While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Feb 6 edition

US President Donald Trump speaks on the phone with Vladimir Putin, Russia's president, during the first official phone talks in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., US, on Jan 28, 2017.
US President Donald Trump speaks on the phone with Vladimir Putin, Russia's president, during the first official phone talks in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., US, on Jan 28, 2017. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

Donald Trump under fire for saying he respects 'killer' Vladimir Putin

President Donald Trump drew fire from Republicans and Democrats alike Sunday (Feb 5), after he defended a softer stance on Russia, playing down political assassinations and Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Trump - now two weeks into his four-year term - showed no signs of yielding to demands from within his own Republican Party to distance himself from President Vladimir Putin, plunging himself into a fresh political firestorm.

"I do respect him. Well, I respect a lot of people, but that doesn't mean I'll get along with them," Trump said in an excerpt of a Super Bowl interview with Fox News's Bill O'Reilly that will air in full on Sunday.

When pressed in relation to Putin's alleged links to the extrajudicial killing of journalists and dissidents, Trump said, "There are a lot of killers. We have a lot of killers."

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Le Pen vows 'France first' at campaign launch

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen vowed Sunday (Feb 5) she would be a president who puts France first as she formally launched a campaign echoing many of the themes that propelled Donald Trump to the White House.

In a speech in Lyon, the National Front (FN) leader attacked "mass immigration", globalisation and "Islamic fundamentalism" and said she wanted a France "which owes nothing to anyone".

She praised Britain for choosing to leave the European Union and urged the French to emulate Trump voters "who put their own national interests first".

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Death toll from Afghan avalanches tops 100

More than 100 people have been killed in a series of avalanches triggered by days of heavy snowfall around Afghanistan, including 50 in one village, officials said Sunday (Feb 5), warning the death toll could rise still further.

The avalanches struck after three days of heavy snow, which has destroyed scores of homes and blocked roads mainly in central and northeastern provinces, making it difficult for rescue workers to reach the stricken villages.

The bulk of the deaths however occurred in remote Nuristan province, where at least 50 people were killed in a single village, Mohammad Omar Mohammadi a spokesman for the ministry of natural disaster told AFP.

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Transfers for Italian police who shot Berlin attacker

The two Italian policemen who became instant heroes after they stopped and killed the Berlin Christmas market attacker have been transferred to new posts, Italian media reported Sunday (Feb 5).

Italy's interior ministry has granted transfers from Milan in "recognition of an extraordinary act," reported RaiNews, quoting police sources while Corriere Della Sera described their destinations as "secret".

Luca Scata, a rookie officer aged 29, and fellow officer Christian Movio, 36, stopped 24-year-old Tunisian Anis Amri on Dec 23 in Milan, where he had fled after driving a truck into a Berlin crowd four days earlier, killing 12.

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Football: United maintain unbeaten run with comfortable 3-0 Leicester win

Manchester United continued their push for a top-four finish with a comfortable 3-0 victory at champions Leicester City on Sunday (Feb 5), extending their unbeaten Premier League run to 15 games.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan open the scoring with a cool finish after he galloped onto Chris Smalling's header in the 42nd minute and, with Leicester's defence still recovering, Zlatan Ibrahimovic added a second two minutes later.

Juan Mata stroked home their third goal after some delightful link up play with Mkhitaryan in the 49th and United easily closed out the game against a Leicester side who have yet to score a league goal in 2017.

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