World this week
Taiwan's military shot down for the first time an unidentified civilian drone that entered its airspace near an islet off the Chinese coast, after the government vowed to take tough measures to deal with an increase in such intrusions. Beijing, which claims Taiwan as its own against the objections of the Taipei government, has held military exercises around the island since last month in reaction to a visit to Taipei by Nancy Pelosi.
Taiwan's government has said it will not provoke or escalate tensions but has been particularly angered recently by repeated cases of Chinese drones buzzing islands controlled by Taiwan close to China's coast. The defence command for Kinmen, a group of Taiwan-controlled islands opposite the Chinese cities Xiamen and Quanzhou, said in a statement that the drone entered restricted airspace over Lion Islet just after midday local time on Thursday. It came a day after warning shots were fired at Chinese drones for the first time by the same command.
The International Monetary Fund announced it has reached a preliminary agreement to provide Sri Lanka with $2.9 billion over four years to help it recover from its worst economic crisis. The arrangement will help restore financial and macroeconomic stability and debt sustainability as well as enable the country's growth potential, an IMF team visiting Sri Lanka said in a statement.
The package is contingent on approval from the IMF management and executive board, as well as on receiving assurances from Sri Lanka's creditors, which include China, India and Japan, that debt sustainability will be restored. Speaking to reporters in Colombo, the IMF's Peter Breuer said that since Sri Lanka's debt is currently unsustainable, the lender will need to see an engagement between the country and its creditors before it can commit resources. "If creditors are not willing to provide these assurances, that will deepen the crisis in Sri Lanka and would undermine its repayment capacity," he said.
Shamima Begum, who fled the UK and joined the Islamic State group, was smuggled into Syria by an intelligence agent for Canada. Files seen by the BBC show he claimed to have shared Begum's passport details with Canada, and smuggled other Britons to fight for IS. Begum's lawyers are challenging the removal of her citizenship, arguing she was a trafficking victim. Canada and the UK declined to comment on security issues.
Begum was 15 when she and two other east London schoolgirls - Kadiza Sultana, 16, and 15-year-old Amira Abase - travelled to Syria to join the IS group in 2015. At the main Istanbul bus station, the girls met Mohammed Al Rasheed, who would facilitate their journey to IS-controlled Syria. A senior intelligence officer, at an agency which is part of the global coalition against IS, has confirmed to the BBC that Rasheed was providing information to Canadian intelligence while smuggling people to IS.
The U.N. accused China of serious human rights violations that may amount to "crimes against humanity" in a long-delayed report examining a crackdown on Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim ethnic groups. Beijing on Thursday denounced the assessment as a fabrication cooked up by Western nations. For several years, human rights groups have accused China of sweeping a million or more people from the minority groups into detention camps in a ruthless campaign against extremism that has struck fear into large segments of the population in the far western province of Xinjiang.
The assessment from the Geneva-based U.N. human rights office largely corroborated earlier reporting by researchers, advocacy groups and the news media, and it added the weight of the world body to the conclusions. But it was not clear what impact it would have. China issued a 122-page rebuttal, entitled "Fight against Terrorism and Extremism in Xinjiang: Truth and Facts," that was posted by the U.N. along with the report.
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