Top Asian News 6:45 a.m. GMT

PATHANKOT, India (AP) — The number of troops killed in an attack on an Indian air force base has risen to six after four soldiers succumbed to injuries sustained in the hourslong gunbattle near the border with Pakistan, officials said Sunday. Four suspected militants were also killed in the fighting. Air force spokeswoman Rochelle D’Silva said that combing operations to secure the Pathankot air force base were continuing by late Sunday morning. Officials gave no other details about the situation at the base. Earlier in the day, at least one grenade blast was heard from inside the base, but officials declined to comment.

Saudi Arabia cuts ties with Iran as row over cleric’s death escalates

Protesters holding pictures of Shi'ite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr are pushed back by Iranian riot police during a demonstration against the execution of Nimr in Saudi Arabia, outside the Saudi Arabian Embassy in TehranBy Sam Wilkin and Angus McDowall DUBAI/RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia cut ties with Iran on Sunday, responding to the storming of its embassy in Tehran in an escalating row between the rival Middle East powers over Riyadh's execution of a Shi'ite Muslim cleric. Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told a news conference in Riyadh that the envoy of Shi'ite Iran had been asked to quit Saudi Arabia within 48 hours. Iranian protesters stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran early on Sunday and Shi'ite Iran's top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, predicted "divine vengeance" for the execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, an outspoken opponent of the ruling Al Saudi family.


U.N. chief ‘deeply dismayed’ by Saudi executions, calls for restraint

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Saturday he was “deeply dismayed” by the execution of a prominent Shi’ite Muslim cleric and 46 other people in Saudi Arabia and called for calm and restraint. Saudi Arabia executed cleric Nimr al-Nimr and dozens of al Qaeda members on Saturday, signaling it would not tolerate attacks, whether by Sunni jihadists or minority Shi’ites. “Sheik al-Nimr and a number of the other prisoners executed had been convicted following trials that raised serious concerns over the nature of the charges and the fairness of the process,” Ban’s spokesman said in a statement.

U.S. concerned execution of Nimr will exacerbate sectarian tensions

By Patricia Zengerle WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government expressed concern on Saturday that Saudi Arabia’s execution of a prominent Shi’ite cleric, could exacerbate sectarian tensions, and urged all leaders in the Middle East to “redouble efforts” to de-escalate regional tensions. “We reaffirm our calls on the Government of Saudi Arabia to respect and protect human rights, and to ensure fair and transparent judicial proceedings in all cases,” John Kirby, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, said in a statement, after the execution of Nimr al-Nimr and 46 other people.

Tel Aviv shooting: Schools to reopen under heavy security

צילום: AP

The manhunt for Nashat Melhem, the suspect in the Tel Aviv shooting, continues at full stretch and his brother’s arrest has been extended by five days. Pupils will return to their studies in Tel Aviv on Sunday under heavy security and parents have been told not to send their children to school if they feel it isn’t safe.

Vatican accord with Palestine comes into effect

Pope Francis embraces Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the end of the ceremony for the canonisation of four nuns at Saint Peter's square in the Vatican CityAn agreement signed last year making the Vatican's de facto recognition of Palestine in 2012 official has come into effect, the Holy See said on Saturday. The Vatican signed its first treaty with the "State of Palestine" last June when it called for moves to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and backed a two-state solution. "… the Holy See and the State of Palestine have notified each other that the procedural requirements for (the accord's) entry into force have been fulfilled, the Vatican said in a statement on Saturday.


Shi’ite cleric among 47 executed in Saudi Arabia, stirring anger in region

Saudi Shiite protestors take part in a demonstration against the death sentence on prominent Saudi Shiite cleric and anti-government protest leader Nimr al-NimrBy Angus McDowall RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia executed a prominent Shi'ite Muslim cleric and dozens of al Qaeda members on Saturday, signaling that it would not tolerate attacks, whether by Sunni jihadists or minority Shi'ites, and stirring sectarian anger across the region. Hundreds of Shi'ite Muslims marched through Qatif district in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province in protest at the execution of cleric Nimr al-Nimr, an eyewitness said. Nimr, the most vocal critic of the dynasty among the Shi'ite minority, had come to be seen as a leader of the sect's younger activists, who rejected the quiet approach of older community leaders for failing to achieve equality with Sunnis.