Gov't says it's target of US-based hackers
BEIJING - China's military said Thursday that overseas computer hackers targeted two of its websites an average of 144,000 times per month last year, with almost two-thirds of the attacks originating in the United States.
The claim from Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng follows accusations last week by American cybersecurity company Mandiant that Chinese military-backed cyberspies infiltrated overseas networks and stole massive amounts of data from U.S. companies and other entities. China denied the allegations, and its military said it has never supported any hacking activity.
Geng told reporters at a monthly news conference that an average of 62.9 percent of the attacks on the Defense Ministry's official website and that of its newspaper, the People's Liberation Army Daily, came from the U.S.
Troops to stay in Mali at least until July
PARIS - French troops will stay in the West African country of Mali at least until July amid tougher-than-expected resistance from Islamic fighters, officials have told The Associated Press, despite earlier government promises to begin a quick pullout within weeks.
France's leadership has painted the intervention against al-Qaida-backed radicals in Mali, which began in January, as a swift and limited one, and said France could start withdrawing its 4,000 troops in March and hand over security duties to an African force.
But the combat in rugged Sahara Desert mountains is growing harder, and there's a rising threat that the militants will turn to suicide bombings, hostage-taking and other guerrilla tactics.
Road bomb kills 9, mostly border cops
KABUL - A roadside bomb Thursday killed nine people, mostly border policemen, in Afghanistan where militants continue to target government security forces taking over from withdrawing international troops.
No one claimed responsibility, but the Taliban and other insurgents have stepped up attacks against Afghan policemen and soldiers in a bid to undermine the Western-backed government.
Afghans are increasingly taking the lead in operations as U.S. and other foreign combat forces prepare to withdraw by the end of 2014.
Gov't, militants agree to peace talks
Thailand's government signed a breakthrough deal with Muslim insurgents for the first time Thursday, agreeing to hold talks to ease nearly a decade of violence in the country's southern provinces that has killed more than 5,000 people.
The agreement was announced in Malaysia's largest city, Kuala Lumpur, between Thai authorities and the militant National Revolution Front, also known by its Malay-language initials, BRN. It is seen as a positive step but is unlikely to immediately end the conflict because several other shadowy guerrilla movements also fighting in southern Thailand have yet to agree to talks.
Simon Cowell starts online talent contest
LONDON - Simon Cowell has taken over television screens and radio airwaves around the world. Now he's taking aim at the Internet.
Cowell's Syco Entertainment empire and YouTube announced Thursday that they are launching "The You Generation," a global online talent contest that is seeking entries from people with "unconventional and original talents" - from musicians and photographers to makeup artists, magicians and chefs.
Syco says the contest will start next month and is due to run for a year. There will be prizes - exactly what they are has yet to be announced - every two weeks and a grand prize at the end of the year.