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A string of explosions rocked Brussels airport and a city metro station on Tuesday, killing at least 13 people, according to media reports, as Belgium raised its terror threat to the maximum level.

Two explosions targeted the main hall of Zaventem Airport at around 8:00 am (0700 GMT), with a third hitting the Maalbeek metro station, near the European Union's main buildings, just as commuters were making their way to work in rush hour.

Belgian media reports said at least 13 people had been killed and 35 injured at the airport, while an AFP reporter said at least 15 people with bloodied faces were being treated by emergency services outside the metro station.

The blasts come days after the dramatic arrest in Brussels on Friday of Salah Abdeslam, the prime suspect in the Paris terror attacks that killed 130 people in November, after four months on the run.

There were chaotic scenes at the airport as passengers fled in panic, with a thick plume of smoke rising from the main terminal building.

The blasts smashed the windows of the departure hall and sent ceiling tiles shattering to the floor.


An experimental vaccine against dengue, the world's most common mosquito-borne virus, was 100 percent effective in early trials and could speed up the pace of a vaccine against Zika, researchers said Wednesday.

Dengue -- which is in the same family of flaviviruses as Zika -- infects some 390 million people each year in more than 120 countries of the world.

Dengue symptoms are often mild, but more than two million people annually develop dengue hemorrhagic fever -- which can involve severe headaches, pain behind the eyes, rash, pain in the joints, muscles or bones pain, and leaking blood vessels.

More than 25,000 people die of dengue hemorrhagic fever each year.

"Knowing what we know about this new vaccine, we are confident that it is going to work," said lead author Anna Durbin, associate professor in International Health at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University.

"And we have to be confident: Dengue is unique and if you don't do it right, you can do more harm than good."

- Four strains -

The vaccine candidate, known as TV003, was tested in a group of 48 people -- half of whom received the vaccine, with the other half given a placebo.

TV003 is made by researchers at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) from a mixture of four weakened but live viruses, targeted to each of the four serotypes of dengue.

Six months after vaccination, the two groups were exposed to a weakened form of dengue serotype 2 virus, the hardest of the four dengue strains to prevent.

Previous research on TV003, which has been in development for 15 years, had shown it worked well at preventing dengue 1, 3 and 4 viruses.

However, the "portion of the vaccine that was designed to prevent dengue 2 did not induce as strong an immune response in people as the other three components," said a statement from Johns Hopkins.




A hardline Indian Hindu movement announced Sunday it was abandoning its trademark khaki shorts to try to modernise the dress code, 91 years after adopting the austere military-style uniform.

Foot soldiers of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) are often seen after dawn across India engaged in physical drills and uttering religious chants -- dressed in pleated shorts, white shirts and black hats.

But RSS general secretary Suresh Bhaiyyaji Joshi acknowledged that the organisation, the ideological fountainhead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling party, must keep in step with a modern, changing world.

"We have decided to replace khaki half-pants with brown pants. We are not rigid and take decisions according to the times," Joshi told reporters at a three-day meeting of the group's top decision-making body.



Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron are partly to blame for the current “mess” in Libya, US President Barack Obama has said in comments likely to upset two of his country’s closest allies. In an extensive interview with The Atlantic magazine published Thursday, President Obama discussed the conditions surrounding the 2011 British and French-led NATO bombing campaign that led to the end of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s 41-year-rule.

While the military intervention succeeded in ousting the dictator, the power vacuum it created has seen Libya descend into near-anarchy, ruled by rival militias vying for power while the Islamic State group has gained influence in the country. Obama believes that while deeper than expected Libyan “tribal divisions” are partly to blame, it was largely the failure of France and the UK to “follow-up” on the bombing campaign that led to the current situation. “There's room for criticism because I had more faith in the Europeans, given Libya's proximity, being invested in the follow-up,” he told the magazine.

Sarkozy wanted to ‘trumpet’ own role

Cameron stopped paying attention soon after the military operation, he said, becoming "distracted by a range of other things". Meanwhile, Sarkozy was more interested in promoting the importance of his own role in bringing an end to Gaddafi’s rule, Obama seemed to suggest. “Sarkozy wanted to trumpet the flights he was taking in the air campaign, despite the fact that we had wiped out all the air defences and essentially set up the entire infrastructure [for the intervention],” the US president said.


Agence France-Presse has launched a weekly series of reporters' blogs taking readers behind the scenes of the 2016 US election for a look at the events and attitudes shaping the White House race.

The sixth post in the series comes from the economically depressed northern city of Flint, Michigan, where a scandal has erupted over drinking water contaminated with lead and officials' subsequent attempts to hush up the health scare.

Flint, a black majority city of about 100,000 people that once relied heavily on the auto industry, may only be a 90-minute hop on a plane from Washington, but the difference is stark.

