Top Asian News 3:00 a.m. GMT
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday announced he was retiring from politics and dropping plans to run for vice president in elections next year, when his term ends, paving the way for his politician daughter to make a possible bid for the top post. Speaking before reporters, Duterte said many Filipinos have expressed their opposition to his vice-presidential bid in surveys and public forums. “The overwhelming sentiment of the Filipino is that I’m not qualified, and it would be a violation of the constitution,” Duterte said. “I will follow what you wish, and today I announce my retirement from politics.” The 76-year-old leader, known for his deadly anti-drugs crackdown, brash rhetoric and unorthodox political style, earlier accepted the ruling party’s nomination for him to seek the vice presidency in the May 9 elections.
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — China flew more than 30 military planes toward Taiwan on Saturday, the second large display of force in as many days. Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said 39 aircraft entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone in two sorties, one during the day and one at night. That followed a similar pattern on Friday, when 38 planes flew into the area south of the self-governing island. China claims Taiwan, which lies off its east coast, as its territory. The two split in 1949 during a civil war in which the Communists took control of mainland China and the rival Nationalists set up a government on Taiwan.
BEIJING (AP) — A former Chinese justice minister has become a target of President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign. Fu Zhenghua, who was also a former vice minister of public security, is under investigation for severe violations of party discipline and law, the ruling Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said Saturday. It did not provide any details in a one-sentence statement posted online. It’s unclear why Fu, 66, would become a target of the campaign. He was the longtime head of public security for Beijing and vice minister of public security from 2013 to 2018. He then served as justice minister from 2018 to 2020.
ISLAMABAD (AP) — The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for killing a member of Pakistan’s minority Sikh community earlier in the week in the northwestern city of Peshawar. An IS statement issued late Friday described Satnam Singh, 45, as “polytheist” and said he was shot dead by IS members. Pakistani officials have denied any organized IS presence in the country but the extremist group has claimed a number of attacks on security forces, mosques, political rallies and religious minorities in recent years. Police said Singh was gunned down Thursday in Peshawar, the provincial capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistani Taliban targeted security forces in a vehicle travelling near the Afghan border on Saturday, killing four soldiers and one policeman, the military said Saturday. In a statement, they said the attack took place in the Spinwam area of North Waziristan, and that an operation was underway to strike back against the militants. Pakistani Taliban, known as TTP or Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, operate in the tribal belt bordering Afghanistan. The group claimed responsibility in a statement, saying it had ambushed a “raiding party” in the area on Friday. The military did not specify when the attack took place.
BERLIN (AP) — A joint European-Japanese spacecraft got its first glimpse of Mercury as it swung by the solar system’s innermost planet while on a mission to deliver two probes into orbit in 2025. The BepiColombo mission made the first of six flybys of Mercury at 11:34 p.m. GMT (7:34 p.m. EST) Friday, using the planet’s gravity to slow the spacecraft down. After swooping past Mercury at altitudes of under 200 kilometers (125 miles), the spacecraft took a low resolution black-and-white photo with one of its monitoring cameras before zipping off again. The European Space Agency said the captured image shows the Northern Hemisphere and Mercury’s characteristic pock-marked features, among them the 166-kilometer-wide (103-mile-wide) Lermontov crater.
KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — One of Pakistan’s most beloved comedians, Umar Sharif, passed away in Germany on the way to the United States for treatment on Saturday, his son said. He was 66. Sharif, known for his satire, stand-up and live performances, was suffering from heart and kidney illness, Jawad Umar told The Associated Press. Doctors had advised him to travel to the U.S. for treatment, and he was headed to Virginia when his condition deteriorated on the plane. The flight diverted to Germany on Tuesday and he was treated in a Nuremburg hospital. He died briefly before a planned departure Saturday, his son said.
JALALABAD, Afghanistan (AP) — Gunmen shot and killed two Taliban fighters and two civilians on Saturday in the eastern city of Jalalabad, a Taliban official said. Two other civilians were wounded in the attack, said Mohammad Hanif, a cultural official for the city’s surrounding province, Nangarhar. No one claimed responsibility for the shooting, but the Islamic State group, which has a strong presence in Nangarhar and considers the Taliban an enemy, has previously claimed several attacks against them, including several killings in Jalalabad. The two civilians killed were Sayed Maroof Sadat, a former spokesman for the Nangarhar department of agriculture, and his cousin, Sharif Sadat told the AP.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea said Friday it test-fired a new anti-aircraft missile, its fourth weapons launch in recent weeks, which experts say is part of a strategy to receive relief from economic sanctions and win other concessions. South Korea, Japan and the United States typically publicly confirm North Korean ballistic missile launches, which are banned by U.N. resolutions, soon after they occur. But they did not do so for Thursday’s launch, indicating the weapon tested may have been a different kind. Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said Friday that South Korean and U.S. intelligence authorities monitored moves by North Korea but didn’t elaborate.