Police identify suspect in sex-blackmail ring

South Korean police took the rare step of identifying and parading the suspected leader of a sexual blackmail ring in front of the press and protesters on Wednesday, after the case triggered a national uproar.

The police asked prosecutors on Wednesday to indict 24-year-old Cho Joo-bin on suspicion of blackmailing at least 74 women, including 16 minors, into producing sexually degrading videos of themselves and then posting them in pay-to-view chat rooms.

The allegations prompted an outcry in South Korea over a growing spate of online postings of illegal sexual images obtained through blackmail or filmed secretly — a practice that critics say is aggravated by a lack of respect for women, as well as weak laws and penalties.

The National Police Agency said it decided to publicly reveal Cho’s identity in hopes of deterring similar offenses. It cited “his malicious and repetitive criminal method that forced sexually abusive videos out of women whom he labeled slaves.”

Law enforcement authorities in South Korea usually refrain from personally identifying suspects on grounds of privacy rights and possible effects on their family members.

Cho is accused of luring the women through fake ads for high-paying jobs and then blackmailing them into sending sexual images of themselves, local media reported, citing police.

He allegedly obtained personal information on the women with help from workers at local government offices, then used the information to threaten the women, local media reported.

— Min Joo Kim


Boko Haram militants kill at least 92 troops

Boko Haram extremists have killed at least 92 soldiers in the deadliest attack ever on Chad’s forces, the nation’s president said.

The attack occurred overnight Sunday into Monday in the village of Boma in Lac province near the border with Nigeria and Niger.

President Idriss Déby gave the toll on state television late Tuesday after visiting the site.

“Never in our history have we lost so many men at one time,” he said.

Boko Haram extremists have killed tens of thousands and forced millions from their homes during their insurgency, which has lasted more than a decade. They have carried out numerous attacks in the Lake Chad region, where Cameroon, Chad, Nigeria and Niger come together.

The Islamist extremist group also killed 50 Nigerian soldiers on Monday in an attack in Yobe state in Nigeria’s north.

— Associated Press


Battles between rival authorities escalate

Clashes between rival forces for control of Tripoli escalated Wednesday as militias allied with the U.N.-supported government in the Libyan capital launched an offensive on a military base held by their rivals, officials said.

The renewed fighting comes despite increased international pressure on both sides to halt the violence over concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus. Libya reported its first case of the virus on Tuesday.

The fighting has been raging for nearly a year between military commander Khalifa Hifter’s forces, allied with a rival government based in eastern Libya, and an array of militias loosely linked to Tripoli authorities in the west.

Ossama Gowelii, who heads the joint operation room of the Tripoli militias, said they attacked al-Watiya air base on the city’s southern reaches, clashing with Hifter’s forces holding the base.

Overnight artillery shelling rocked several areas of Tripoli, Gowelii said, adding that their offensive came in response to the shelling. The attack on the air base is likely to give Hifter’s forces an excuse to push back against international pressure to stop the fighting and focus on efforts against the coronavirus.

Hifter’s forces launched his offensive on Tripoli in April.

— Associated Press

Danes charge man in plot to kill Iranian opposition member: A 40-year-old Norwegian citizen of Iranian descent has been charged with helping an unnamed Iranian intelligence service carry out a plot on Danish soil to kill an Iranian opposition activist, a prosecutor said. Lise-Lotte Nilas said the man, who was not identified, is suspected of gathering information that, according to the investigation, was to be used to carry out a killing in Denmark. The suspect has denied wrongdoing. He was arrested in Sweden and extradited to Denmark.

— From news services