We leave the US capital -- its tidy streets, well-dressed government officials and organic salads -- to find a declining city where hopes are limited for many to just clean water, a stable job and something approaching decent health insurance coverage.


So when the people of Flint voted on Tuesday in the Michigan presidential primary, their minds were more on the poison spewing from their taps than who might win the Republican and Democratic nomination (in the event, Donald Trump was victorious for the Republicans in the state and Bernie Sanders scored a surprise win over Hillary Clinton in the Democratic race).

Flint residents were glad in a sense to be in the spotlight, a chance to tell their story and highlight their plight. More than once they thanked us journalists for being there, to give them a voice.

Plastic bottles of water seem to be everywhere in Flint. They pile up outside homes, nestled on the ground, buried in snow.

These bottles have become Flint's lifeblood: the only way to cook, brush teeth. Soldiers and volunteers trudge through the snow distributing bottles for free, dropping them off at homes where life sometimes barely appears to flicker inside.




Beijing has surpassed New York City to become the "billionaire capital of the world" with 100 resident billionaires to the US business and cultural capital's 95, a survey showed.

The number of Beijing billionaires rose by 32 from last year, while New York's tally rose by just four, according to the Hurun Report, a China-based publisher of luxury magazines and compiler of an annual list of the country's richest people.

Moscow came in third, with 66 billionaires.

"Despite its own slowdown and falling stock markets, China minted more new billionaires than any other country in the world last year, mainly on the back of new listings," said Rupert Hoogewerf, its chairman and chief researcher.



Global banking giant HSBC on Monday reported a shock pre-tax loss in the last quarter of 2015 with results for the year missing analysts' expectations, as it grapples with "seismic shifts" in the world economy.

HSBC last year announced a radical overhaul of its business to cut costs that included shedding 50,000 jobs worldwide, exiting unprofitable businesses and focusing more on Asia.

Like many global banks, HSBC is combating turmoil in global financial markets that has seen stocks and commodities plunge, while stricter regulations have driven up costs.

Last week Europe's largest bank said it would keep its headquarters in London, despite concerns about growing regulation in Britain and an upcoming vote on whether it could leave the European Union.

Net profit for 2015 dropped 1.2 percent to $13.52 billion from the previous year, HSBC said in a filing Monday, while pre-tax profit of $18.9 billion missed analysts' forecast of $21.8 billion.




Austria's combative interior minister on Saturday rejected EU criticism of its cap of 80 asylum claims per day, saying a letter of complaint to her from the bloc's migration commissioner was "sent to the wrong address".

"It should be generally known that Austria does not have an external EU border and is therefore not the first safe country that these people (migrants) set foot in," Johanna Mikl-Leitner told the Austria Press Agency (APA).

"If everybody stuck to the content of the letter (from migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos), then Austria would not have a problem with it. But the letter was clearly sent to the wrong address," Mikl-Leitner said.

Instead, the complaints should be sent to safe countries that the migrants pass through on their way to Austria, she said, in a reference in particular to Greece, the main entry point in the European Union for migrants.

In 2015, over one million people reached Europe's shores -- nearly half of them Syrians fleeing the civil war -- causing the bloc a major political headache.


Austria last year took in 90,000 asylum seekers, making it one of the highest recipients in the EU on a per-capita basis, while almost 10 times that number passed through, mostly to Germany and Sweden.

Faced with a resurgent far-right opposition topping opinion polls, Austria's centrist government this week imposed the new cap and said only 3,200 migrants could pass through per day.

Border controls are being tightened and the government wants only 37,500 asylum claims this year.




In the latest crackdown on gay rights in Indonesia, the government has demanded all instant messaging apps remove same-sex emoticons or face a ban in the Muslim-majority country.

The emojis -- which are available on the popular apps LINE and Whatsapp as well as Facebook and Twitter -- depict same-sex couples holding hands and the rainbow flag, commonly used to symbolise the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

"Such contents are not allowed in Indonesia based on our cultural law and the religious norms and the operators must respect that," Ismail Cawidu, spokesman for the Communication and Information Ministry, told AFP Friday.

He said of particular concern was that the colourful emojis and stickers could appeal to children.

"Those things might be considered normal in some Western countries, while in Indonesia it's practically impossible," he said.

Cawidu said the ministry had contacted all companies that used such content, including Twitter and Facebook, and failure to comply with the request to remove the emojis could lead to the apps being banned in Indonesia.





Pope Francis on Wednesday revealed plans for a new "match for peace" as he met Ronaldinho and other football stars at the Vatican.

The charity match will be staged at Rome's Olympic Stadium on May 29, the day after the Champions League final in Milan.

The first match for peace took place in 2014 and featured Ronaldinho, Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona and a host of other top players or former players.