8 things you need to know right now

1 Suspect released

As the number of victims in the Brussels suicide attacks rose to 35, Belgian police released a video of a mysterious man in a dark hat seen in the company of the bombers who attacked Brussels Airport, indicating that he is still at large. "Police are seeking to identify this man," the Belgian Federal Police's website said. The video's release came as a Belgian magistrate also ruled that a man identified as Faycal C., who was arrested during the police raids that followed the March 22 attacks, could be released. Faycal C. was among those taken into custody and facing preliminary terror charges. Belgian media had claimed the man was the mysterious suspect in the white jacket and dark hat spotted with the two bombers at the airport the morning of the attacks. But the Belgian magistrate ruled that new evidence uncovered by investigators revealed there were no grounds to keep Faycal C. in custody.

2 Fidel's swipe

Fidel Castro responded to US President Barack Obama's historic trip to Cuba with a long, bristling letter recounting the history of US aggression against Cuba, writing that "we don't need the empire to give us any presents".

The 1500-word letter in state media titled "Brother Obama" was Castro's first response to the President's three-day visit last week, in which the American president said he had come to bury the two countries' history of Cold War hostility. Obama did not meet the 89-year-old Fidel Castro on the trip but met his 84-year-old brother Raul Castro, the current Cuban President. Fidel Castro writes of Obama: "My modest suggestion is that he reflects and doesn't try to develop theories about Cuban politics". Castro, who led Cuba for decades before handing power to his brother in 2008.

3 Japan sticks to no to nukes

Japan's Government said that it will stick to its policy of not possessing nuclear weapons, after US presidential hopeful Donald Trump said he would be open to the idea of Japan and South Korea having their own atomic arsenals. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters that the country's "three principles" of not owning, making or allowing nuclear weapons "remain an important basic policy of the Government". South Korean Defence Ministry spokesman Moon Sang Gyun said he had no comment on Trump's remarks. He said South Korea believes that its alliance with the US remains strong.

4 Punjab crackdown

Pakistan will launch a paramilitary crackdown on Islamist militants in Punjab, the country's richest and most populous province, after the Easter bombing killed 70 people in the provincial capital Lahore. The suicide bombing on a public park was claimed by the Pakistani Taliban's Jamaat-ur-Ahrar faction, which once declared loyalty to Isis (Islamic State). The group said it was targeting Christians. The brutality of the attack, Jamaat-ur-Ahrar's fifth bombing since December, reflects the movement's attempts to raise its profile among Pakistan's increasingly fractured Islamist militants. At least 29 children enjoying an Easter weekend outing were among those killed. Majority-Muslim Pakistan has a Christian population of more than two million.

5 Palmyra damage

The recapture of Syria's ancient city of Palmyra from Isis has brought new revelations of the destruction wreaked by the extremists. Experts say they need time to assess the full extent of damage in Palmyra, a Unesco world heritage site boasting 2000-year-old Roman-era colonnades and other ruins, which once attracted tens of thousands of tourists every year. Syrian troops drove Isis out late on Sunday NZT, some 10 months after the militants seized the town. The world knew the militants destroyed the Temple of Bel and the Arch of Triumph. A Syrian TV reporter found shattered statues. Some of the damage may have been caused by shelling, which would have knocked the statues from their stands. Footage from inside the museum shows a hole in the ceiling, most likely from an artillery shell. Before Palmyra fell to Isis, authorities relocated more than 400 statues and hundreds of artefacts to safe areas, but larger statues couldn't be moved, according to the head of antiquities and museums, Maamoun Abdul-Karim. He told the AP that about 20 statues were defaced and others had their heads chopped off.

6 General arrested

Colombia has arrested an army general for his role a decade ago in the extrajudicial killing of civilians presented as guerrillas killed in combat, the highest-ranking military officer to ever be detained for such crimes. General Henry Torres, who currently holds an administrative position in the armed forces, turned himself in as soon as the arrest order on charges of homicide against him was issued. The chief prosecutor's office also announced it would seek the detention of retired General Mario Montoya, a close ally of former President Alvaro Uribe who headed the army when the so-called "false positives" scandal broke in 2008. The revelation that security forces killed thousands of civilians to inflate body counts on which bonuses and vacations were based tarnished the US-backed military but so far has led to only a handful of charges against high-ranking officers.

7 Swim to cruise boat

A 65-year-old British woman told police in Portugal's Madeira Islands she tried to swim out to her passing cruise ship in the mistaken belief that her husband was on board before being rescued by fishermen after four hours in the sea. Susan Brown told maritime police that she and her husband had decided to fly home early from their cruise aboard the Marco Polo which had stopped over that day in Madeira, Felix Marques, harbour captain at Madeira's Funchal port, said. However, Marques said Brown told police she later lost sight of her husband at Funchal airport after they argued and was "feeling desperate". She said she had tried to swim out to the ship from an area by the seaside airport when she saw it sailing out of Funchal in the evening, thinking that her husband might have been on board, according to Marques. Police have since ascertained that her husband boarded a flight to Bristol, England. She was taken to hospital with advanced hypothermia and was later moved to a psychiatric ward, Marques said. Police intend to interview her a second time.

8 Beyonce and Bunny

Rain clouds auspiciously parted, A-list guests including the Easter Bunny and Beyonce were on hand and first dogs Sunny and Bo obliged for selfies as US President Barack Obama celebrated his final Easter egg roll at the White House. Obama and first lady Michelle Obama hosted 35,000 guests on the South Lawn for the 138th annual event, which Obama said was one of his favourite fixtures on the calendar. "You guys brought the sun out, so we appreciate that so much," Obama joked to attendees as showers were replaced by sun. Standing on the White House balcony, the President and first lady welcomed the crowd before heading down to the lawn for games, reading, and sports. This year's guest list included singer Idina Menzel, who performed the national anthem, singer Beyonce, her husband Jay-Z and 4-year-old daughter Blue Ivy and retired National Basketball Association player Shaquille O'Neal.

Source: nzherald

Related posts