International news brief: Salman Rushdie attacker says 'surprised' author survived and more
Washington, Aug 18: Days after author Salman Rushdie suffered serious stab wounds after he was assaulted in New York, the man - accused of attacking him - has said that he was surprised that Rushdie survived. "When I heard he survived, I was surprised, I guess," 24-year-old Hadi Matar told the New York Post.
The US government plans talks with Taiwan on a wide-ranging trade treaty in a sign of support for the self-ruled island democracy claimed by China's ruling Communist Party as part of its territory.
The announcement on Thursday comes after Beijing held military drills that included firing missiles into the sea to intimidate Taiwan following this month's visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The man charged with stabbing Salman Rushdie on a lecture stage in western New York said in an interview that he was surprised to learn the accomplished author had survived the attack.
Speaking to the New York Post from jail, Hadi Matar said he decided to see Rushdie at the Chautauqua Institution after he saw a tweet last winter about the writer's planned appearance.
Matar was born in the US but holds dual citizenship in Lebanon, where his parents were born. His mother has told reporters in interviews that Matar came back changed from a visit to see his father in Lebanon in 2018. After that, he became moody and withdrew from his family, she said.
Heavy rain continued to pelt New Zealand on Thursday, causing further disruptions and road closures from a storm that has already forced hundreds of people to evacuate their homes.
Residents in the northern part of North Island found themselves isolated after landslides, fallen trees and floodwaters blocked highway access. The stormy weather also forced some schools to close, airlines to cancel flights and business to shutter. The storm sunk at least one sailboat near Auckland and caused a home to slip down into a gully in the town of Tahunanui. About 230 homes in the town of Nelson were evacuated Wednesday and remained off-limits overnight after the Maitai River flooded.
A bombing at a mosque in the Afghan capital of Kabul during evening prayers on Wednesday killed at least 10 people, including a prominent cleric, and wounded at least 27, an eyewitness and police said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, the latest to strike the country in the year since the Taliban seized power. Several children were reported to be among the wounded.
The Islamic State group's local affiliate has stepped up attacks targeting the Taliban and civilians since the former insurgents' takeover last August as US and NATO troops were in the final stages of their withdrawal from the country. Last week, the IS claimed responsibility for killing a prominent Taliban cleric at his religious center in Kabul.
Canada minister: Not safe yet for Syrian refugees to go home
Syria is not safe yet for millions of refugees to start going back home, a Canadian minister cautioned during a visit to Lebanon on Wednesday. He spoke days after Lebanese officials announced a plan to start returning 15,000 Syrian refugees to their war-shattered country every month.
The remarks by Harjit Sajjan, Canada's minister of international development, followed his tour of the region that also took him to Jordan, where he visited Syrian refugees living in tent settlements.