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The world in brief: Japan launches intelligence satellite

by Compiled by Democrat-Gazette Staff From Wire Reports | January 27, 2023 at 4:04 a.m.
An H2A rocket lifts off from Tanegashima Space Center on Thursday in Kagoshima, southern Japan. (AP/Kyodo News)

Japan launches intelligence satellite

TOKYO -- Japan successfully launched a rocket Thursday carrying a government intelligence-gathering satellite on a mission to watch movements at military sites in North Korea and improve natural disaster response.

The H2A rocket, launched by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., successfully lifted off from the Tanegashima Space Center in southwestern Japan, carrying the IGS-Radar 7 reconnaissance satellite as part of Tokyo's effort to build up its military capability, citing growing threats in East Asia.

The satellite later successfully entered its planned orbit, Mitsubishi Heavy said.

The Intelligence Gathering Satellite can capture images on the ground 24 hours a day and even in severe weather conditions. Japan launched the IGS program after a North Korean missile flyover of Japan in 1988 and aims to set up a network of 10 satellites to spot and provide early warning for possible missile launches. The satellites can be also used for disaster monitoring and response.

"The government will maximize the use of IGS-Radar 7 and other reconnaissance satellites to do the utmost for Japan's national security and crisis management," Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in a statement Thursday as he praised the successful launch.

U.S. troops kill 11 terrorists in Somalia

WASHINGTON -- U.S. special operations forces have killed a senior Islamic State group official and 10 other terrorist operatives in remote northern Somalia, the Biden administration announced Thursday.

The operation carried out on Wednesday targeted Bilal al-Sudani, a key financial facilitator for the global terrorist organization, in a mountainous cave complex.

"This action leaves the United States and its partners safer and more secure, and it reflects our steadfast commitment to protecting Americans from the threat of terrorism at home and abroad," Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement.

President Joe Biden was briefed last week about the proposed mission, which came together after months of planning. He gave final approval to carry out the operation this week, according to two officials who briefed reporters on the operation on the condition of anonymity.

Sudani, who has been on the radar for U.S. intelligence officials for years, played a key role in helping to fund IS operations in Africa as well as the ISIS-K terrorist branch operating in Afghanistan, Austin said.

He had originally been designated a terrorist by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2012 for his role with al-Shabab, another terrorist organization, operating in Somalia.

Berlin stabbing suspect has violent past

BERLIN -- A 33-year-old man arrested on suspicion of fatally stabbing two teenagers and injuring five other passengers on a train in northern Germany had been released from pretrial detention a week ago and had previous criminal convictions, investigating officials said Thursday.

The man, who was identified as Ibrahim A., a stateless Palestinian who came to Germany in 2014, was accused of stabbing multiple people Wednesday afternoon on a regional train traveling from Kiel to Hamburg. A 17-year-old girl and a 19-year-old man died of their wounds, authorities said.

Two victims were still in life-threatening condition and two others were severely injured. One person was slightly injured, police said.

Other passengers overwhelmed the suspect, who was treated at a hospital for slight injuries and is in police custody, local police said at a press conference in Kiel.

Police and prosecutors said that the suspect's criminal record included convictions for another stabbing incident, sexual assault, grievous bodily harm and shoplifting.

Home probed in Spanish church attack

ALGECIRAS, Spain -- Spanish police on Thursday raided the home of a young Moroccan man held over the machete attacks at two Catholic churches the previous night that left a church officer dead and a priest injured in the southern city of Algeciras.

A police investigation directed by a National Court judge considers Wednesday's violence a possible act of terrorism. The suspect is believed to have acted alone.

The suspect is a Moroccan citizen with no prior criminal record "either in Spain or any other country," the interior ministry said. He wasn't "on the radar" of authorities for possible radical activity, Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska added.

Authorities identified him as 25-year-old Yassine Kanjaa, an official with Spain's National Police with direct knowledge of the case told The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity as dictated by police policy.

The ministry said that the suspect had been under a deportation order since June last year because of his unauthorized migrant status in Spain. Authorities of neighboring Gibraltar, which sits across a bay from Algeciras, said that Kanjaa had been arrested in the tiny British territory in August 2019 when he tried to "come ashore from a Jet-Ski without the necessary documentation." He was deported days later.

  photo  People light candles next to a memorial site for a church sacristan who was killed Wednesday in Algeciras, southern Spain on Thursday. (AP/Juan Carlos Toro)

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