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Afghan security forces say they have regained control of a luxury hotel in Kabul after it was stormed by gunmen. At least five civilians were killed and six were injured in the siege, the interior ministry said on Sunday. All three of the attackers have been killed, a ministry spokesman said. More than 150 people were rescued. The gunmen burst into the Intercontinental Hotel on Saturday evening, shooting at guests and staff and detonating grenades. Special forces battled to secure the hotel and rescue people trapped inside, ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said. He added that one foreigner was among those killed. The rescued guests included 41 foreigners. Saturday’s siege came just days after the US embassy in Kabul issued a warning about hotels in the city. "We are aware of reports that extremist groups may be planning an attack against hotels in Kabul," the embassy wrote in a public security alert published Thursday, though it highlighted another hotel near the international airport as a possible target. "These groups may also be targeting public gatherings/demonstrations, government facilities, transportation, markets, and places where foreigners are known to congregate." [46]

The world’s first vaccine against malaria will be introduced in three countries – Ghana, Kenya and Malawi – starting in 2018. The RTS,S vaccine trains the immune system to attack the malaria parasite, which is spread by mosquito bites. The World Health Organization (WHO) said the jab had the potential to save tens of thousands of lives. But it is not yet clear if it will be feasible to use in the poorest parts of the world. The vaccine needs to be given four times – once a month for three months and then a fourth dose 18 months later. This has been achieved in tightly controlled and well-funded clinical trials, but it is not yet clear if it can be done in the "real-world" where access to health care is limited. Each country will decide how to run the vaccination pilots, but high-risk areas are likely to be prioritised. Despite huge progress, there are still 212 million new cases of malaria each year and 429,000 deaths. Africa is the hardest hit and most of the deaths are in children. [149]

A number of people are dead or missing in Costa Rica after Hurricane Otto made landfall as a Category Two storm. Otto, the southernmost hurricane on record to hit Central America, struck a sparsely-populated area of southern Nicaragua on Thursday. Neighbouring Costa Rica had ordered 4,000 people from the Caribbean coast. At about the same time the storm hit, a powerful earthquake shook Nicaragua and El Salvador, briefly triggering a tsunami alert. The 7.0 magnitude quake in the Pacific Ocean was about 120km (75 miles) off the coast of El Salvador. There were no reports of damage or casualties but residents were initially advised to evacuate coastal areas. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center later said the threat had passed. Media in Nicaragua said one woman died of a heart attack after hearing the tsunami warning. Meanwhile, in Costa Rica, president Luis Guillermo Solis said an unknown number were dead or missing after the hurricane. The country had not been directly hit by a hurricane since records began in 1851. BBC

Severe weather has battered parts of eastern Australia. The weather system pushed across southern parts of Queensland, intensifying as it did so. Southeastern parts of the state were the worst hit. According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, 382mm of rain was reported at Upper Springbrook on the Gold Coast and 357mm was reported at Mount Tamborine. This vast amount of rain caused major flooding. Numerous roads were inundated and became impassable, including the major Bruce Highway. As the rain strengthened, the winds also picked up. Thousands of homes suffered power cuts, the majority of which were on the Gold Coast. The strongest gust was nearly 100 kilometres per hour at Cape Moreton. As the system pushed southwards into New South Wales, it continued to produce severe weather. A gust of wind of 117kph was reported in Sydney Harbour, and across Sydney the winds were intense. More than 100 power lines were ripped down, the roof was torn off an apartment block and numerous trees were also brought down. The system is expected to become even more dangerous over the coming hours, as an area of low pressure develops off the coast of New South Wales. The winds will intensify and the wave heights are expected to reach up to eight metres in some areas. [251]

A travel ban on cars in New York City has ended as the east coast of the US begins digging out from the weekend’s massive snowstorm. But in Washington DC, the metro is set to remain closed and air travel in the region faces further disruption. As householders dug themselves out of drifts up to 40.5in (103cm) deep, the hazards of shovelling snow were brought home by at least six deaths.A further 12 people have died in other snow-related incidents since Friday.The storm, dubbed Snowmageddon and Snowzilla on social media, is lessening and heading for the Atlantic Ocean. It has affected some 85 million people, cutting power to 200,000 people.

Some 7,000 flights were cancelled this weekend and disruption is to continue into the working week, with at least 615 cancelled for Monday. States of emergency were declared in New York, Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, New Jersey, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia. In Kentucky, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, drivers were stranded for hours on snowbound highways.The heaviest fall was recorded in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, which had 40.5in (103 cm). [339]