MANILA, Philippines (AP) — When Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte hosts a summit of Southeast Asian leaders this weekend, the spotlight will be on him. Just less than a year in power, he faces a mass murder complaint before the International Criminal Court and an impeachment bid at home as bodies continue to pile up in his war on illegal drugs. Duterte, however, will find solace from the storm of criticism in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which has a bedrock policy forbidding its member states from meddling in each other's domestic affairs. That has fostered the 10-nation bloc, founded half a century ago, as it evolved into an unwieldy collective of dictatorships, authoritarian states and a monarchy, along with fledgling democracies.
TANAH LOT, Indonesia (AP) — Thousands of people flock daily to the centuries-old, sacred Hindu temple at Tanah Lot, a rock formation that juts into the Indian Ocean. An island at high tide and flanked by sheer cliffs, it's among Bali's most photographed sites, particularly for the mesmerizing sunsets that transform the waters into a shimmering orange vista. It's getting a new neighbor, described as "Trump International Hotel and Tower" in the Trump Organization's promotions for what will be its first resort in Asia. They promise breathtaking views, a super-sized golf course overlooking the temple and an "enchanting and unrivaled getaway from the current luxury hotels" in Bali.
ISLAMABAD (AP) — Afghanistan's Taliban announced the start of their spring offensive Friday, promising to build their political base in the country while focusing military assaults on coalition and Afghan security forces. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid announced the launch of the offensive in an email statement that boasted Taliban control over more than half of the country, referencing a February report issued by Washington's special inspector general for Afghan reconstruction. That report said that the Afghan government had control or influence over only 52 percent of Afghanistan's 407 districts last year, down from 63.4 percent previously. The Taliban dubbed this year's offensive "Operation Mansouri," named for the Taliban leader killed last year in a U.S.
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine prosecutors have filed murder charges against two police officers accused of killing a suspected drug dealer and his father inside a police station. It's a rare case of prosecution of police in a brutal war on drugs ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte that has left thousands dead. Prosecutor Alan Mangabat says the officers were each charged in February for the shooting deaths of Jaypee Bertes and his father Renato Bertes. He says the medical findings and gunshots sustained by the victims "do not jive with the policemen's version" that they were shot after trying to grab one of the officers' guns.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea observers have long marveled at the ability of a small, impoverished, autocratic nation to go toe-to-toe with the world's superpowers. Part of the secret to North Korean success has always been the ruling Kim family's mastery of the art of brinkmanship. What looks to outsiders like bluster, bombast and recklessness is actually a proven technique that over the years has won North Korea grudging respect from Washington and its allies, and at times filled its coffers with aid offered by rivals relieved to see animosity on the Korean Peninsula ease. In recent weeks, however, the roles may have reversed, with a new administration in Washington bulldozing its way to the brink before finally backing away.
PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — An acute shortage of gasoline in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang that has sparked price hikes and hoarding is raising fears of potentially crippling pain at the pumps if things don't get better soon — and driving rumors that China is to blame. The shortage, which is extremely unusual if not unprecedented, began last week when signs went up at gas stations around the city informing customers that restrictions on sales would be put in place until further notice. With no indication as of Wednesday night of when the restrictions might be lifted — or why they have been imposed — drivers continue to scramble to fill up their tanks and whatever other containers they can find.
BANGKOK (AP) — An heir to the Red Bull fortune failed to show up Thursday to face charges over an alleged hit-and-run that killed a Thai police officer almost five years ago, as prosecutors declared they would now seek a warrant for his arrest. Prayuth Petchkhun, a deputy spokesman for the attorney general's office, told The Associated Press that Vorayuth "Boss" Yoovidhya failed to meet a 4 p.m. deadline. His office had said that if Vorayuth failed to appear, it would send his case to the police on Friday so they can ask the court for an arrest warrant. "If it turns out that he is in Thailand, Thai police can find him and arrest him.
As Arkansas moved ahead Thursday with plans to execute a fourth inmate in eight days, The Associated Press checked into executions during the same period in other countries where the death penalty is regularly carried out. Experts cautioned that international statistics on executions are difficult to obtain because many countries shroud the process in secrecy. "I feel quite certain there are more executions that we don't know about," said Delphine Lourtau, executive director of the Cornell Center on the Death Penalty Worldwide, which maintains a database on executions across the globe. Lourtau said some of the countries where executions may have taken place but have not been confirmed include Iraq, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, Vietnam and Yemen.
SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Authorities in Indian-controlled Kashmir have banned 22 social media sites in an effort to calm tensions in the disputed region after videos depicting the alleged abuse of Kashmiris by Indian forces fueled protests. But the sites remained online Thursday as the local telecom company struggled to block them. The government said Wednesday that the one-month ban was necessary for public safety because social media were being "misused by anti-national and anti-social elements." "It's being felt that continued misuse of social networking sites and instant messaging services is likely to be detrimental to the interests of peace and tranquility in the state," the public order said.
SRINAGAR, India (AP) — A 70-year-old civilian was killed and seven people were injured during an anti-India protest that erupted Thursday following a gunbattle that killed three Indian soldiers and two suspected rebels in disputed Kashmir, police said. A group of militants stormed a military camp close to the heavily militarized Line of Control dividing the Himalayan region of Kashmir between India and Pakistan, army spokesman Col. Rajesh Kalia said. They hurled grenades and fired automatic weapons at the highly guarded camp in Panzgam, northwest of Kashmir's main city of Srinagar, a police officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak to the media.