BACOLOD, Philippines (AP) — Philippine police say 14 suspected communist rebels have been killed after they opened fire during raids but rights groups countered the men were farmers and the latest victim of extrajudicial killings. Regional police chief Debold Sinas says police backed by army troops were to conduct court-authorized home searches Saturday in three towns in Negros Oriental province when the 14 violently fought back. Fifteen others were arrested while six escaped in the anti-insurgency and criminality sweep. Human rights and farmers' groups on Sunday condemned the killings of the men they said were farmers, including two village chiefs, and called for an independent investigation.
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Police in Bangladesh's capital have arrested two of the owners of a commercial complex that caught fire last week, killing 26 people and injuring about 70. Additional Deputy Commissioner of the Detective Branch Shahjahan Shaju told The Associated Press early Sunday that they arrested F.R. Tower's owners Tasvir-ul-Islam and S.M.H.I. Faruque in Dhaka after police charged them with negligence and violations of a building code that resulted in casualties. Authorities say the complex on a busy avenue in Dhaka's Banani commercial district had no fire-protected staircases and some top floors of the 22-story building were illegally constructed.
BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand's king has stripped fugitive former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra of his royal decorations, citing his 2008 flight to escape serving a two-year prison term on a conflict of interest conviction and other legal cases against him. Thai media reported that the royal command from King Maha Vajiralongkorn was published Saturday in the Royal Gazette. The move follows a March 24 general election in which a party loyal to Thaksin claimed it won enough seats to form a coalition that would hold a majority in the House of Representatives. Final certified results will not be issued until May 9, and the Election Commission has warned there could be some disqualifications by then.
NEW YORK (AP) — Cities around the world marked Earth Hour on Saturday by turning off lights at 8:30 p.m. local time in a call for global action on climate change. Earth Hour, spearheaded by the World Wildlife Fund, calls for greater awareness and more sparing use of resources, especially fossil fuels that produce carbon gases and lead to global warming. Beginning in Sydney in 2007, Earth Hour has spread to more than 180 countries, with tens of millions of people joining in. The Empire State Building participated as clocks hit 8:30 p.m. on the U.S. East Coast with a dimming of the skyscrapers' lights.
BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Two Japanese teenagers have been found dead in Australia's Lake McKenzie after being reported missing from a school tour. The boys' bodies were discovered by police divers on Saturday morning. Inspector Tony Clowes of the Queensland Police said authorities will be interviewing witnesses to determine what happened at the popular tourist destination, described by the mayor as "a calm lake in the middle of an island." "This is a tragic event, there is no doubt about that," Clowes told reporters, adding that there is always a risk when entering waterways. He said he did not know if the 16-year-olds could swim.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A Taliban assault on a police checkpoint led to the deaths of four students Saturday in eastern Ghazni province, a provincial official said. Arif Noori, a spokesman for provincial governor, said that 17 others, including 15 students and two teachers, were wounded when an explosion, likely caused by rocket fire, hit the school in Andar district. The spokesman added that the students killed are between 10 and 16 years old. He said that provincial officials are investigating who fired the projectile hitting the school during the standoff between security forces and Taliban. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — George Clooney is calling for the boycott of nine hotels in the U.S. and Europe with ties to the sultan of Brunei, which next month will implement Islamic criminal laws to punish gay sex by stoning offenders to death. The Hollywood actor wrote Thursday in Deadline Hollywood: "Are we really going to help fund the murder of innocent citizens?" He writes that you can't shame "murderous regimes," but you can shame "the banks, the financiers and the institutions that do business with them." Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah rules the oil-rich monarchy with full executive authority, and the hotels are owned by the Brunei Investment Agency.
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Authorities in Bangladesh imposed tougher safety rules after more than 1,100 people died when a garment factory complex collapsed near Dhaka in 2013. But continuing corruption and lax enforcement have resulted in many more deaths from safety lapses since the Rana Plaza disaster, including a fire Thursday at an illegally constructed high-rise office building that killed 25 people and left dozens injured. The fire in Banani, a busy upscale commercial district, exposed the vulnerabilities hidden behind the glass towers that have become symbols of Bangladesh's rapid growth. While its economy has expanded by more than 6 percent annually in the last decade, safety regulations and enforcement have lagged behind, experts say.
BEIJING (AP) — Chinese and U.S. negotiators adjourned trade talks in Beijing on Friday with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin saying they had been "constructive." Neither side gave any details on whether the talks made progress on issues preventing them from reaching an agreement to end a wide-ranging dispute over technology and industrial policy between the world's two biggest economies. Mnuchin said in a tweet Friday that he and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer had "concluded constructive trade talks." "I look forward to welcoming China's Vice Premier Liu He to continue these important discussions in Washington next week," he said. Mnuchin and Lighthizer attended a working dinner with Liu on Thursday night, shortly after their arrival in the Chinese capital.
BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand's Election Commission said that computer software was partly to blame for inconsistent and delayed vote totals from last Sunday's general election. During early reporting of the election results, its tabulation software had trouble handling data entered simultaneously from several points and sometimes displayed incorrect numbers, the commission said in a statement Friday as it faced criticism over lack of transparency. Several political activists said they are starting a petition to impeach the election commissioners. On Thursday, the commission issued a 208-page compilation of votes in every constituency in response to criticism, but some tallies still failed to add up correctly.