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North Korea executes army chief of staff

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North Korea has executed its army chief of staff, Ri Yong Gil, South Korea`s Yonhap news agency reported on Wednesday, which, if true, would be the latest in a series of executions, purges and disappearances under its young leader.

The news comes amid heightened tension surrounding isolated North Korea after its Sunday launch of a long-range rocket, which came about a month after it drew international condemnation for conducting its fourth nuclear test.

A source familiar with North Korean affairs also told Reuters that Ri had been executed. The source declined to be identified, given the sensitivity of the matter.

Ri, who was chief of the Korean People`s Army (KPA) General Staff, was executed this month for corruption and factional conspiracy, Yonhap and other South Korean media reported.

Yonhap did not identify its sources. The source who told Reuters the news declined to comment on how the information about the execution had been obtained.

South Korea`s National Intelligence Service declined to comment and it was not possible to independently verify the report.

The North rarely issues public announcement related to purges or executions of high-level officials.

A rare official confirmation of a high-profile execution came after Jang Song Thaek, leader Kim Jong Un`s uncle and the man who was once considered the second most powerful figure in the country, was executed for corruption in 2013.

In May last year, the North executed its defence chief by anti-aircraft gun at a firing range, the South`s spy agency said in a report to members of parliament.

The North`s military leadership has been in a state of perpetual reshuffle since Kim Jong Un took power after the death of his father in 2011. He has changed his armed forces chief several times since then.

Some other high-ranking officials in the North have been absent from public view for extended periods, fuelling speculation they may have been purged or removed, only to resurfac

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Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Germany approach 90,000

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Berlin, April 5 More than 89,300 COVID-19 cases and at least 1,250 deaths have been registered as of Saturday afternoon across Germany, according to evaluations of a local media outlet which took into account the latest figures from all federal states.

The confirmed cases increased by 5,600 from the previous day, and the deaths by 147, Xinhua reported.

Helge Braun, head of the Federal Chancellery, told the Saturday edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine that the peak of the COVID-19 crisis in Germany has not yet been reached, and “the time with the highest infection numbers is still ahead of us.”

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Iran urges EU to defy US sanctions amid COVID-19 pandemic

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday censured US for maintaining its sanctions against Iran despite the outbreak of COVID-19 across the country.

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

Tehran, April 5 : Iran’s envoy to Belgium on Saturday asked the European Union to oppose US sanctions on Iran amid the surge of COVID-19 pandemic, state TV reported.

The “unilateral and illegal sanctions imposed by the United States on Iran under the guise of its maximum pressure campaign undermine the country’s ability to effectively battle the virus without any international support in the long run,” Gholam Hossein Dehqani said in a letter to Josep Borrell, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Xinhua reported.

Dehqani urged the European Union to defy “the inhumane” US sanctions as they infringe on the ordinary citizens’ rights to meet their basic needs.

On Friday, Iran’s envoy to the UN office in Geneva Esmaeil Baqaei Hamaneh said that the US “cruel and illegal” sanctions against Iran have resulted in difficulties for ordinary Iranians’ access to medicine and medical equipment and services as the country is engaged in the combat with the novel coronavirus.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday censured US for maintaining its sanctions against Iran despite the outbreak of COVID-19 across the country.

Iran’s health ministry on Saturday announced 55,743 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country and a total of 3,452 deaths.

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CoronaVirus: US COVID-19 deaths surpass 8,000

Globally, the death toll is more than 59,100, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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Donald Trump

The total deaths of COVID-19 in the US topped 8,000 as of 2.30 p.m. on Saturday (local time), according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.

President Donald Trump said at the daily White House coronavirus press briefing on Saturday, “This will be the toughest week” in the U.S. fight against the pandemic.

“There will be a lot of death, unfortunately,” he said.

The president’s comments came as the total number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. rose to over 300,000, with the number of deaths at more than 8,000, according to NBC News’ tally.

Globally, the death toll is more than 59,100, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The CDC is recommending now that Americans wear cloth masks when out in public. And, New York, by far the hardest-hit state, is gearing up for the pandemic to peak there in an expected in four to 10 days. China is donating 1,000 ventilators to the state, and another 140 are coming from Oregon.

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