World News Brief, Thursday March 22

French police in armed standoff with man suspected of killings at Jewish school; Obama to visit Korean border ahead of nuclear summit in Seoul; Myanmar invites US and EU to send observers for parliamentary byelections; Somali pirates free British hostage; Peru cancels UK Royal Navy visit; and more

Top of the Agenda: French Police in Standoff with Shooting Suspect

French police have been in an armed standoff outside an apartment building in Toulouse, where a man suspected of gunning down an adult and three children at a Jewish school on Monday is holed up. The twenty-four-year-old French national, identified by a police official as Mohammed Merah, is also suspected of killing three French soldiers in two separate incidents last week. In negotiations with police, the suspect claimed to have ties with al-Qaeda (WSJ) and said the murders at the Jewish school were to "avenge the death of Palestinian children," according to French Interior Minister Claude Guéant. At least two policemen were injured by gunshots fired by the suspect from inside his apartment early this morning. Police indicated the suspect could surrender this afternoon (NYT).


"The appalling murders of this week are likely to soften candidates' discourse, according to political analyst Dominique Reynié. 'What will change in the campaign is the violent tone. We will as a result be able to discuss real issues,' he says. 'I think that politicians who fail to respect that change of tone will be punished,'" writes the Telegraph's Henry Samuel.

"For a couple of days, political life in France is at a standstill. The election campaign has (almost) gone quiet, and most of the presidential candidates have asserted their commitment to France's shared values in a republican consensus. The massacre at a Jewish school in Toulouse and the killing of three soldiers in the region has united the nation in mourning," notes an editorial in Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.



Obama to Visit Korean Border

U.S. President Barack Obama will visit the demilitarized zone that separates North and South Korea on Sunday for the first time, ahead of an international nuclear summit in Seoul (CNN). The trip also comes amid rising tensions between the two Koreas over North Korea's planned rocket launch next month.

This CFR Crisis Guide provides an interactive, multimedia overview of the dispute between North and South Korea.

MYANMAR: The military-backed government invited the United States and the European Union to send monitors (BBC) to observe Myanmar's parliamentary by-elections in April, in which pro-democracy opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is set to run.


Somali pirates free British hostage

Peru cancels UK Royal Navy visit


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