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Two men charged with murder of Nicola Payne

Two men have been arrested on suspicion of murdering young mother Nicola Payne, who disappeared 23 years ago while walking to her parents' house.

Nigel Barwell (51) and Thomas O'Reilly (50) of Ribble Road, both Coventry, were charged with the 18-year-old's murder, West Midlands Police said.

Both men were first arrested in connection with Ms Payne's disappearance in late 2013 and had been on conditional bail until they were formally charged.

She has not been seen since disappearing in Coventry on December 14, 1991 after leaving her boyfriend's house.

Her family have been informed of the latest developments.

Police have said the search for Ms Payne - who has never been found despite intensive efforts - will continue.

Detective Inspector Martin Slevin, leading the investigation, said: "Today's charges follow months of extensive inquiries by a team of dedicated officers who are investigating the disappearance of Nicola.

"But I want to reassure Nicola's family and the local community that the search for Nicola will continue.

"Over the past year a number of sites have been searched and these investigations will carry on.

"I would like to thank the local community for their support and those people who have come forward to provide information about Nicola's disappearance.

"I believe that there are still people out there with vital information yet to come forward and I appeal to them directly to contact us on 101 or confidentially Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

"We will always assess and act on any new information."

Ms Payne had a seven-month-old son at the time of her disappearance. Down the years, her parents John and Marilyn Payne have made emotional appeals for information to trace what became of their daughter.

Nine die as gunmen storm top hotel

Libya: Gunmen stormed a luxury hotel in Tripoli, killing four foreigners and five guards and triggering a stand-off that ended when two assailants set off a grenade that killed them, officials said.

The attack on the Corinthia Hotel, which sits along the Mediterranean Sea, underscores the lawlessness that the north African country descended into following the 2011 ouster and killing of dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

The US State Department said it was looking into reports of an American casualty in the attack. The attack started in the morning and included a car bombing, said Essam al-Naas, a spokesman for a Tripoli security agency.

“The operation is over,” Mr al-Naas said, but added that the streets around Corinthia remained closed.

Two commercial landmark towers behind the hotel were evacuated out of security concerns, he said.

The militia-backed government in Tripoli said the target of the attack was Prime Minister Omar al-Hassi, who was unharmed.

Since Gaddafi’s ousting, Libya has been torn among competing militias and tribes vying for power.

Hostages have 24 hours to live, Isis warns in online message

Iraq: An online message purportedly from Islamic State group says a Japanese hostage and Jordanian pilot it holds have less than 24 hours to live.

The message, posted online, again demanded the release of Sajida al-Rishawi, an Iraqi woman sentenced to death in Jordan for involvement in a 2005 terror attack that killed 60 people.

The message says that unless the Jordanian government frees Ms al-Rishawi within 24 hours, Kenji Goto and the pilot will be killed, adding that this would be the group’s last message.

A Japanese envoy in Jordan, Yasuhide Nakayama, earlier expressed hope the two hostages would return home “with a smile on their faces”.

‘Criminal’ Putin killed spy, probe told

London: Russian president Vladimir Putin should be unmasked as “nothing more than a common criminal dressed as a head of state” by a public inquiry into the death of poisoned spy Alexander Litvinenko, a barrister representing his widow has said.

On the first day of the hearing, Ben Emmerson QC, for Marina Litvinenko, said the murder of the Russian spy turned political campaigner was an “act of nuclear terrorism on the streets of a major city”.

Held in the Royal Courts of Justice, the inquiry heard that Mr Litvinenko may have been poisoned “not once but twice” with radioactive polonium-210.

And a statement given by the Kremlin critic to Scotland Yard detectives from his hospital bed before his death blamed Mr Putin for his demise.

Mr Litvinenko (43), who is thought to have been working for MI6, died at University College Hospital nearly three weeks after he had consumed tea laced with polonium on November 1, 2006, at the Millennium Hotel in London’s Grosvenor Square.

$3m bounty terror chief renounces violence

Somali: A leader with the Islamic extremist group al-Shabab who has a $3m bounty on his head has renounced violence.

Zakariya Ismail Hersi, who was intelligence chief of the group linked to al-Qaeda, called for reconciliation while speaking publicly for the first time since his surrender last month.

Hersi was one of seven al-Shabab officials for whom the Obama government offered a total of $33m for information leading to their capture.

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