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World News Roundup: Iranian hackers targeted Western universities; Philippines to lift Taiwan travel ban and more

World News Roundup: Iranian hackers targeted Western universities; Philippines to lift Taiwan travel ban and more
Representative image Image Credit: Pixabay

Following is a summary of current world news briefs.

Iranian hackers targeted Western universities: report

Government-backed Iranian hackers have targeted universities in Europe, the United States, and Australia in recent months, consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers has found, Dutch broadcaster NOS reported on Friday. It is unclear whether the attempts to break into computer systems, including those of three Dutch universities, were successful.

Taliban, Afghan forces clash despite talk of a breakthrough in the peace deal

Afghan government forces and Taliban insurgents waged war against each other in the past 24 hours despite U.S. officials saying there had been a breakthrough in recent days in peace talks to end the 18-year-old conflict. While negotiators from the warring sides pressed on with meetings in Doha, Qatar, the Taliban, and the Afghan government both reported fighting on the ground.

Syrian government helicopter downed in Idlib: Turkish state media

A Syrian government helicopter was downed in a rural area west of Aleppo in Syria's Idlib region, where violence and displacement have spiked in recent weeks, Turkish state-owned Anadolu news agency said on Friday. Turkey's military has sent additional arms and troops to Idlib, on its southern border, to confront a push by Syrian government forces to retake the country's last major rebel stronghold after nearly nine years of war.

Leader of Merkel's conservatives to propose a successor on February 24: report

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer will suggest a successor for her role as leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) on Feb. 24, German magazine Focus said on its website. Focus cited Michael Kretschmer, the CDU premier of the eastern state of Saxony as saying: "She'll make a proposal to us on February 24". Asked if it would be a specific proposal, he said: "Yes".

The Philippines to lift Taiwan travel ban imposed over coronavirus

The Philippines has lifted a travel ban that was imposed on visitors from Taiwan in a bid to control the spread of the coronavirus, and will evaluate other restrictions including those on Macau, government officials said on Friday. The decision followed a warning by Taiwan, which has only reported 18 cases of the virus compared to more than 63,000 in China, of possible retaliation against the ban.

Coronavirus inflicts growing toll on China's health workers

A new coronavirus has taken a growing toll of Chinese health workers on the front line of the fight to stop it, a top official said on Friday, as authorities reported more than 5,000 new cases, including more than 120 deaths. Policymakers pledged to do more to stimulate economies hit by the virus, helping Asian stock markets edged higher, with Chinese shares headed for their first weekly gain in four.

Dying a desperate death: A Wuhan family's coronavirus ordeal

There were no doctors, nurses or medical equipment at the Wuhan hotel converted into a temporary quarantine facility for suspected coronavirus patients when brothers Wang Xiangkai and Wang Xiangyou arrived two weeks ago. The next day, Xiangkai, 61, woke to find that Xiangyou, 62, had died.

China's Xi says to fix problems exposed during coronavirus outbreak: state TV

Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Friday the ruling Communist Party must fix various problems, loopholes and weaknesses exposed during the current outbreak of the coronavirus, state television reported on Friday. "To ensure people's life safety and health is a major task of our party's governance," Xi was quoted as saying at a meeting of a committee on deepening reforms. He also said Beijing would move to improve medical insurance and treatment systems for major diseases.

Trump to woo Indian executives during New Delhi visit

U.S. President Donald Trump will meet executives of large Indian companies with interests in the United States as he looks to drum up investments during his visit to New Delhi this month. Executives of some of the companies expected to attend the meeting include Indian oil & gas company Reliance Industries, diversified group Tata Sons and auto sector companies such as Bharat Forge, Mahindra and Mahindra, and Motherson, industry and business sources told Reuters.

Turkish court acquits novelist accused of Kurdish militant ties

An Istanbul court acquitted novelist Asli Erdogan on Friday of charges of terrorist group membership, in one of a series cases which have fueled concern among European Union states and rights groups about a deterioration in media freedom in Turkey. Erdogan, who is now living in self-imposed exile in Europe, was one of some two dozen staff from the pro-Kurdish Ozgur Gundem newspaper who were detained in 2016 as part of an investigation into their alleged links to Kurdish militants.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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