Diplomats saga

LONDON – The United States said on Monday it would expel 60 Russian diplomats, joining governments across Europe in punishing the Kremlin for a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in Britain that they have blamed on Moscow.

It was the strongest action that US President Donald Trump had taken against Russia since coming to office.

Queue for bread

CAIRO – As some voters in mainland Egypt chanted praise for President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi outside polling stations on their way to re-elect him, residents of the restive northern Sinai Peninsula lined up for a different reason — bread handouts.

A military campaign in North Sinai that aims to crush Islamic State militants has blocked most access to the peninsula as forces carry out air raids.

PM questioned

JERUSALEM – Israeli police questioned Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday over his alleged dealings with the country’s largest telecommunication company — one of three corruption cases weighing on the prime minister’s political future.

It was the second time Netanyahu has been questioned in the investigation into allegations he awarded regulatory favours to Bezeq Telecom Israel in return for favourable coverage.

MoU signing

ABUJA – Nigeria and Switzerland signed a memorandum of understanding on Monday to pave the way for the return of illegally acquired assets.

Switzerland said in December that it would return to Nigeria about $321 million in assets seized from the family of former military ruler Sani Abacha via a deal signed with the World Bank.

Court apperance

JOHANNESBURG – South Africa’s former president Jacob Zuma was due to appear in court on April 6 to face charges of corruption in a year’s-old $2.5 billion arms deal, although he will legally challenge the decision to prosecute him.

The National Prosecuting Authority earlier this month said it would seek to prosecute Zuma on 16 charges, including fraud, racketeering, corruption and money laundering.

Contract killing

BRATISLAVA – The murder of Slovak investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancee last month was likely to have been a contract killing, a prosecutor said on Monday.

Kuciak, 27, was killed with two shots in his chest and Martina Kusnirova, 27, died from being shot in the head last month at their home outside Bratislava.

Shut factories

SHANGHAI – China’s environment ministry has urged 28 northern cities to shut factories to tackle a bout of heavy smog in the region, a sign that tough winter curbs could be extended for the rest of the year.

The Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) said on Sunday that it had told cities to take emergency action to tackle this week’s smog and to strengthen supervision.

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