IRAQ

'Friendly fire' attack reported

An air strike by U.S.-led coalition planes hit Iraqi army forces, the Iraqi military said on Friday, the first time it has reported a friendly fire incident since American jets began bombing Islamic State militants in the country last year.

In a statement, the Iraqi Defense Ministry said one Iraqi officer was killed and nine were injured in the incident near Amariyat al-Fallujah, west of Baghdad. Brig. Gen. Yayha Rasoul, a spokesman for the Iraqi military, confirmed the statement.

Iraqi air force planes had been hampered as they tried to support ground troops due to poor weather conditions, the statement said, so assistance was requested from the U.S.-led coalition.

Two airstrikes hit Islamic State fighters and "caused many casualties in the ranks of the enemy," the statement said. Iraqi forces then moved forward. "The distance between our forces and the enemy was very close, meters," the statement said. "Our forces got mixed."

- Washington Post
JAPAN

Two are executed by hanging

Japan executed two people by hanging on Friday, including one who was convicted in a jury trial for the first time under a new system that began six years ago.

Sumitoshi Tsuda was found guilty of killing three people in 2009, and Kazuyuki Wakabayashi was convicted of killing a woman and her daughter in 2006.

Tsuda was the first to be executed after a jury trial. Jury trials are in addition to trials conducted by judges only, which used to be standard in Japan.

The Justice Ministry said Tsuda was put to death in a Tokyo facility, while Wakabayashi was executed in Sendai. Amnesty International criticized the executions, saying 14 people have now been put to death under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. - AP
CHINA

Another smog alert for Beijing

China's capital Beijing issued its second smog red alert of the month, triggering vehicle restrictions and forcing schools to close.

A wave of smog is due to settle over the city of 22.5 million from Saturday to Tuesday. Levels of PM2.5, the smallest and deadliest airborne particles, are set to top 500, according to the official Beijing government website. That is more than 20 times the level that is considered safe by the World Health Organization.

Half the city's cars will be forced off the road on any given day, while barbecue grills and other outdoor smoke sources will be banned and factory production restricted. Schools will close and residents advised to avoid outdoor activities.

Although the four-tier smog warning system was launched two years ago, Beijing had not issued a red alert until last week, drawing accusations that it was ignoring serious bouts of smog to avoid the economic costs. - AP