.
Aidi said the soldiers had arrived in the area to guard work on the trans Papua highway and the attack was unprovoked. According to Sambom, the soldiers had burned traditional dwellings and interrogated villagers, hoping to get information about liberation army positions.
Two helicopters sent to take the bodies of the three killed soldiers to the mining town of Timika were shot at but eventually landed after Indonesian forces returned fire, Aidi said.
China, Mar 7 (AP/UNB) — Chinese tech giant Huawei has filed a lawsuit in Plano, Texas, challenging a law that labels the company a security risk and would limit its access to the American market for telecom equipment.
Huawei Technologies Ltd.'s announcement Thursday comes as the biggest global maker of network equipment for phone and internet companies fights U.S. efforts to persuade allies to exclude the company from next-generation telecom systems.
Huawei said its complaint asks a federal court in Plano to throw out a portion of this year's U.S. military appropriations act that bars the government and its contractors from using Huawei equipment.
Huawei, China's first global tech brand, is at the center of U.S.-Chinese tensions over technology competition and cyber-spying. The company has spent years trying to put to rest accusations it facilitates Chinese spying or is controlled by the ruling Communist Party.
Increasingly, both sides appear to be resorting to courts to try to press their cases.
"We are compelled to take this legal action as a proper and last resort," the company's rotating chairman, Guo Ping, said at a news conference. Guo said the ban would limit competition, slowing the rollout of fifth-generation communications and raising consumer prices.
Huawei has pleaded not guilty to U.S. trade-theft charges after a federal court in Seattle unsealed a 10-count indictment in January against two of its units, Huawei Device Co. and Huawei Device USA. The charges include conspiracy to steal trade secrets, attempted theft of trade secrets, wire fraud and obstruction of justice.
The company's chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, is fighting extradition to the U.S. after she was arrested in Vancouver, Canada on Dec. 1. U.S. prosecutors have filed charges accusing Meng, who is the daughter of Huawei's founder, of lying to banks about dealings with Iran.
Huawei denies any wrongdoing.
The company has about 40 percent of the global market for network gear but its U.S. sales evaporated after a congressional panel in 2012 cited the company and a Chinese competitor, ZTE Corp., as security risks and told phone carriers to avoid dealing with them.
U.S. authorities "have hacked our servers and stolen our emails" but have presented no evidence to support their security claims, Guo said. He complained Washington was "sparing no effort to smear" the company.
The U.S. campaign to persuade allies to shun Huawei threatens to block access to major markets as phone carriers prepare to invest billions of dollars in 5G systems.
Huawei says the new law would shrink its potential U.S. market further by prohibiting the government from buying the Chinese vendor's technology and from buying goods or services from or giving grants or loans to companies or other third parties that do. The United States accounts for 20 to 25 percent of the global market for computer and telecom technology.
The company is challenging the U.S. law as an unconstitutional "bill of attainder," or a measure that targets a specific individual for penalties without a trial. The company says that infringes its due process rights and improperly has Congress play the role of a court.
The ban is "based on numerous false, unproven and untested propositions," said Song Liuping, the company's chief legal officer, at the news conference. "Huawei has an excellent security record and program. No contrary evidence has been offered."
The Chinese government says Washington fabricates or exaggerates security concerns to block competition.
Huawei, based in Shenzhen, near Hong Kong, is a leading developer of 5G along with rivals Nokia Corp. of Finland and Sweden's LM Ericsson. Industry analysts say excluding the Chinese vendor from markets for 5G equipment would reduce competition and might lead to higher prices.
Founded in 1987 by a former military engineer, Huawei overtook Ericsson in 2017 as the biggest global supplier of network gear. It says it supplies 45 of the world's top 50 phone companies and has contracts with 30 carriers to test 5G wireless technology.
European governments are balking at U.S. pressure to ban Huawei. The company has announced contracts with customers including the United Arab Emirates in the Middle East for network technology.
China's government arrested two Canadians, a former diplomat and a businessman, on Dec. 10 in what was widely seen as an attempt to pressure Canada to release Meng, the company's CFO.
On Monday, Beijing accused the two men of acting together to steal state secrets. That followed the Canadian government's announcement Friday that the extradition proceeding for Meng would be allowed to continue.
