With all eyes on US Election Day, here are five stories to help you catch up with developments taking place in the rest of the world.

US airmen prepare a US Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone as it leaves on a mission at Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan March 9, 2016.
US airmen prepare a US Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone as it leaves on a mission at Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan March 9, 2016. (Reuters)

US approves Taiwan drone purchase 

The Trump administration has notified Congress that it has approved the sale of $600 million in armed drones to Taiwan, the latest in a series of arms transfers for the island.

The State Department said on Tuesday it had Ok'd Taiwan’s purchase of four “weapons ready" remotely piloted aircraft and related equipment. The move is likely to infuriate China, which regards Taiwan as a renegade province and has reacted angrily to previous weapons sales' announcements to the island.

“This proposed sale serves US national, economic, and security interests by supporting the recipient’s continuing efforts to modernise its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability,” it said.
“The proposed sale will help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance, economic and progress in the region.”

It said the sale would improve Taiwan’s defense by bolstering its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities and could help deter military action against it.

READ MORE: US approves $2.37B Harpoon missile sale to Taiwan
Just last week, the administration approved plans for a $2.37 billion sale of Harpoon missile systems to Taiwan. Th at came hours after Beijing had announced sanctions on US defense contractors, including Boeing, the lead contractor on the Harpoon deal, over a previous weapons deal.

N. Korea man crossed armed border in possible defection to South

South Korea's military has said it had taken into custody a North Korean man who crossed the heavily fortified border with North Korea into the South, prompting an urgent search operation.

The man was found on Wednesday about 9:50 a.m. on the eastern end of the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) dividing the two Koreas, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said, adding there was no unusual movement among North Korean troops.

"An investigation is planned to find out details about the man, including how he had come down and whether he wished to defect," the JCS said in a statement.

The person was first spotted crossing barbed wire fences installed along the border at 7:26 p.m. on Tuesday (1026GMT), the News1 agency reported, citing an unnamed military source.

The Yonhap news agency said the military had issued a "Jindotgae" anti-infiltration alert for the eastern border area.

The defence ministry declined to confirm those reports, citing an ongoing investigation.

Vienna shootings

Austrian police have conducted at least 15 searches and arrested several suspects after an attacker killed four people and wounded 17 others in a shooting in the heart of Vienna hours before a coronavirus lockdown started.

The suspected attacker, who was carrying an assault rifle and a fake suicide vest, was also later shot and killed by police on Monday night. He was identified as a 20-year-old Austrian-North Macedonian dual national who had a previous terror conviction.

Several world leaders, including countries like Turkey, the US, Germany, Pakistan, France, Italy, Canada, Greece and Australia have voiced their condemnation over the multiple shootings in Vienna.

People in Vienna have been urged to stay at home if possible on Tuesday and children did not have to go to school. Some 1,000 police officers were on duty in Vienna on Tuesday morning.

Vienna’s hospital service said seven people were in life-threatening condition Tuesday after the assault, that Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz described as a "terrorist attack".

The attacker, named as Kujtim Fejzulai, was sentenced to 22 months in prison in April 2019 because he had tried to travel to Syria to join the Deash terrorist group. He was granted early release in December under juvenile law. 

Authorities were still trying to determine whether further attackers may be on the run.

READ MORE: Four civilians, one attacker dead in Vienna attack: police

Young girl rescued 91 hours after Izmir quake

Search and rescue efforts are continuing in Turkey's Izmir after a magnitude 6.6 earthquake hit the country's Aegean region on Friday

Rescuers on Tuesday managed to pull out three-year-old Ayda Gezgin  from under a building's wreckage 91 hours after earthquake. The 107th survivor to be rescued, she was taken to hospital for treatment.

The death toll from last week’s earthquake in Turkey now stands at 109, authorities said.

Members of rescue services work at collapsed buildings destroyed in the October 30 earthquake in Izmir, Turkey, Tuesday, November 3, 2020.
Members of rescue services work at collapsed buildings destroyed in the October 30 earthquake in Izmir, Turkey, Tuesday, November 3, 2020. (AP)

According to Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (or AFAD), 138 victims are still under treatment, while over 880 more have been discharged from hospitals.

A total of 1,475 aftershocks – 44 of them with a magnitude higher than 4.0 – have been recorded since last Friday’s quake rattled Izmir, Turkey.

READ MORE: Search and rescue continue after strong quake rattles Turkey, Greece

Thai protest leader says movement won't back down on monarchy demand

A top leader of Thailand’s pro-democracy protests insisted that the student-led movement will not back down from its most controversial demand, that the country’s monarchy undergoes reforms.

Lawyer Arnon Nampha also told a crowd outside Bangkok Remand Prison on Tuesday that the movement would hold a large demonstration in front of Parliament if a draft constitutional amendment the protesters are seeking is not approved in its next session, scheduled for mid-November.

Protesters flash the three-fingered Hunger Games salute as Thai lawyer and activist Anon Numpa speaks after he and three others were released from Bangkok Remand Prison in the early hours of November 3, 2020,.
Protesters flash the three-fingered Hunger Games salute as Thai lawyer and activist Anon Numpa speaks after he and three others were released from Bangkok Remand Prison in the early hours of November 3, 2020,. (AFP)

The movement wants Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha to step down, the constitution to be amended to make it more democratic, and the monarchy reformed to make its activities more transparent and accountable. The protesters have been holding almost daily rallies around the country, some attracting upwards of 10,000 people.

Arnon said the protest movement will insist on its three demands, and even if it compromises on the prime minister’s resignation and amending the constitution, it will stick to the third concerning the monarchy.

The protesters believe the monarchy wields too much power, but to royalists, it is an untouchable institution that is the heart and soul of the nation. Public criticism of it is unprecedented, and a lese majeste law makes defaming the monarch and his immediate family punishable by up to 15 years' imprisonment.

READ MORE: Anti-govt protesters in Thailand continue demonstrating

Counter-demonstrations that have sprung up in reaction to the pro-democracy movement declare they are defending the monarchy. 

The government has urged “unity” as a way of easing the political crisis, but there are fears that polarisation could foster violence.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies