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World in brief: June 16, 2024

IRAQ: Counter-terrorism commando units established to fight Islamic State are now being deployed to defend KFC and McDonald’s.

US chains have faced public boycotts and attacks since Israel invaded Gaza with US support late last year, and now special forces are responding to emergencies like stun grenades hurled at burger outlets or a crowd mobbing KFC last month telling diners to leave.

“It feels weird to be deployed to protect a restaurant,” one commando told the Washington Post.

RUSSIA: An unknown number were killed when security forces stormed a prison in Rostov-on-Don today to free hostages taken by some of the inmates.

The prison service said the hostage-takers had been “liquidated” by the police, with state media channel RT linking them to the Islamic State terrorist group. Local media reported that some other prisoners were killed, without saying how many.

PACIFIC: Panda diplomacy is back as Chinese Prime Minister Li Qiang has offered Australia more pandas in return for defusing tensions.

Since Labour Prime Minister Anthony Albanese took over, China has relaxed crippling tariffs on Australian wine and hopes to discourage it from total alignment with Washington against Beijing.

Mr Li said when Adelaide zoo’s two pandas return home in November China will gift it another pair “equally beautiful, lively and cute.”

EXCHANGE: Sweden swapped an Iranian prisoner for two Swedes on Saturday.

Hamid Nouri was arrested when travelling to Sweden as a tourist in 2019, accused of war crimes relating to the mass executions of political dissidents in Iran in the late 1980s. In 2022 he was sentenced to life in prison.

Two Swedish citizens, diplomat Johan Floderus and dual national Saeed Azizi, accused of spying and undermining national security, were sent home in return.

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