North Korean officials announced Friday that the country would be holding a US student in detention for committing an unspecified “hostile act” while visiting.
North Korea’s state news, Korean Central News Agency, accused University of Virginia undergraduate student Otto Frederick Warmbier of being an asset manipulated by the United States. Reporters said that Warmbier entered the country “for the purpose of bringing down the foundation of its single-minded unity.”
Warmbier was detained at Pyongyang Sunan International Airport on January 2 after passing through customs in preparation to leave the country.
North Korea has detained several American tourists and missionaries in recent years, in what some think is a move to gain diplomatic leverage in the ongoing tensions with the United States.
US State Department spokesman John Kirby said that the United States was working with the Swedish Embassy to ensure the welfare of Warmbier, since the United States and North Korea have no diplomatic ties.
After North Korea’s latest nuclear test on January 6, the United States is seeking renewed sanctions against the country, which will undoubtedly complicate an agreement to release Warmbier.
The United Nations Security Council elected on Wednesday to reduce the number of UN peacekeepers in Ivory Coast, citing a significant increase in stability following the civil war which erupted in 2011.
The resolution to reduce the amount of peacekeepers from 5,437 to 4,000 by the end of March 2016 was unanimously approved by the 15-nation council.
The resolution follows Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara’s re-election in October 2015. Ivory Coast emerged from years of political turmoil in 2011 following a brief civil war when former President Laurent Gbagbo refused to recognize Ouattara’s victory in the 2010 election.
At least 21 people were killed and more than 50 injured on Wednesday when four assailants attacked Bacha Khan University in Peshawar, Pakistan.
In an official statement, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that the government is “determined and resolved in our commitment to wipe out the menace of terrorism from our homeland.”
The assailants were killed in a gun battle with Pakistani security forces before they could detonate their explosives-laden suicide vests. They opened fire on students and faculty members as they gathered at the university for a poetry recital to commemorate the death anniversary of an activist for whom the school is named after.
The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack via calls to media and a post on its Facebook page, saying that the attack was in response to the December execution of four Taliban members convicted in aiding the 2014 Peshawar school attackers.
Attacks on educational institutions have long been the modus operandi of the Pakistani Taliban, having set schools on fire, banished girls from school and shot students at their desks in an attempt to impose their extremist religious ideology.