ASIA:

PAKISTAN

BANNU, Pakistan — Pakistan's air force pounds targets in the country's northwest, killing 27 militants, the army says, as the government finally pushes ahead with a military offensive against insurgent safe havens. The airstrikes are part of the long-awaited operation against foreign and local militants in North Waziristan, a tribal region near the Afghan border that is used as a base by the insurgents to attack the rest of Pakistan. By Ijaz Muhammed and Asif Shahzad. SENT: 790 words, photos.

THAILAND-THE NEXT DEMOCRACY

BANGKOK — From the day Thailand's military coup leader seized power last month, he has promised unspecified reforms to restore stability and return to civilian rule and democracy. Yet, Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha has mentioned a striking obstacle to a "fully functional democracy" — elections. According to the general, elections themselves have contributed to years of bitter political division and sometimes-violent street protests in Thailand. By Kay Johnson. SENT: 1,200 words, photos.

SRI LANKA-VIOLENCE

ALUTHGAMA, Sri Lanka — Hard-line Buddhist monks hurl gasoline bombs and loot homes and businesses in several Muslim towns in a bloody overnight raid, killing three Muslims and seriously wounding more than 50 people, authorities say. The attack was led by a mob from Bodu Bala Sena — or Buddhist Power Force — which rails against the country's Muslim minority. SENT: 480 words, photos.

CHINA-TIANANMEN ATTACK

BEIJING — A court in western China sentences three people to death for planning a deadly car ramming at Beijing's iconic Tiananmen Gate last year that was blamed on Muslim separatists, state media report. The three were accused of providing funds to carry out the Oct. 28 attack, in which a car plowed through tourists and ended up in a fiery crash in the heart of Beijing, killing two bystanders and the three attackers. SENT: 390 words, photos.

CHINA-AI WEIWEI-INSTAGRAM

BEIJING — Days after sparking a new Internet meme with photos of people brandishing their legs as guns, Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei says his original posting on Instagram was a statement about the overuse of power in fighting terrorism. China is in the midst of an anti-terror campaign prompted by several high-profile attacks on civilians over the past year blamed on Muslim militants from the country's far western Xinjiang region. Scores of people have been arrested in Xinjiang, security on subways in cities throughout the country has been tightened and many local police are now carrying guns for the first time. SENT: 340 words, photos.

— CHINA-XINJIANG — Three assailants with knives rush into a card room to attack people in China's western region of Xinjiang, in a clash that draws armed security forces, the government says. SENT: 200 words.

AFGHANISTAN

KABUL, Afghanistan — A roadside bomb planted by the Afghan Taliban kills five civilians from the same family in the southern Kandahar province, the Interior Ministry says. Three of victims were children. The attack follows last weekend's presidential runoff, a vote which the Taliban had warned Afghans not to participate in or face attack. On Sunday, officials said the group had cut of the fingers of a dozen voters in retribution and also killed 11 people. SENT: 200 words.

CHINA-SOUTH CHINA SEA

BEIJING — China rejects a suggestion by the Philippines for a regionwide ban on construction in the South China Sea after Beijing began building a school on a rugged outpost it created to strengthen its claims to disputed waters. Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said he will propose that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations call for such a moratorium. By Louise Watt. SENT: 540 words, photos.

NEPAL-MYANMAR

KATMANDU, Nepal — Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says it is up to the will of the people of her country if she becomes their president, reacting to a vote against changing a constitutional clause that bars her from the office. "Whether or not I become the president in the future depends on the will of the people, their will with regard to amending the constitution and their will with regard to whom they wish to choose as a president," she said at the end of a four-day visit to Nepal. By Binaj Gurubacharya. SENT: 420 words, photos.

PAPUA NEW GUINEA-POLITICS

CANBERRA, Australia — Papua New Guinean Prime Minister Peter O'Neill is served with an arrest warrant in a fraud case, the head of the South Pacific country's anti-corruption body says. The warrant relates to allegations that O'Neill personally authorized the illegal payment of about $30 million in government money to law firm Paul Paraka Lawyers. By Rod McGuirk. SENT: 310 words, photos.

MALAYSIA-KIDNAPPING

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysian police say gunmen seized two workers from a fish farm on Borneo island. It was the third kidnapping in Malaysia's Sabah state since April and highlights persistent security threats in the state, a short boat ride from the southern Philippines, home to Muslim militants and kidnap gangs. SENT: 330 words.

GUAM CRASH-STABBINGS

HAGATNA, Guam — The murder trial of a 22-year-old man charged with killing three Japanese tourists during a rampage on Guam last year opens with the prosecution saying rage triggered the attack, while the defense argued the defendant was mentally ill. Authorities accuse Chad Ryan DeSoto of barreling his car down a sidewalk, crashing into a convenience store, then getting out and stabbing bystanders during the Feb. 12, 2013, attack that killed the three tourists and injured 11 others, a spate of violence that shocked the island U.S. territory. By Grace Garces Bordallo. SENT: 570 words.

U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL:

KENYA-HOTEL ATTACK

Dozens of Somali extremists wielding automatic weapons attack a small Kenyan coastal town for hours, assaulting the police station, setting two hotels on fire, and spraying bullets into the street. At least 48 people were killed in an attack that met little resistance from Kenyan security forces. A police commander says gunmen pulled the town's men aside and ordered the women to watch as they killed them. SENT: 560 words, photos.

