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Arab Coalition warns of targeting Houthi-controlled ports after Emirati vessel seized

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The Arab Coalition demanded on Tuesday Houthis immediately release the seized Emirati vessel “Rawabi” with its full cargo, and if the Houthis don’t comply, then any of the ports they use for launching maritime piracy and armed robbery attacks will become legitimate military targets.

Spokesman Brigadier General Turki al-Maliki said the attack was a criminal act by the Iran-backed Houthi militias, launched from Hodeidah port to intercept a commercial ship in international waters, according to state news agency SPA.

He added that “Rawabi” carried medical field equipment and supplies for the Saudi field hospital on Socotra Island.

Maliki warned the Houthis against violating maritime laws and described their actions as “terrorist acts” which undermine the security of waterways and directly threaten maritime navigation and global trade.

The UAE flagged ship “Rawabi” was hijacked on Sunday on its way to the port of Jazan in Saudi Arabia.

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Snowstorms, cold and fire threaten displaced Syrians in northern camps

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Five-year-old Intissar and her younger sister Lin were sheltering from northern Syria’s bitter winter cold when fuel from a heater ignited their tent, killing them and seriously injuring their mother.

The young family and other displaced Syrians were living near the Turkish border in a camp of more than 400 tents, which offer little protection from snowstorms and plunging temperatures which struck in recent days.

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The cold snap has brought chaos to traffic and flights in neighboring countries but its effects are most severe in northwest Syria, where 3 million people have been left homeless in a long-running humanitarian crisis.

Many have been displaced several times by the 11-year war.

“People in the camp are suffering. The tents don’t protect from the cold,” said Nouredin al-Abdullah, whose cousin Ahmed is the father of the girls who died. “If you think about heating, God forbid, you and your children may go (the same way).”

He said the latest snowfall was the heaviest he had seen.

The weight of the snow has collapsed many tents, while water seeped underneath them.

Across the region, food supplies and health services have been disrupted and relief workers are struggling to reach some of the 300 worst affected sites, said Mark Cutts, U.N. deputy regional humanitarian coordinator for Syria.

“The numbers are just staggering, and it is very difficult to provide people with all the support they need,” he said. Desperate to stay warm, people were burning cardboard and plastic bottles, and then inhaling toxic fumes.

“Even more suffering is caused because of the lack of fuel for heating,” he told Reuters, adding that at least one child had died from the freezing cold.

“There are more than 1 million people still living in tents or substandard accommodation,” Cutts said. “It’s becoming increasingly urgent that we get people out of these tents.”

Read more: Syrian prison battle death toll tops 150, concern over fate of minors

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Gunmen kill Pakistani policeman guarding polio workers

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Gunmen shot and killed a Pakistani policeman who was providing security for polio vaccination workers in the northwest on Tuesday, according to police.

The assailants fled the scene, and no one claimed responsibility for the attack in Kohat, local police official Dikdar Khan said. He added that the body of the slain policeman had been transported to a hospital.

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No polio workers were harmed in the attack, police said, a day after Pakistan launched a nationwide anti-polio campaign.

Militants in Pakistan often target polio teams and police assigned to protect them, falsely claiming the vaccination campaigns are a Western conspiracy to sterilize children. Militants have claimed responsibility for previous attacks across the country.

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At least seven Bangladeshi migrants on boat to Italy’s Lampedusa die of hypothermia

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Seven Bangladeshi migrants who were on a boat from Libya heading for the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa have died of hypothermia, Agrigento Prosecutor Luigi Patronaggio said in a statement on Tuesday.

The coastguard saw the boat overnight some 18 miles (29 kilometers) off the coast of Lampione, an uninhabited island near Lampedusa, and rescue operations were conducted, the prosecutor said. His office has opened an inquiry into alleged abetting of illegal migration and manslaughter, he added.

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Lampedusa Mayor Salvatore Martello confirmed the death toll, adding the vessel was carrying 280 migrants, mainly from Bangladesh and Egypt.

Italy, a major route into Europe for hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers and other migrants, has seen an increase in migrant boats in recent months.

As of January 24, 1,751 migrants have disembarked in Italy’s ports so far this year, according to government data.

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