Diamond heist — Belgian police were on the hunt Tuesday for a group of thieves who made off with diamonds worth millions of dollars in a spectacular robbery at the country’s main airport. The heavily armed men, who were posing as police officers, snatched an estimated 120 parcels from a diamond shipment that was being loaded from a Brink’s security truck onto a Switzerland-bound plane on Monday evening, prosecutors said.
Cyberattacks — As public evidence mounts that the Chinese military is responsible for stealing massive amounts of U.S. government data and corporate trade secrets, the Obama administration is eyeing fines and other trade actions it may take against Beijing or any other country guilty of cyber espionage. According to officials familiar with the plans, the White House will lay out a new report today that suggests initial, more-aggressive steps the U.S. would take.
California killing spree — A violent rampage that left four dead in suburban Orange County began in the pre-dawn hours Tuesday when a 20-year-old killed a woman in his home and sped away in his parents’ car, authorities said. An hour later, it was over — but not before Ali Syed had killed two more people during carjackings, shot up vehicles on a busy freeway interchange and left three others injured in a trail of carnage that stretched across 25 miles.
Kansas City gas blast — Cadaver dogs were searching through the smoldering rubble of a Kansas City, Mo., restaurant after a gas explosion sparked a massive blaze Tuesday evening in an upscale shopping district. More than a dozen people were injured in the blast and resulting fire, which occurred just after 6 p.m. and completely destroyed JJ’s restaurant. But as of late Tuesday there were no reports of fatalities.
Syria conflict — A Syrian missile strike leveled a block of buildings in an impoverished district of Aleppo on Tuesday, killing at least 33 people, almost half of them children, anti-regime activists said. Many were trapped under the rubble of destroyed houses and piles of concrete and the death toll could still rise further if more bodies are uncovered.
Drone strikes — The number of U.S. drone strikes in Afghanistan rose sharply last year compared with 2011, the United Nations said Tuesday. The increase was a sign that unmanned aircraft are taking a greater role as Americans try to streamline the fight against insurgents while preparing to withdraw combat forces in less than two years. Drones have become a major source of contention between the U.S. and countries like Pakistan.
New York rats — Officials in New York City are calling for a publicly financed program to bait, kill and remove rats in the wake of reports that Hurricane Sandy sent droves of the rodents scurrying inland, with many of them taking up residence in new neighborhoods.
Ireland apology — Prime Minister Enda Kenny offered an unreserved state apology on Tuesday over Ireland’s failure to protect thousands of young women and girls consigned to virtual slavery in the so-called “Magdalene laundries" between 1922 and 1996. Kenny said the women not only deserved a formal apology for what they had suffered but also counseling and financial support.
Korea propaganda — A new North Korean video portrays President Barack Obama and American troops in flames and says the North conducted its recent nuclear test because of U.S. hostility. The video follows a string of critical rhetoric against the U.S. Another video posted earlier this month showed an American city being attacked by missiles.
Prisoner X — Israel denied Tuesday that a reputed Australian-Israeli agent of its Mossad spy agency who committed suicide in secret custody in 2010 had contact with Australian intelligence services. The statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office is the first time Israel has named the reported spy, Ben Zygier, who had been widely referred to as Prisoner X, though the statement shed no light on the murky circumstances of his arrest.
— From wire reports