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Suspected Thai cyanide serial killer charged with 14 counts of murder



(Last Updated On: May 4, 2023)

A Thai woman accused of a spate of poisonings has been charged with 14 counts of murder, police said Wednesday, in one of the kingdom’s worst suspected serial killing cases.

Sararat Rangsiwuthaporn is alleged to have swindled thousands of dollars out of her victims before poisoning them with cyanide.

She was arrested last week over nine suspicious deaths that took place over several years, but the police swiftly widened their probe, AFP reported.

Her husband, a high-ranking policeman, is also facing fraud and embezzlement charges related to the murders, deputy national police chief Surachate Hakparn said Wednesday.

Surachate said Sararat lured 15 people — one of whom survived — to take poisoned “herb capsules”.

“She asked people she knows for money because she has a lot of credit card debt… and if they asked her for their money back she started killing them,“ Surachate told reporters.

“We are investigating the amount of money that she got from victims.”

Last week, he indicated the sums involved in each case ran into hundreds of thousands of baht — the equivalent of thousands of US dollars.

Both Sararat and her husband deny the allegations against them.

Sararat — who is four months pregnant — is facing 14 charges of premeditated murder and one of attempted murder, but police are investigating up to three other potentially linked cases.

Last week, officers expanded the geographic area they were investigating to five provinces, most to the west of Bangkok.

Police initially suspected the woman of murdering a friend in Ratchaburi province, west of Bangkok, in mid-April.

Local media said the victim collapsed on the bank of the Mae Klong River after releasing fish as part of a Buddhist ritual.

After questioning the suspect, investigators linked her to other cyanide poisoning cases.


Four Palestinians including 8-year-old killed by Israeli forces in West Bank



(Last Updated On: November 30, 2023)

Four Palestinians, including an 8-year-old boy and a 15-year-old male as well as two senior militant commanders, were killed on Wednesday by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin, Reuters quoted Palestinian official news agency WAFA said.

“The two children, Adam Samer Al-Ghoul (8 years old) and Basil Suleiman Abu Al-Wafa (15 years old), were shot dead by occupation forces in the city of Jenin,” the Palestinian health ministry said.

The Islamist movement Hamas claimed Al-Wafa as a member.

Unverified video circulating on social media appeared to show the 8-year-old being hit but the footage did not show who fired the shot.

Asked to comment on the footage, the Israeli military said: “Earlier today, during IDF activity in the Jenin Camp, a number of suspects hurled explosive devices toward IDF soldiers. The soldiers responded with live fire toward the suspects and hits were identified.”

The raid into the Jenin camp, one of the most active centres of militant activity in the West Bank which was heavily damaged by a major Israeli operation in July, left piles of smashed rubble and damaged houses, read the report.

WAFA said Palestinians Muhammad Jamal Zubaidi and Wissam Ziad Hanoun from Jenin camp were killed by Israeli forces, adding that “the occupation forces took their bodies”.

The Israeli army said in a statement Zubeidi and Hanoun were killed during “counterterrorism activity conducted in the Jenin Camp” jointly by the military, national security agency and border police.

Zubeidi was a senior Islamic Jihad operative and one of the central leaders in the Jenin Camp, the army said.

The Israeli military said he had been involved in extensive militant activity and carried out shooting attacks and promoted other attacks.

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US military aircraft crashes in sea off Japan, condition of crew unknown



(Last Updated On: November 29, 2023)

A U.S. military aircraft with eight people onboard crashed into the sea in western Japan on Wednesday with fishermen reporting three people had been found but that their condition was unknown.

The coast guard said it had sent patrol boats and aircraft to the area where the tilt-rotor V-22 Osprey crashed off the island of Yakushima.

Fishing boats in the area found three people in the surrounding waters, a representative of a local fisheries cooperative said.

The crash occurred near the island’s airport, where another Osprey successfully landed on Wednesday afternoon, a spokesperson for the prefectural government said.

U.S. forces in the region were still gathering information, a spokesperson said.

The crash happened just before 3 pm Japan time with witnesses saying the aircraft’s left engine appeared to be on fire as it descended, media reported.

The aircraft disappeared from radar at 2.40 pm local time, Japan Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said.

The plane, which can fly both like a helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft, is operated by the U.S. Marines, U.S. Navy and the Japan Self Defense Forces.

