BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

ASIA:

MALAYSIA-NORTH KOREA — Malaysian authorities announce two more arrests in the death of the North Korean leader's half brother, whose apparent assassination this week unleashed a wave of speculation and intrigue: a pair of female assailants, a broad-daylight killing and a dictator-sibling out for blood. By Eileen Ng. SENT: 780 words, photos. With MALAYSIA-NORTH KOREA-THE LATEST.

NORTH KOREA-A PRINCELING DIES — What do we really know about the sudden death of an exiled North Korean princeling? Aside from heated media speculation and an instant "it's-gotta-be-Pyongyang" reaction from Seoul's spy agency, not much. By Foster Klug. SENT: 980 words, photos.

NKOREA-EYE OF THE STORM — Unaware of reports his eldest son — and current leader Kim Jong Un's half brother — was killed just days ago in what appears to have been a carefully planned assassination, North Koreans mark the birthday of late leader Kim Jong Il on Thursday as they do every year, with dancing, special treats for children and reverential bows and bouquets of flowers before bronze statues. There has been no mention of half brother Kim Jong Nam's killing at the Kuala Lumpur airport in the North's official media. By Eric Talmadge. SENT: 430 words, photos.

NKOREA-MALAYSIA-FEMALE SPIES — A South Korean passenger plane that exploded off the coast of Southeast Asia. Army officers lured into sexual encounters. A secret agent spirited back to North Korea in a tiny submarine. North Korea has a long history of dispatching female spies on some of its most dangerous and deadly assignments. So the arrests of two women in connection with the apparent killing this week of an exiled member of North Korea's ruling family has helped fuel suspicions that the North was involved in the mysterious death. By Hyung-jin Kim. SENT: 690 words, photos.

INDONESIA-MALAYSIA-NORTH KOREA — Indonesian diplomats meet with a woman arrested in Malaysia for suspected involvement in the killing of the North Korean leader's half brother and confirm she is an Indonesian citizen. By Niniek Karmini. SENT: 370 words.

CHINA-CARFENTANIL — China is adding the deadly elephant tranquilizer carfentanil and three related synthetic opioids to its list of controlled substances effective March 1, China's National Narcotics Control Commission says. The move closes a major loophole in the global regulation of a substance so lethal it has been used as a chemical weapon and described as a terrorist threat. By Erika Kinetz. SENT: 510 words, photos.

CHINA-HUMAN RIGHTS — Lawyers who defend human rights activists and dissidents targeted by China's Communist government have increasingly themselves become subject to political prosecutions, violence and other means of suppression, according to a report. By Nomaan Merchant. SENT: 660 words.

CHINA-POLLUTION PROTEST — Police and protesters opposed to the construction of a massive aluminum plant clash in a northern Chinese city despite the local government's announcement that it was suspending the project. SENT: 200 words.

CHINA-BIRDFLU — An outbreak of H7N9 bird flu in China killed 79 people in January, the most in a single month in at least three years, the country's national health authority says. By Nomaan Merchant. SENT: 300 words.

MYANMAR-ROHINGYA — Myanmar's government says the military has ended its four-month counterinsurgency operation in troubled Rakhine state, where it had been accused of rape, torture and other abuses against Muslim Rohingya minority residents. SENT: 350 words.

SKOREA-POLITICS-SAMSUNG — The billionaire heir to Samsung, South Korea's most successful and best known conglomerate, makes his second attempt to block efforts by prosecutors to arrest him on bribery and other charges in connection with a corruption scandal that has engulfed the country's president. By Youkyung Lee. SENT: 900 words, photos.

SKOREA-POLITICS — A South Korean court denies a bid by prosecutors to force aides of impeached President Park Geun-hye to comply with a search on the presidential compound. The decision by the Seoul Administrative Court is a setback for the special prosecution team that must conclude its inquiry into Park's corruption allegations by the end of the month. SENT: 240 words.

INDONESIA-JAKARTA ELECTION — A tight and possibly ugly contest is expected in a second round election for governor of the Indonesian capital that will pit the minority Christian incumbent against a former cabinet minister backed by conservative Muslim clerics. By Stephen Wright. SENT: 700 words, photos.

PAKISTAN — Pakistani security forces raid a hideout of Taliban-linked suspected Islamic militants, killing 6 of them, a counter-terrorism official says. SENT: 210 words, photos.

THAILAND-TEMPLE RAID — Thai police raid the headquarters temple of a controversial Buddhist sect on Thursday, seeking to detain its chief, a monk facing criminal charges including accepting $40 million in embezzled money. By Dow Kaewjinda and Dake Kang. SENT: 530 words, photos.

PHILIPPINES-DUTERTE-BANK ACCOUNTS — An opposition senator presses Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to release details of his bank accounts to disprove allegations that he has large sums of undeclared money. SENT: 410 words, photos.

NEW ZEALAND-WILDFIRES — Firefighters in New Zealand's second-largest city halt a wildfire's advance on suburban homes after it burned down 11 houses and forced hundreds of people to evacuate. By Nick Perry. SENT: 400 words, photos.

BANGLADESH-GARMENT WORKERS — An international human rights group accuses Bangladesh authorities of harassing and intimidating garment worker leaders and rights activists, saying 34 have been arrested since December. By Julhas Alam. SENT: 560 words.

MONGOLIA-HARSH WINTER — Exceptionally cold weather in Mongolia is putting the livelihoods of more than 150,000 nomadic herders and family members at risk, just one year after another extreme winter killed more than 1 million animals, the Red Cross says as it launches an emergency appeal. SENT: 310 words, photos.

BUSINESS AND FINANCE:

FINANCIAL MARKETS — Global stocks turn lower as investors became cautious after a days-long run pushed U.S. indexes to record highs. By Youkyung Lee. SENT: 450 words, photos.

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