Top Asian News 2:52 a.m. GMT

KAJANG, Malaysia (AP) — The Vietnamese woman who was tried for the killing of the estranged half brother of North Korea's leader was released Friday from a Malaysian prison and due to fly back to Hanoi later in the day, her lawyer and an embassy translator said. Doan Thi Huong's release likely closes the case, since four North Koreans named as co-conspirators in the 2017 slaying are not in custody. Malaysian officials never officially accused North Korea and made it clear they didn't want the trial politicized. Vietnamese embassy translator Maridam Yacfar told reporters at the prison that Doan Thi Huong looked "happy" but couldn't give further details.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A Turkish man wounded in the Christchurch mosque shootings seven weeks ago died late Thursday in Christchurch Hospital, raising the death toll to 51, authorities in New Zealand and Turkey confirmed. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Friday the sad news would be felt across both countries. "This man has been in intensive care since the attack," Ardern said in a statement. "We have all been hoping for the best, however he has now succumbed to the injuries sustained in the shooting at the Al Noor mosque." Relations between Turkey and New Zealand have been strained since the March 15 attack after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan showed clips from the gunman's livestreamed footage at his election campaign rallies to denounce hatred against Islam.

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australian political parties have cut loose or chastised several of their candidates less than three weeks before elections for sexist, anti-Muslim, racist and homophobic remarks mostly made on social media. The scandals surrounding candidates have become recurring distractions for Prime Minister Scott Morrison and opposition leader Bill Shorten this week as they attempt to sell their policies on the campaign trail ahead of the May 18 vote. A frustrated Morrison has suggested his conservative Liberal Party update its candidate vetting processes to deal with the online generation. Morrison on Thursday stood by Jessica Whelan, a Liberal candidate for the House of Representatives in Tasmania state, amid accusations she made anti-Muslim posts on social media.

WASHINGTON (AP) — China's first domestically built aircraft carrier is likely to enter into service this year, marking another advance in Beijing's ability to project influence well beyond its shores, the Pentagon said Thursday in an updated assessment of Chinese military power. The report to Congress comes amid increased emphasis by the Pentagon on adjusting to what it sees as an emerging challenge from China not only in naval strength but also in cyber capabilities, space power and missile technologies. Last year the Pentagon declared strategic competition with China and Russia to be its top priority, shifting from a focus on fighting extremist groups and insurgencies that began with the invasion of Afghanistan after the Sept.

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka's Catholic cardinal received "foreign information" that attempts would be made this week to attack a church and another church institution, according to a letter he sent Thursday to church officials that later appeared on social media. Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the archbishop of Colombo and an outspoken critic of the Sri Lankan government's apparent failure to act on Indian government intelligence ahead of the Easter attacks, said in the letter that he was closing churches and Catholic schools throughout Sri Lanka and canceling public congregations for Mass "until further notice." "For your own good, we have decided to close down those institutions," he wrote.

NEW DELHI (AP) — Hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated along India's eastern coast on Thursday as authorities braced for a cyclone moving through the Bay of Bengal that was forecast to bring extremely severe wind and rain. The India Meteorological Department in New Delhi said Cyclone Fani was expected to make landfall on Friday with gale-force winds of up to 200 kilometers (124 miles) per hour likely starting Thursday night. It warned of "extremely heavy falls" over parts of the state of Odisha and its southern neighbor Andhra Pradesh. India's National Disaster Management Authority forecast "high to phenomenal" sea conditions for most of the Indian states along the Bay of Bengal.

LONDON (AP) — Britain's former defense secretary ferociously denied allegations that he leaked details from private government discussions about the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei, as opposition leaders called Thursday for a criminal investigation into the scandal. Gavin Williamson was fired from the government's top defense job late Wednesday by Prime Minister Theresa May, who said she had seen "compelling evidence" that he was behind media reports that the government had agreed — against the advice of the United States — to let Huawei participate in some aspects of Britain's new 5G wireless communications network. It was the first time in decades that a senior minister has been fired over leaks of sensitive information.

Emperor Naruhito succeeded to the Chrysanthemum Throne after his father Akihito abdicated in a series of rituals and ceremonies in Japan. In other images from the Asia-Pacific region this week, workers marked May Day with rallies in cities and by demanding better working conditions. Thailand is preparing for the coronation of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, also known as King Rama X. In South Korea, children whose heads were shaved as part of a religious event enjoyed an amusement park visit. The children entered temples to experience monastic life for three weeks in advance of Buddha's birthday on May 12. ___ This gallery was curated by Associated Press photo editor Wally Santana in Bangkok.

NEW YORK (AP) — Nearly 40 years after it was found by a monk in a Chinese cave, a fossilized chunk of jawbone has been revealed as coming from a mysterious relative of the Neanderthals. Until now, the only known remains of these Denisovans were a few scraps of bone and teeth recovered in a Siberian cave. DNA from those Siberian fossils showed kinship with Neanderthals. But the remains disclosed little else. The new discovery was made roughly 1,400 miles (2,300 kilometers) to the southeast in Gansu province of China. The right half of a jawbone with teeth is at least 160,000 years old, scientists reported Wednesday in the journal Nature.

ISLAMABAD (AP) — In a major diplomatic win for India, the United Nations added the leader of an outlawed Pakistani militant group to its sanctions blacklist Wednesday after the group claimed responsibility for a February suicide attack in disputed Kashmir that killed 40 Indian soldiers. Sanctions against Masood Azhar were confirmed by Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal at a news conference in Islamabad. Azhar's addition to the Security Council's Islamic State and al-Qaida blacklist includes a travel ban and freeze on his assets as well as an arms embargo. The development came less than three months after Azhar's Jaish-e-Mohammed group claimed responsibility for the Feb.