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Global Briefs: Denmark calls women into army

In a bid to boost defenses, the government also plans to extend military service from four to 11 months


Mette Frederiksen Mikkel Berg Pedersen / Ritzau Scanpix / AFP via Getty Images

Global Briefs: Denmark calls women into army
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Denmark

Women in this Nordic country will likely soon be required to serve in the military. Denmark, a founding member of NATO, announced March 13 it plans to introduce military conscription for women, pending approval from the country’s parliament. The government also said it would extend military service from four to 11 months for both men and women and boost defense spending to meet the NATO target of 2 percent GDP, all part of an effort to overhaul Denmark’s army of roughly 8,000 professional troops. Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said she hoped to boost deterrence “in a world where the international order is being challenged.” —Jenny Lind Schmitt


Fact Box Source: The World Factbook-CIA

Philippines

Authorities have arrested nine people for alleged human trafficking after raiding a “love scam” center on March 14. Police rescued hundreds of victims from the Philippines, China, and other countries who were trapped in a building in Bamban town that masqueraded as an online gambling operation. The captors forced victims to lure others into romantic relationships online and dupe them into investing in fake schemes. A Vietnamese man in his 30s informed police about the facility after escaping from it himself. Human traffickers running cryptocurrency scams lured him to the Philippines in January with what they said was a job offer as a chef. Authorities found signs of torture on the man, including electrocution marks. According to a United Nations report, organized criminal gangs have trafficked hundreds of thousands of people to Southeast Asia to work in online scam operations that generate billions of dollars each year. —Joyce Wu


Russia

Authorities have detained a South Korean missionary for alleged espionage, according to a March 11 report from Russia’s state news agency. The man, identified in media reports as Baek Kwang-soon or Baek Won-soon, was arrested earlier this year. The Global Love Rice Sharing Foundation, the Christian group he works for, denies he was spying. “He was a conscientious and deeply religious person appointed by the group to help migrant laborers, the poor, and people in hardship,” foundation head Lee Sun-gu told Reuters. The Russian state news agency said this is the first time a South Korean has been arrested for spying, but Moscow regularly detains foreigners. In March 2023, authorities arrested Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich on spying charges. —Emma Freire


Peter Biar Ajak

Peter Biar Ajak Luis M. Alvarez/AP

South Sudan

A leading activist and Harvard fellow living in the United States faces charges of conspiring to purchase and illegally export millions of dollars’ worth of weapons. U.S. officials detained Peter Biar Ajak and Abraham Chol Keech in Arizona, according to a federal criminal complaint unsealed March 5. The documents claim both men ordered weapons worth nearly $4 million. They planned to smuggle them to South Sudan through a third country. The men could face up to 20 years in prison. Ajak was a former child soldier who sought U.S. asylum in 2020, claiming South Sudanese leaders sought to detain or kill him. —Onize Ohikere


Cris Bouroncle/AFP via Getty Images

Peru

Hundreds of police officers arrested 18 people on March 13 in a “mega-operation” that targeted arms traffickers linked to a political assassination. About 700 officers searched houses and office buildings in the capital, Lima, and several regions on Peru’s border with Ecuador, seizing guns and documents as well as the suspected traffickers. Jorge Chavez, head of the national prosecutor’s office, told Reuters that several companies allegedly imported weapons, mainly from the United States and Turkey, and funneled them to criminal gangs. Chavez believes they likely supplied the weapon used to assassinate Ecuadorian presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio in August. —Elizabeth Russell


Australia

Nearly a dozen Palestinians already en route to Australia had their visas canceled by the Department of Home Affairs, citing a change in status or circumstances. The applicants ended up stuck in Egypt and other countries. Officials said the applicants, who are relatives of Australian Palestinians, never intended a temporary stay and questioned how they managed to escape Rafah into Egypt. They say the use of unofficial visa brokers could jeopardize Australia’s national security. But political pressure brought a quick reversal, and officials reinstated at least eight visas. Australia has granted temporary visas to 2,400 Israelis and 2,200 Palestinians. Australia is one of a handful of countries that designates the entirety of Hamas as a terrorist organization. —Amy Lewis

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