Huawei executives say American security warnings have yet to affect sales outside the United States. The company's 2018 revenue forecast is $100 billion and its founder, Ren Zhengfei, said last month this year's target is $125 billion.
Some European officials and others cite a Chinese security law requiring companies to cooperate with intelligence agencies. They say Huawei and other tech companies might be required to install "backdoors" in equipment to allow eavesdropping.
Huawei denies altering its equipment to facilitate spying and has set up testing centers in Britain, Canada and continental Europe to allow governments to examine its technology.
"Huawei has not and will never implant 'backdoors,' " said Guo, the chairman.
The company also has launched a public relations campaign abroad.
Its typically press-shy founder, Ren, gave a two-hour interview to foreign reporters in January in which he said Huawei would reject Chinese government demands to disclose confidential information about its customers. Since then, Ren also has talked at length with foreign TV broadcasters.
Venezuela, Mar 7(AP/UNB) — The Venezuelan government on Wednesday ordered the German ambassador to leave the country after he expressed support for Juan Guaido, escalating a diplomatic standoff with a group of about 50 nations that recognize the opposition leader as the country's interim president.
Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza tweeted a statement saying Ambassador Daniel Kriener interfered in Venezuela's internal affairs and allied himself with "extremist sectors" of the opposition.
Venezuela considers it unacceptable that a foreign diplomat would take on "a public role more appropriate to that of a political leader," the government statement said. It gave Kriener 48 hours to leave the country.
Kriener and some other diplomats greeted Guaido when he returned to Venezuela on Monday and vowed to intensify his campaign to topple the government of President Nicolas Maduro.
At the country's main airport, Kriener spoke to journalists and said he hoped the leader of the National Assembly would be safe. There were concerns that the opposition leader might face detention, but Maduro's government did not move against him.
After the expulsion order, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said he had decided to recall Kriener to Berlin for consultations.
"This is an incomprehensible decision that aggravates the situation and does not contribute to de-escalation," Maas said in a statement. "Our, Europe's, support for Juan Guaido is unbroken. Ambassador Kriener is doing excellent work in Caracas, including in recent days."
In a speech at the National Assembly, Guaido condemned the expulsion of the ambassador.
"They're threatening an important European country that is providing humanitarian help to Venezuela," he said.
Guaido also said Maduro had effectively been ignoring him since his return to Venezuela in hopes that his political momentum will fade. On Tuesday, Maduro belittled his opponents as "opportunists and cowards," but did not mention Guaido by name.
The adversaries have announced rival demonstrations on Saturday as they seek to motivate supporters.
A U.S. journalist working in Venezuela, meanwhile, was taken away by security forces from his Caracas apartment early Wednesday, according to witnesses and colleagues. Executives at a Miami TV station said hours later that freelance journalist Cody Weddle, who reported for the station, had been freed and taken to the airport for a flight to the U.S.
The U.S. State Department said earlier that it was deeply concerned about the reported detention of a U.S. journalist. Venezuelan officials did not comment on the case.
Venezuela broke off diplomatic ties with neighboring Colombia after Maduro's security forces blocked a Feb. 23 attempt by Guaido and allies to bring humanitarian aid into Venezuela from Colombia and Brazil. He also broke diplomatic relations with the United States after it recognized Guaido as interim president in late January, initially giving American diplomats 72 hours to leave the country. The Trump administration refused to obey Maduro's order.
The U.S., Germany and some 50 other countries consider Maduro's re-election invalid and have urged him to step aside so the country can prepare for elections. Maduro says he is the target of a U.S.-backed coup plot.
The U.S. is pursuing new diplomatic and economic initiatives to support Guaido's bid for a transitional government in Venezuela, National Security Adviser John Bolton said Wednesday.
"The United States is putting foreign financial institutions on notice that they will face sanctions for being involved in facilitating illegitimate transactions that benefit Nicolas Maduro and his corrupt network," Bolton said in a statement.
The Trump administration has imposed oil sanctions in Venezuela as well as sanctions on high-ranking members of the Venezuelan security forces and other senior officials. The U.S. visas of other Venezuelan officials and their relatives have been revoked.