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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

March 16, 2014

ASIA:

MALAYSIA-PLANE

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysian authorities are investigating the pilots of the missing jetliner after it was established that whoever flew off with the Boeing 777 had intimate knowledge of the cockpit and knew how to avoid detection when navigating around Asia. By Chris Brummitt. SENT: 1,000 words, photos, video, audio, interactive. UPCOMING: Developments will be expedited. News conference scheduled for 0930 GMT.

INDIA-MALAYSIA PLANE

NEW DELHI — Massive Indian navy and air search operations for the missing Malaysian aircraft are suspended until fresh search areas are identified by the Malaysian government, an official says. By Ashok Sharma. SENT: 300 words.

— MALAYSIA-PLANE-TAKEOVER EVIDENCE — There are three pieces of evidence that aviation safety experts say make it clear the missing Malaysia Airlines jet was taken over by someone who was knowledgeable about how the plane worked. SENT: 560 words.

— AP PHOTO WM106 — A woman reads messages and well wishes to people involved with the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner.

JAPAN-NKOREA

TOKYO — The parents of a Japanese woman abducted by North Korea in 1977 have met their Korean-born granddaughter for the first time. SENT: 240 words.

U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL:

UKRAINE — Russian forces backed by helicopter gunships and armored vehicles have taken control of a village near the border with Crimea on the eve of a referendum on whether the region should seek annexation by Moscow, Ukrainian officials said. The action in Strilkove appeared to be the first move outside Crimea, where Russian forces have been in effective control since late last month. There were no reports of gunfire or injuries. The incident raises tensions already at a high level before Sunday’s referendum. By Mike Eckel and JimHeintz. SENT: 1,150 words, photos.

— UKRAINE-MAROONED MILITARY — In the eastern reaches of the Crimean Peninsula, Ukraine’s helpless and marooned military is gripped by confusion and uncertainty. SENT: 1,100 words, photos.

— UNITED NATIONS-UKRAINE — Russia vetoes U.N. resolution on Crimea’s future, China abstains showing Moscow’s isolation. SENT: 740 words, photos, audio.

WCUP-BROKEN PROMISES

CUIABA, Brazil — Pedestrians tiptoe across a road scarred with deep puddles, piles of gravel and a detour sign. Oily slush leaves no room for missteps or steering mistakes. The debris is part of the grand-scale mess of unfulfilled promises of development from this summer’s World Cup. From the look of things, they won’t be done in Cuiaba or in Brazil’s other 11 host cities, where many construction plans are hopelessly behind schedule, or have been canceled. By Stephen Wade. SENT: 2,000 words, photos.

SYRIA

BEIRUT — Syrian troops advance in a major rebel-held town near the Lebanese border amid heavy bombardment from warplanes, artillery and tanks as the country’s bloody conflict marks its third anniversary. What began amid Arab Spring protests across the region descended first into an armed insurgency and later a full-blown civil war that activists say has killed more than 140,000 people. By Bassem Mroue and Diaa Hadid. SENT: 900 words, photos.

— SYRIA-TIMELINE — A look at key events in Syria since the beginning of the revolt against Bashar Assad. SENT: 570 words, photo.

SYRIA-LOST GENERATION

MAJDAL ANJAR, Lebanon — Along with some 20 other Syrian children, 13-year-old Anas braves rain, mud and cold to attend class in a tent pitched along Lebanon’s border with Syria, the home of a Syrian refugee family that serves a classroom for four hours each day. But even he’s one of the lucky ones. Nearly half of Syrian children, all of whom got at least a primary school education before the civil war started, cannot get an education because of its devastation and violence. By Barbara Surk. SENT: 900 words, photos.

NYC EXPLOSION

NEW YORK — Emergency workers sifted through debris Saturday from the site of a deadly explosion at two New York City apartment buildings as they worked to reach deeper into the basement levels to clear the way for investigators to search for clues that might reveal what caused the blast. By Jim Fitzgerald. SENT: 150 words. UPCOMING: 775 words, photos by 6:30 p.m.

RUSSIA-UKRAINE-INFORMATION WAR

MOSCOW — This is how Ukraine is depicted in most Russian media: the government is run by anti-Semitic fascists, people killed in protests were shot by opposition snipers, the West is behind it all. And the room to disagree with that portrayal is getting smaller by the week. With Crimea set to hold a referendum Sunday on whether to merge with Russia, the push to demonize Ukraine’s leadership has reached fever pitch. Authorities in Ukraine have responded by blocking Russian TV channels. By Peter Leonard. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

EGYPT

CAIRO — Gunmen stormed an Egyptian army checkpoint outside Cairo and killed six soldiers, including some still in their beds, officials said, in what amounted to an escalation by militants on military targets near the capital. Just days earlier, masked men opened fire on a busload of military police inside city limits, a rare occurrence in an area far from the restive Sinai Peninsula, where the army is carrying out a counter-insurgency campaign. By Maamoun Youssef. SENT: 800 words, photos.

KENYA-ANTI-TERROR POLICE

NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenyan security officials are working to stop another Westgate Mall-style terrorist attack — that many here believe Somali militants will try again — on a shoe-string budget: The Anti-Terror Police Unit in Nairobi has just $750 to spend this month. By Tom Odula. SENT: 900 words, photos.

ALSO GETTING ATTENTION

— UNITED STATES-AFGHANISTAN AID — Main U.S. foreign assistance agency wants to step up use of smartphones, satellite imagery and GPS cameras to oversee tax-funded development projects in Afghanistan that aid workers no longer will be able to observe firsthand as American troops leave the country. SENT: 710 words.

— CANADA-FORD-KEVIN SPACEY — Kevin Spacey tweets photo in response to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s verbal attack on him. SENT: 290 words.

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YOUR QUERIES: The editor in charge at the AP Asia-Pacific Desk in Bangkok is Hrvoje Hranjski. 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.

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