IRAQ

BAGHDAD — Sunni militants capture a key northern Iraqi town along the highway to Syria, compounding the woes of Iraq's Shiite-led government a week after it lost a vast swath of territory to the insurgents in the country's north. The fall of Tal Afar came just hours after Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki vowed to retake verey inch of territory seized by the militants in a lightening offensive that has plunged Iraq into its worst crisis since the 2011 withdrawal of U.S. troops. By Qassim Abdul-zahra and Sameer n. Yacoub. SENT: 1,070 words, photos, video.

UNITED STATES-IRAQ

WASHINGTON — As Baghdad was threatened by the advance of an al-Qaida inspired insurgency, the State Department announced it was reinforcing security at the U.S. Embassy in Iraq's capital — and sending some personnel out of town. By Kimberly Hefling. SENT: 860 words, photos, video.

BERGDAHL-TALIBAN

WASHINGTON — Despite securing the release of five top Taliban detainees from the prison at Guantanamo Bay in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, there are few indications that the militant group will head into peace talks with the Afghan government any time soon. By Deb Riechmann. SENT: 1,050 words, photos.

SCHUMACHER RELEASED

BERLIN — Formula One great Michael Schumacher is no longer in a coma and has left a French hospital where he had been receiving treatment since a skiing accident in December. A brief statement by his family and manager expresses gratitude to his medical team and says he will continue the "long phase of rehabilitation," hoping that this will be kept away from the public eye. By Geir Moulson. SENT: 510 words, photo.

WCUP-NUTRITION

SAO PAULO — Italy packed Parmesan, olive oil and cured prosciutto. The U.S. brought oatmeal, Cheerios, peanut butter and A1 steak sauce. The Mexican team, of course, required a little more spice. El Tri traveled with the ingredients for pozole, along with chile peppers, chipotle chiles and nopales — or cactus. When it comes to World Cup food, teams aren't willing to leave anything to chance. They expect their players to have top nutrition, and also want them to enjoy some favorites so they are comfortable and at their best when it's time to play. By Janie McCauley. SENT: 820 words, photos.

UKRAINE-RUSSIA

MOSCOW — Russia cuts gas supplies to Ukraine as a payment deadline passed and negotiators failed to reach a deal on gas prices and unpaid bills amid continued fighting in eastern Ukraine. The decision does not immediately affect the gas flow to Europe, but could disrupt the long-term energy supply to the region if the issue is not resolved. By Nataliya Vasilyeva And David McHugh. SENT: 880 words, photos.

RUSSIA-CRIMEAN HOLIDAY

MOSCOW — When Russia annexed the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea earlier this year, it regained not only harbors for its navy and abandoned Ukrainian military bases but also long stretches of pebble beaches that were the summer destination of choice for millions of Soviet citizens. This summer, however, tourists need a push to go and some help in getting there. With Crimea's beaches eerily empty at the start of the summer season and the livelihood of many under threat, the Kremlin has come up with an ingenious way to attract tourists to the peninsula: It has asked state-controlled companies to get their employees to go there on vacation by paying for all or part of their trips. SENT: 980 words, photos.

COLOMBIA-ELECTION

BOGOTA, Colombia — President Juan Manuel Santos bills his re-election as a ringing endorsement of peace talks he is pursuing to end Colombia's long-running conflict. But many voters had a different priority: Keep Alvaro Uribe from returning to power. By Frank Bajak. SENT: 900 words, photos.

BRITAIN FASHION MENSWEAR WEEK

LONDON —When it comes to dressing gentleman, few cities can rival the British capital. Steeped in a rich history of tailoring for kings, army generals and the world's wealthiest men, London is now being marketed as the home of men's fashion — the original birthplace of the tuxedo jacket, the bowler hat and the three-piece suit, among other classic items. As menswear shows take place in London this week, a look at the city's famed tailors and fashion houses. By Sylvia Hui. SENT: 720 words, photos.

NBA FINALS

SAN ANTONIO — Painfully denied 12 months ago by the Heat, this victory party was worth the wait. The Spurs finished off a dominant run to their fifth NBA championship, ending the Heat's two-year title reign with a 104-87 victory that wrapped up the NBA Finals in five games. By Basketball Writer Brian Mahoney. SENT: 740 words, photos, video.

US OPEN

PINEHURST, N.C. — They could've given Martin Kaymer the trophy before the weekend the way he ripped through Pinehurst No. 2 like he was playing the local muni. With a performance reminiscent of Rory McIlroy's domination at Congressional and Tiger Woods' romp around Pebble Beach, Kaymer blew away the field for an eight stroke victory in the sandhills of North Carolina, on a course that was as tough as advertised — for everyone except the 29-year-old German. By National Writer Paul Newberry. SENT: 1,040 words, photos.

GETTING ATTENTION

— OBIT-CASEY KASEM —Casey Kasem, who became the king of the top 40 countdown with a syndicated show that ran for decades, dies Sunday. He was 82. SENT: 760 words, photos, video.

— STARBUCKS-EDUCATION — Starbucks to offer online college program to workers; program replaces existing tuition plan. SENT: 480 words.

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YOUR QUERIES: The editor in charge at the AP Asia-Pacific Desk in Bangkok is David Thurber. Questions and story requests are welcome. The news desk can be reached at (66) 2632-6911 or by email at asia@ap.org.

The Asia Photo Desk can be reached at (81-3) 6215-8941 or by fax at (81-3) 3574-8850.

Between 1600 GMT and 0000 GMT, please refer queries to the North America Desk in New York at (1) 212-621-1650.