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Taiwan urges China to narrow air space closure plan

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Beijing notified Taipei it would impose a no-fly zone from for three days from April 16-18, but Taiwan said this was later reduced after protests

 
Taiwan says it had successfully urged China to drastically narrow its plan to close air space north of the island.

Thereby averting wider travel disruption in a period of high tension in the region due to China’s military exercises.

China has not commented on the no-fly zone.

But South Korea, which was briefed on the plans, said the decision was taken due to an object falling from a satellite launch vehicle.

Beijing initially notified Taipei it would impose a no-fly zone from for three days from April 16-18, but Taiwan said this was later reduced to a period of just 27 minutes on Sunday morning after it protested.

The development follows days of intense military drills that China has staged around Taiwan in response to President Tsai Ing-wen’s meeting with U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California last week.

It was against this backdrop that word of the air space closure stoked fears of travel disruption across the region.

When China imposed air space restrictions during military drills last August, there were significant disruptions to flights in the region.

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Iran launches retaliatory attack on Israel with hundreds of drones

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Iran launched a swarm of explosive drones and fired missiles at Israel late on Saturday in its first ever direct attack on Israeli territory, risking a major escalation as the United States pledged “ironclad” backing for Israel.

Sirens wailed and Reuters journalists in Israel said they heard distant heavy thuds and bangs from what local media called aerial interceptions of explosive drones. Authorities said a 7-year-old girl was critically injured.

Israel’s military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said Iran launched dozens of ground-to-ground missiles at Israel, most of which were intercepted outside Israeli borders. They included more than 10 cruise missiles, he said.

The Iranian salvo amounted to more than 200 drones and missiles so far, Hagari said, and had caused light damage to one Israeli military facility.

Read More – Iran launches drone attack against Israel

The Israeli military said later that it was not advising any residents to prepare to take shelter, revising an earlier alert in what appeared to signal the end of the threat.

Significant response

Israel’s Channel 12 TV cited an unnamed Israeli official as saying there would be a “significant response” to the attack.

Iran has vowed retaliation for what it called an Israeli strike on its Damascus consulate on April crimes”. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied responsibility for the consulate attack.

“Should the Israeli regime make another mistake, Iran’s response will be considerably more severe,” the Iranian mission to the United Nations said, warning the 1 that killed seven Guards officers including two senior commanders and said its strike was a punishment for “Israeli U.S. to “stay away”. However, it also said Iran now “deemed the matter concluded”.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned Iran’s attack, and said he was “deeply alarmed about the very real danger of a devastating region-wide escalation.”
U.S. President Joe Biden, who on Friday had warned Iran against an attack, cut short a visit to his home state of Delaware to meet national security advisers in the White House Situation Room. He pledged to stand with Israel.

“Our commitment to Israel’s security against threats from Iran and its proxies is ironclad,” he said on X after the meeting.

British maritime security company Ambrey said in a statement that drones were also reportedly launched against Israel by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group.

Those clashes now threaten to morph into a direct open conflict pitting Iran and its regional allies against Israel and its main supporter the United States, with regional power Egypt urging “utmost restraint”.

While Israel and Iran have been bitter foes for decades, their long feud has mostly unfolded via proxies or by targeting each other’s forces operating in third countries.

U.S. and British warplanes were involved in shooting down some Israel-bound drones over the Iraq-Syria border area, Channel 12 reported. Two U.S. officials said the U.S. military had shot down dozens of drone aircraft headed to Israel.

Major escalation

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose official jet took off shortly after the attack began, convened the war cabinet at a military headquarters in Tel Aviv, his office said.

Israel and Lebanon said they were closing their airspace on Saturday night. Jordan, which lies between Iran and Israel, had readied air defences to intercept any drone or missile that violated its territory, two regional security sources said.

Residents in several Jordanian cities said they heard heavy aerial activity.

Syria, an ally of Iran, said it was putting its ground-to-air defence systems around the capital and major bases on high alert, army sources there said.

The European Union, Britain, France, Mexico, Czechia, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands all condemned Iran’s attack.

Israel has been bracing for an Iranian response to the Damascus consulate strike since last week, when Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Israel “must be punished and shall be” for an operation he called equivalent to one on Iranian soil.

Biden said on Friday that his only message to Iran was “Don’t”, but added that “we are devoted to the defense of Israel.”

Iran’s main ally in the region, the Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah that has been exchanging fire with Israel since the Gaza war began on Oct. 7, said early on Sunday it had fired rockets at an Israeli base.

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Iran launches drone attack against Israel

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Iran launched dozens of drones at Israel but they will take hours to reach their targets,

Israel’s military said, an attack that may trigger a major escalation between the regional archenemies, with the U.S. pledging to back Israel.

Two security sources in Iraq said dozens of drones had been spotted flying from Iran toward Israel over Iraqi airspace in what Iranian Press TV called “extensive drone strikes” by the Revolutionary Guards.

Iran has vowed retaliation for what it called an Israeli strike on its Damascus consulate on April 1 that killed seven Revolutionary Guards officers including two senior commanders. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied responsibility for the attack.

U.S. President Joe Biden, who on Friday warned Iran against attacking Israel after saying such a scenario appeared imminent, has pledged to stand with Israel against Iran, the White House said.

Iranian drones

A retired Israeli general, Amos Yadlin, told the country’s Channel 12 news that the Iranian drones were equipped with 20 kg (44 pounds) of explosives each.

Israel’s military said sirens would sound in any threatened areas and that its defences were poised to deal with them.

Earlier on Saturday, Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency reported that a Guards helicopter had boarded and taken into Iranian waters the Portuguese-flagged MSC Aries.

MSC, which operates the Aries, confirmed that Iran had seized the ship and said it was working “with the relevant authorities” for its safe return and the wellbeing of its 25 crew.

MSC leases the Aries from Gortal Shipping, an affiliate of Zodiac Maritime, Zodiac said in a statement, adding that MSC is responsible for all the vessel’s activities. Zodiac is partly owned by Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz accused Iran of piracy.

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Six dead in Sydney shopping centre stabbing

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Six people have lost their lives in a horrific attack at Westfield in Sydney’s Bondi Junction.

The incident, which unfolded at approximately 3:20 pm on Saturday afternoon, saw a man in an NRL jersey randomly stabbing shoppers, leaving many more injured.

The chaos and panic that ensued as families ran for their lives were captured in the harrowing scenes.

Hero mother

Amidst the terror, a heroic mother, who fought to save her nine-month-old baby’s life, tragically succumbed to her injuries in the hospital.

Witnesses described the assailant as a man in his 30s, wearing an Australian Rugby League team jersey, wielding a 15cm-long knife.

His indiscriminate attacks left a trail of devastation, with five people confirmed dead at the scene.

The sixth victim, the mother of the nine-month-old baby, battled to save her child despite her own injuries, ultimately succumbing to them later.

The situation could have been even more catastrophic if not for the courageous actions of a senior female police officer, who bravely confronted the attacker alone and ultimately brought him down with a single shot to the chest.

Witnesses recounted stories of bravery and resilience, with some throwing tables and chairs at the assailant and others engaging in physical confrontations with improvised weapons like bollards.

As emergency services worked tirelessly to save lives, the scene inside the mall was one of horror and desperation, with blood splattered across multiple stores.

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