Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, warned India not to attack his country in retaliation for a suicide-bombing in Kashmir that killed 40 Indian security personnel, the worst attack on security forces in the region in 30 years of conflict. A militant group based in Pakistan said it was responsible. As tensions mounted between the two arch-rivals, a gun battle between police and suspected militants killed nine people in a village in Kashmir. See article.
Amid the hostilities Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and de facto leader, Muhammad bin Salman, visited Pakistan and India, where he promised large investment deals. The Saudi foreign minister offered to help ease tensions between the two neighbours, underscoring the Saudis’ new-found confidence on the world stage. See article.
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A fire broke out in the Chawkbazar district of Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital, killing scores of people. Poor safety regulations have led to hundreds of people being killed in building fires in recent years.
Fang Fenghui, a former chief of the joint staff in China’s army, was found guilty of corruption and sentenced to life in prison. Mr Fang had been allied with Zhang Yang, who served on China’s military commission before his arrest for corruption and subsequent suicide in 2017. President Xi Jinping has undertaken an unprecedented crackdown on graft, which some believe to be a cover for a purge of his opponents.
Security: Polling errors
Nigeria delayed its presidential election by a week after officials said they had not managed to distribute ballot papers and other voting materials in time for the scheduled date of February 16th. The delay is expected to reduce voter turnout, as many people had to travel to their home districts in order to cast their ballots. See article.
South Africa’s government pledged 69bn rand ($4.9bn) to prop up Eskom, a state-owned power utility that is close to bankruptcy. Power cuts caused by poor maintenance have slowed economic growth. See article.
Hundreds of civilians were evacuated from the last enclave held by Islamic State in eastern Syria. Kurdish-led forces backed by America have pushed the jihadists to the brink of defeat. A Kurdish commander urged Donald Trump to halt his plans to pull American soldiers out of Syria and called for up to 1,500 international troops to remain.
Poland withdrew from a central European summit in Jerusalem after a dispute with Israel over how to characterise Poland’s treatment of its Jewish community during the second world war. Israel’s acting foreign minister said Poles “suckle anti-Semitism with their mother’s milk”.
Security: Independents’ day
In Britain, eight Labour MPs quit the party over Jeremy Corbyn’s poor leadership, which has led to dithering over Brexit and failed to clamp down on a surge in anti-Semitism among party activists. The eight back a second referendum on Britain leaving the EU. Rather than form a new party they will for now sit in the House of Commons as the Independent Group. They called on centrist MPs from any party to join them. Three Conservative MPs duly did so. See article.
Demonstrations were held across France to protest against the rise in attacks against Jewish people and symbols, which were up by 74% last year. This week 80 Jewish graves were daubed with swastikas, and Alain Finkielkraut, a prominent philosopher, was heckled with anti-Semitic abuse by gilets jaunes (yellow vest) protesters. See article.
Pedro Sánchez, the prime minister of Spain, called a snap general election for April 28th. Mr Sánchez’s socialist-led coalition had suffered a heavy defeat in parliament when parties from Catalonia that normally support the government joined conservatives in voting down the budget. The Catalans had tried to force Mr Sánchez into discussing independence for t