WELLNGTON, New Zealand (AP) — When the gunman began to attack the Al Noor mosque, Ahmed Alayedy scrambled to get to the nearest emergency exit. He was the first one there. "I tried to open the door," he said. "But it doesn't open." Alayedy and other survivors of the March 15 mosque attacks in New Zealand have described to The Associated Press a scene of confusion and terror at the door on one side of the main prayer room, in the first accounts of the role the door played. Alayedy said so many people began crushing him against the door that some of his ribs cracked.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Facebook is extending its ban on hate speech to prohibit the promotion and support of white nationalism and white separatism. The company previously allowed such material even though it has long banned white supremacists. The social network said Wednesday that it didn't apply the ban previously to expressions of white nationalism because it linked such expressions with broader concepts of nationalism and separatism — such as American pride or Basque separatism (which are still allowed). But civil rights groups and academics called this view "misguided" and have long pressured the company to change its stance. Facebook said it concluded after months of "conversations" with them that white nationalism and separatism cannot be meaningfully separated from white supremacy and organized hate groups.
BANGKOK (AP) — A group of Thai political parties led by one ousted from power in a military coup said they believed they won enough seats in the recent general election to form the next government. The announcement Wednesday came amid concerns about potential irregularities in Sunday's vote, the first since a 2014 coup, and before a full preliminary vote count has even been released. Official results aren't due until May. The leader of the Pheu Thai party, which headed the last elected government, and the leaders of five other parties held a news conference to say they believed they had won more than 250 seats in the 500-seat lower house.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The 10 people who allegedly raided the North Korean Embassy in Madrid last month belong to a mysterious dissident organization that styles itself as a government-in-exile dedicated to toppling the ruling Kim family dynasty in North Korea. The leader of the alleged intruders appears to be a Yale-educated human rights activist who was once jailed in China while trying to rescue North Korean defectors living in hiding, according to activists and defectors. Details have begun trickling out about the raid after a Spanish judge lifted a secrecy order Tuesday and said an investigation of what happened on Feb.
WASHINGTON (AP) — North Korea's work on nuclear weapons and missiles is "inconsistent" with its stated intent to move toward nuclear disarmament on the Korean Peninsula, the commander of American and allied forces in South Korea said Wednesday. Army Gen. Robert Abrams, in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, also said he has seen "little to no change" in North Korea's broader military capabilities, citing its typical pace of winter troop exercises. Asked by Rep. Mac Thornberry of Texas, the panel's ranking Republican, where there has been any recent change in the North's production of nuclear weapons and material and missiles, Abrams said, "Their activity that we've observed is inconsistent with denuclearization." Abrams offered to provide details of that activity in a closed session.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Amnesty International on Wednesday slammed plans by Brunei to implement what the rights group called "vicious" Islamic criminal laws such as stoning to death for gay sex and amputation for theft. Amnesty said in a statement that the new penalties, which also apply to children, are provided for in new sections under Brunei's Sharia Penal Code and will come into effect April 3. The legal changes were announced in a discreet notice on the attorney general's website, it said. "To legalize such cruel and inhuman penalties is appalling of itself," said Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Brunei researcher at Amnesty International.
NEW DELHI (AP) — India successfully test-fired an anti-satellite weapon Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in an unexpected announcement of military advancement that was broadcast live just weeks before a general election. He said the destruction of a satellite in low-earth orbit by missile demonstrated India's capacity as a "space power" alongside the U.S., Russia and China. The announcement is Modi's latest bid to flex India's military muscle as his party seeks to retain power in polls beginning April 11. After 40 Indian soldiers were killed in a February suicide bombing in disputed Kashmir, India said it retaliated with a "surgical strike" on a terrorist camp in Pakistan.
BEIJING (AP) — China said Wednesday that it has expelled former Interpol President Meng Hongwei from public office and the ruling Communist Party as he awaits trial on corruption charges. Meng was elected Interpol president in 2016, but his four-year mandate was cut short when he was detained without notice by Chinese authorities last October during a visit to China from Interpol headquarters in France. At the time, Meng was also one of China's vice ministers of public security. An investigation found Meng guilty of serious legal violations, a party statement said, noting that he had failed to abide by party principles and implement the party's decisions.
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United States is seeking to put the head of a Pakistan-based militant group blamed by India for a Feb. 14 suicide attack that killed 40 Indian soldiers in Kashmir on the U.N. sanctions blacklist. A draft resolution circulated to Security Council members Wednesday and obtained by The Associated Press would impose a travel ban and freeze the assets of Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar. It would also condemn "in the strongest terms the heinous and cowardly suicide bombing" in the Indian-held portion of Kashmir that resulted in the deaths of 40 paramilitary soldiers and the wounding of dozens of others.
BEIJING (AP) — Chinese officials responsible for Tibet praised development in the Himalayan region in the 60 years since the suppression of an uprising against Beijing's rule. The remarks Wednesday and an accompanying report by China's Cabinet follow a disclosure from the U.S. this week that American diplomats and officials have been impeded on visits to the region and journalists curbed from making independent assessments of people's lives there. Tibet's executive vice governor Norbu Dondrup reviewed gains in the economy, health care and education since 1959 and castigated the self-declared government-in-exile established by Buddhist leader the Dalai Lama as illegitimate. The now-83-year-old Dalai Lama fled to India after the uprising was suppressed.