Following is a summary of current world news briefs.
Iran condemns U.S. jet fly-by of airliner as terrorism by ‘outlaws’
Iran said on Friday a U.S. fighter jet “harassed” an Iranian civilian airliner in an act of terrorism that injured and panicked passengers, dismissing a U.S. account that the jet was merely conducting a visual inspection. State TV video footage of the inside of the Iranian airliner shows a passenger lying immobile of the floor and another with a wounded nose and forehead, presenting his bloodied face mask to the camera.
New wave of boat migrants overwhelms southern Italian island
About 100 migrants who crossed the Mediterranean in small boats landed on the southern island of Lampedusa during the night, the latest in a wave of arrivals straining an already overcrowded holding center. Officials said the migrants, arriving from Libya, were either rescued at sea or managed to avoid detection and reach the island.
Thai youths burn image of PM as resignation calls grow
Young Thai political activists set fire to pictures of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha outside government house on Friday and called for his resignation, as pressure builds on the generals who orchestrated a 2014 coup to leave the office. In the past week, there have been small protests seeking to drive him from office in at least six provinces, while internal party squabbles have led to six cabinet members resigning.
China orders U.S. to shut Chengdu consulate, retaliating for Houston
China ordered the United States to close its consulate in the city of Chengdu on Friday, responding to a U.S. demand this week that China closes its Houston consulate, as relations between the world’s two largest economies deteriorate. The order to close the consulate in Chengdu, in southwestern China’s Sichuan province, was seen as roughly reciprocal in terms of scale and impact, continuing China’s recent practice of like-for-like responses to U.S. actions.
On trial on riot charges, Hong Kong newlyweds prepared for life apart
For Valentine’s Day this year, Henry Tong gave his wife, Elaine To, a photo book. It holds the memories of their life together: their first date six years ago, kissing in front of a pro-democracy “Lennon wall”; the tattooed bands on their ring fingers, symbolizing a bond not easily erased; and their wedding day last year, when he vowed to her, “Not even a nuclear explosion could break us apart.” The book doesn’t mention the 50 hours that Henry and Elaine spent in jail in July last year, just four days before their wedding. Arrested at a pro-democracy protest, the couple were kept in different cells at the police station, separated by a long corridor and a large wall.
Erdogan joins thousands to pray for first time at Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia
Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan joined thousands of worshippers at Hagia Sophia on Friday for the first prayers there since he declared the monument, revered by Christians and Muslims for almost 1,500 years, a mosque once again. Erdogan and his top ministers, wearing white facemasks as a precaution against COVID-19, knelt on blue carpets at the start of a ceremony which marks the return of Muslim worship to the ancient structure.
England’s shoppers ordered to wear face coverings
Shoppers in England were ordered to wear face coverings for the first time on Friday as new rules came into force, albeit with the government relying on customers’ common sense to stick to the policy rather than active policing. The requirement, announced on July 13, marks the latest step in Britain’s slow acceptance of the benefits of face coverings in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Journalists of Hungarian news website quit en masse, allege government meddling
Three editors of Hungary’s leading independent news website Index.hu and around 60 journalists resigned on Friday over the ousting of their editor-in-chief, which they said was an “open attempt to exert pressure” on Index. The journalists, representing about two-thirds of the newsroom, said in a statement on Index they decided to quit after the chairman of the board rejected their request to restore Szabolcs Dull to his position.
Bulgarian PM and EU summit delegates test negative for coronavirus
Second coronavirus tests of Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and his political team who attended an EU summit this week came out negative, the government said on Friday after earlier tests showed positive for one member of the delegation. Borissov went into quarantine after the head of his political office, Denitsa Zheleva, tested positive for coronavirus late on Thursday, the government press office said in an earlier statement.
Putin says Armenian-Azeri border clashes sensitive issue for Russia: RIA
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that ongoing border clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia were a highly sensitive matter for Russia, the RIA news agency reported. More than a dozen Armenian and Azeri soldiers have been killed in recent days in clashes between the two former Soviet republics, which have long been at odds over Azerbaijan’s breakaway, mainly ethnic Armenian region of Nagorno-Karabakh.