AFRICA: Witnesses said heavy gunfire broke out in the Libyan capital of Tripoli after two rival armed groups clashed in the city.
AMERICAS: Brazilian President Rousseff’s supporters took to the streets to fight back at attempts to oust her, as a flurry of court battles raged over her controversial cabinet appointment of predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
ASIA: Rights groups in China condemned the government after a Beijing-based journalist went missing, linking his disappearance to an unusual open letter calling for President Xi Jinping’s resignation.
EUROPE: EU leaders approved a controversial deal with Turkey to curb the huge flow of asylum seekers to Europe, with all migrants arriving in Greece from Sunday to be sent back.
MIDDLE EAST: A top Iraqi commander said national forces launched a broad offensive to retake the city of Hit from the Islamic State group in the western province of Anbar.
TECHNOLOGY: Law enforcement officials believe the San Bernardino massacre and a stabbing attack on a California college campus were done by lone wolves inspired by the Islamic State group, and counterterrorism experts say both show how the organization is expanding its reach through social media.
Turkey: An explosion hit a main shopping street in central Istanbul at 11:00 local time, marking the fifth such attack since JUL15.
Initial reports said five people, including the suicide bomber, were killed and twenty others injured.
The attack took place on Istiklal Caddesi, a pedestrian street usually thronged with shoppers and strollers on the weekend.
The police sealed off part of the street, which adjoins Taksim Square in the European part of the city.
The country is on high alert for further attacks ahead of Kurdish New Year celebrations on Monday.
Observers suggested the bomb may have detonated prematurely, as the street was not yet crowded in the early hours of the day.
No group has yet claimed responsibility, but such attacks have been executed by the PKK, the TAK splinter cell, and the Islamic State group.
Region: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wants the divided Security Council to clarify its stance on the UN dispute with Morocco over Western Sahara. (AFP)
Libya: Witnesses said heavy gunfire broke out in Tripoli after two rival armed groups clashed in the city. (Reuters)
Niger: An opposition coalition said it will boycott a run-off election on Sunday it says is tainted by fraud and called on its supporters not to vote, paving the way for President Mahamadou Issoufou to win a second term. (Reuters)
Republic of the Congo: President Denis Sassou Nguesso urged voters to deliver a “knock-out blow” to opposition candidates in Sunday’s election by giving him an outright majority that would extend his long rule. (Reuters)
Senegal: The country holds a referendum Sunday on sweeping constitutional reforms, including cutting the presidential term from seven to five years. (AFP)
Region: Venezuela’s President Maduro moved to ensure strong relations with his closest regional ally Cuba, two days before a historic visit by his biggest adversary, US President Barack Obama. (AFP)
Brazil: President Rousseff’s supporters took to the streets to fight back at attempts to oust her, as a flurry of court battles raged over her controversial cabinet appointment of predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. (AFP)
Peru: The electoral council said it is considering disqualifying front-runner Keiko Fujimori from next month’s presidential election for improperly distributing cash at a campaign event, just over a week after it tossed her main rival from the race. (AP)
Region: Cambodian defense minister Gen. Tea Banh will fly to Bangkok next week, where he is scheduled to meet with his Thai counterpart Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan to discuss continued cooperation along the border. (Xinhua)
China: Rights groups condemned the government after a Beijing-based journalist went missing, linking his disappearance to an unusual open letter calling for President Xi’s resignation. (AFP)
North Korea: The United Nations Security Council strongly condemned North Korea’s most recent launch of ballistic missiles. (UPI)
Region: EU leaders approved a controversial deal with Turkey to curb the huge flow of asylum seekers to Europe, with all migrants arriving in Greece from Sunday to be sent back. (Washington Post)
Region: Police were preparing to question Salah Abdeslam, the prime suspect in the NOV15 terrorist attacks in Paris, after the 26-year-old was shot in the leg and arrested in a police raid in Brussels, after four months on the run as Europe’s most wanted man. (Guardian)
Region: Turkish President Erdogan accused Europe of “surrendering to terror” for allowing displays of support for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), days after a bombing in Ankara claimed by Kurdish rebels. (AFP)
United Kingdom: PM Cameron will postpone publication of the Iraq war inquiry report until after the European Union referendum, leading to accusations that he is deliberately delaying controversial announcements. (Telegraph)
Egypt: Russia will start shipping President-S airborne optical and electronic defense systems to the country in a few weeks. (Xinhua)
Iraq: A top commander said national forces launched a broad offensive to retake the city of Hit from the Islamic State group in the western province of Anbar.
Iraq: A captive British photojournalist appeared in a new Islamic State group propaganda video purportedly from the IS-held city of Mosul. (AP)
Iraq: According to Turkish Armed Forces, Turkey launched two separate aerial campaigns against outlawed Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) targets for the second consecutive day. (Xinhua)
Syria: Backed by Russian aircraft, regime troops pushed toward the historic central town of Palmyra in an offensive to recapture it from the Islamic State group. (AP)
TECHNOLOGY AND COMMUNICATIONS
Social Media and Terrorism: Law enforcement officials believe the San Bernardino massacre and a stabbing attack on a California college campus were done by lone wolves inspired by the Islamic State group, and counterterrorism experts say both show how the organization is expanding its reach through social media. (AP)
Suspected Cases as of 19MAR: 21,285 (Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Colombia, Costa Rica, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, French Guiana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Montserrat, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sint Maarten, Spain, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, United States, US Virgin Islands, and Venezuela.)
Confirmed Cases: 451
Deaths as of 19MAR: 0 (Colombia, Puerto Rico, Martinique, Grenada, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Jamaica, Dominican Republic)
Cases as of 19MAR: 1690 (Saudi Arabia (KSA), Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the United Kingdom (UK), France, Tunisia, Italy, Oman, Kuwait, Yemen, Malaysia, Greece, Egypt, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Iran, Algeria, Austria, Turkey, The Philippines, Germany, China, South Korea, and the US)
Deaths as of 19MAR: 603 (Saudi Arabia, France, Qatar, United Kingdom, UAE, Oman, South Korea)
Reported autochthonous Transmission as of 19MAR: Brazil, Colombia, Suriname, El Salvador, Paraguay, Mexico, Venezuela, Panama, Cape Verde, Honduras, French Guiana, Martinique, Puerto Rico, Guyana, Barbados, Ecuador, Bolivia, Haiti, Saint Martin, Guadeloupe, Dominican Republic, United States Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Nicaragua, Jamaica, Guatemala, Curacao, Costa Rica, Maldives
Indication of Viral Circulation as of 19MAR: South Africa, China, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Gabon, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Philippines, Malaysia