The deployment of the Osprey in Japan has been controversial, with critics saying it is prone to accidents. The U.S. military and Japan say it is safe.

In August, a U.S. Osprey crashed off the coast of northern Australia while transporting troops during a routine military exercise, killing three U.S. Marines.

Another crash-landed in the ocean off Japan’s southern island of Okinawa in December 2016, prompting a temporary U.S. military grounding of the aircraft.


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More Israeli hostages expected to be freed after Gaza truce extended



(Last Updated On: November 28, 2023)

An Israel-Hamas truce in the Gaza Strip stretched into a fifth day on Tuesday as the two sides completed the release of Israeli hostages and detained Palestinians and looked poised to free more as the pause in fighting was extended by two days.

Hamas took about 240 hostages during an Oct. 7 incursion into southern Israel that killed 1,200 people, according to Israeli figures, prompting Israel to retaliate by bombing the coastal enclave and launching a ground offensive in its north, Reuters reported.

Israel said 11 Israelis had returned to the country from the Gaza Strip on Monday, bringing to 69 the total of Israeli and foreign hostages the Palestinian group has freed since Friday under the truce.

The White House and Qatari negotiators said on Monday the original four day pause in fighting, due to expire at 0500 GMT on Tuesday, had been extended for two more days.

Israel has not commented on any agreement to extend the truce but, in what may be an implicit confirmation, the Israeli prime minister’s office said the government approved the addition of 50 female prisoners to its list of Palestinians for potential release if additional Israeli hostages are freed.

Hamas said it had sought to revise terms under which it would free hostages beyond the women and children it has already released.

“We hope the Occupation (Israel) abides (by the agreement) in the next two days because we are seeking a new agreement, besides women and children, whereby other categories that we have that we can swap,” Hamas official Khalil Al-Hayya told Al Jazeera late on Monday.

That, he said, would entail “going towards an additional time period to continue swapping people at this stage”.

Among hostages Hamas still holds are fathers and husbands of those it has freed in recent days.

Israel previously said it would extend the truce by one day for every 10 more hostages released, providing some respite from the war.

Israel’s government has received a list of hostages who are expected to be released on Tuesday, Israel’s Army Radio reported, citing the Israeli prime minister’s office.

The Axios news website reported the list contained 10 hostages. There was no immediate comment from the prime minister’s office.

Israel Prison Service said 33 Palestinian prisoners were released on Monday from Israel’s Ofer prison in the occupied West Bank and from a detention center in Jerusalem, bringing the total number of Palestinians it has freed since Friday to 150.

Israeli forces clashed with some of the dozens of Palestinians who gathered outside Ofer prison to await the prisoner release, the Palestinian health ministry said.

Some of the protesters waved the flags of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, another Palestinian militant group.

The ministry said a Palestinian was killed in the area, and that it was unclear if he had participated in the clashes. Palestinian media reported he was shot dead. Israel had no immediate comment on the incident.

In response to the Oct. 7 attack, Israel has bombarded the Gaza Strip and mounted a ground offensive in the north. More than 15,000 Palestinians have been killed, Gaza’s Hamas-run government says, and hundreds of thousands displaced.

Each day since the truce began on Friday, Hamas has released some hostages while Israel has freed some Palestinians it holds. Of the 69 hostages freed by Hamas were 51 Israelis and 18 foreigners.

Ido Dan, a relative of Israelis Sahar Calderon, 16, and Erez Calderon, 12, spoke of the joy at their release on Monday mixed with anxiety about their father, Ofer, who is still being held.

“It is difficult to go from a state of endless anxiety about their fate to a state of relief and joy,” Dan said. “This is an exciting and heart-filling moment but … it is the beginning of a difficult rehabilitation process for Sahar and Erez, who are still young and have been through an unbearable experience.”

The U.S. State Department said U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken would visit Israel, the West Bank and the United Arab Emirates this week to discuss sustaining aid flows to Gaza and freeing all hostages as well as U.S. principles for the future of Gaza and the need for an independent Palestinian state.

The original truce agreement allowed more aid trucks into Gaza, where the civilian population faces shortages of food, fuel, drinking water and medicine. An estimated 1.8 million of the territory’s 2.3 million population are internally displaced, according to the United Nations.

While describing the extension as “a glimpse of hope and humanity,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said two more days was not enough time to meet Gaza’s aid needs.

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