CHINA

Journalist, 71, freed from prison

A prominent 71-year-old Chinese journalist was released from prison early on health grounds on Thursday, after being held for leaking state secrets to foreigners.

Sentenced in April to a seven-year term, Gao Yu will be allowed to serve out her term outside prison because of "severe illnesses," China's state news agency reported. At the same time, her sentence was reduced Thursday to five years, after she pleaded guilty to the charges against her.

The original verdict had been condemned by human-rights groups, foreign governments, and journalists' associations.

Gao suffers from high blood pressure and chronic heart pain. Denied adequate medical care during the initial months of her incarceration, according to her family and lawyers, she suffered deteriorating health.

- Washington Post

MALI

Two held in attack

Two suspects linked to the Nov. 20 attack on the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali's capital, Bamako, were arrested, a government official said. The two were detained in Bamako's Missabougou neighborhood, Modibo Nama Traore, the officer in charge of public affairs at the presidency, said by phone Thursday. Militants linked to al-Qaeda killed at least 20 people at the hotel. - Bloomberg
PHILIPPINES

Fire engulfs homes

More than 4,000 people were left homeless after a fire engulfed a residential area in the Philippine capital Wednesday, a district fire marshal said Thursday. At least eight people were injured in the fire that leveled hundreds of houses in the city of Mandaluyong, one of several cities that are part of the national capital, said Samuel Tadeo, the fire marshal. The cause of the fire was unknown. - Bloomberg