Top Asian News 3:48 a.m. GMT

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A South Korean lawmaker says North Korean hackers stole highly classified military documents that include U.S.-South Korean wartime "decapitation strike" plans against the North Korean leadership. The United States, meanwhile, staged another show of force meant to deter any North Korean aggression by flying two B-1B supersonic bombers Tuesday night from an air base in the U.S. territory of Guam to the South for drills with South Korean jets. Such flights by the powerful aircraft based in Guam incense the North, which claims they are preparation for war; Pyongyang has threatened to send missiles into the waters around Guam.

TOKYO (AP) — The commander and executive officer of the USS John S. McCain were relieved of their duties Wednesday due to lost confidence after the warship and an oil tanker collided near Singapore in August. The cause of the Aug. 21 collision is still under investigation but the U.S. Navy described it as preventable. The Navy statement said Cmdr. Alfredo J. Sanchez and the ship's executive officer, Cmdr. Jessie L. Sanchez, were reassigned. The crash killed 10 U.S. sailors and injured five more. It was one of several accidents in the region that raised concern over the safety and operational effectiveness of U.S.

SHAH ALAM, Malaysia (AP) — The Vietnamese suspect in the assassination of the estranged half brother of North Korea's leader was seen on airport security video presented in court Wednesday smearing something on a person's face two days before Kim Jong Nam was killed in that manner. The footage showed Doan Thi Huong running toward a person from behind and wiping his face, then clasping her hands and slightly bowing before moving away. Describing other security videos the day of the murder, police officer Wan Azirul Nizam Che Wan Aziz testified Huong was more "aggressive" when she approached Kim Jong Nam compared to the practice incident.

TEKNAF, Bangladesh (AP) — Yosar Hossein struggles as he walks along muddy paths and flooded creeks in Bangladesh, carrying his baby sister on his back. Barefoot and still wearing his school uniform, the 7-year-old is among more than a half million Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence in neighboring Myanmar. Nearly two-thirds are children. "She is very heavy," says Yosar, who in the last two weeks has lost his father, his house and his country. "I don't think I can carry her all the way." The exodus from predominantly Buddhist Myanmar is the biggest the region has seen in decades, leaving this corner of Bangladesh overrun with tent cities of desperate refugees.

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka police on Tuesday arrested three prominent opposition lawmakers, including the son of a former president, for leading a protest against government plans to privatize an airport that is named after the ex-strongman. Namal Rajapaksa, son of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, was arrested Tuesday with two other lawmakers, police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said. Police previously arrested 28 people following last Friday's protest. Opposition supporters clashed with police, who fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of demonstrators opposing the government's plans to privatize Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport. The government has said the $210 million (US dollars) airport, funded by a Chinese loan, is a white elephant built during Rajapaksa's regime and that it was considering selling shares to an Indian investor.

TOKYO (AP) — The Japan labor standard office has determined the suicide of a 23-year-old man who worked at Tokyo's new Olympic stadium construction site stemmed from overwork, and his family was eligible for government compensation. Hiroshi Kawahito, a lawyer representing the victim's family, said on Tuesday the victim, in charge of quality control of materials at the stadium site, recorded 190 hours of overtime in one month before killing himself in March, according to Japan's NHK public television. The worker was less than a year on the job. The amount of overtime was way over 80 hours, a threshold for karoshi, or death from overwork.

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan (AP) — Turkmenistan's president on Tuesday ordered an end to free natural gas, electricity and water, which residents of the ex-Soviet nation have enjoyed for a quarter century. Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov said the move would encourage a more rational use of the Central Asian nation's resources. The decision comes as the gas-rich desert nation has faced economic troubles because of a slump in global energy prices. Berdymukhamedov has ruled Turkmenistan since late 2006, when he assumed power after the death of his eccentric autocratic predecessor, who had named the months of the year after his family members. Berdymukhamedov has established an elaborate personality cult of his own, with state media showing his prowess in an array of physical disciplines, including horse riding, racing cars, cycling and lifting weights.

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Tuesday said her government will defend the self-governing island's freedoms and democratic system amid heightened tensions with rival China, and renewed calls for dialogue that Beijing suspended more than a year ago. China dismissed the appeal, saying talks could only resume after Tsai endorses Beijing's position that Taiwan is Chinese territory. In an annual National Day address, Tsai also repeated her position that Taiwan will continue to extend "goodwill" to China, but would neither buckle under Beijing's pressure nor pursue confrontation. China cut off contact with Tsai's government shortly after her inauguration last year after she declined to back the "one-China principle." Beijing threatens to use force to seize control of the island and has steadily increased diplomatic and economic pressure on Taipei in an attempt to compel Tsai to change her stance.

BANGKOK (AP) — More than three years after seizing power in a coup, the head of Thailand's military government on Tuesday promised elections in November next year. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters that his government will give the exact election day in mid-2018. "Around June 2018, we will announce an election date," he said. "And around November, we will hold the elections." Thailand's military seized power in 2014 and has postponed several deadlines for elections, citing national security concerns and the need to pass new election laws. The junta has said it needs to reform Thailand's political system to root out money politics, but the reforms are widely seen as an attempt to prevent a comeback by former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's political machine.

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis will wade into the religious and political minefield of Myanmar's crackdown on Rohingya Muslims and the effects of their exodus to Bangladesh when he visits both countries next month. The Vatican on Tuesday released the itinerary for the Nov. 26-Dec. 2 trip, which has taken on greater visibility since Myanmar security forces responded to Rohingya militant attacks with a broad crackdown in August. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh in what the United Nations has called "textbook ethnic cleansing." The itinerary makes no mention of a papal meeting with Rohingya in either country.

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