Saturday's news in under 5 minutes: January 17

We’ve rounded up the headlines from across the world — so it’ll only take you a couple of minutes to catch up on the most important news around at the moment.

1. Sydney siege gunman let hostages make desperate final calls to family.

Man Haron Monis, the gunman who held 18 people hostage in the Lindt Café last month, permitted some of the hostages to make heart-wrenching phone calls to their families. Under constant threat from the gunman, the hostages expected that they would not survive the siege.

Siege hostage, Marcia Mikhael who was shot during the final police raid, has spoken to the Seven Network about her ordeal. New details about her experience and those of other hostages have been revealed in the Weekend Australian today by Sharri Markson.

Marcia Mikhael. Image via Facebook.

Channel 7 executive producer, Mark Llewellyn, told Ms Markson about Marcia Mikhael’s interview, saying it was “one of the most powerful interviews [he’d] ever seen”.

In the interview, Ms Mikhael reveals that she made a desperate phone call to her home and finally spoke to her children – for what she thought would be the last time.

Ms Mikhael had been one of the hostages who was forced to hold up the flag in the window of the Lindt Café. Standing for hours, Llewellyn said that, “her arms and muscles were burning so badly, she feared she would collapse”.

As police raided the café after hostage Tori Johnson was executed, Ms Mikhael dropped to the ground beside fellow hostage, Katrina Dawson.

Llewellyn said. “They were petrified. The shooting starts. Mik­hael is hit in her leg. All she can hear is screaming. The only person she can’t hear is Katrina.”

2. Australian newspaper tightens security after Jihadist threat.

Police are investigating a specific threat made against an Australian newspaper by a Melbourne man believed to be fighting with terrorists in Syria.

Suhan Rahman, 23, is thought to have been in the war-torn nation for five months, according to media reports.

Suhan Rahman posted photos on social media, which appeared to show him in Syria.

It is not clear if he joined Islamic State fighters but photos on social media under the account Suhan Abdul Rahman appeared to show him in Syria.

His Facebook account contains messages of support for the Charlie Hebdo gunmen and threats to “spill blood” in Australia.

Victoria Police are investigating the threats, with a particular focus on this post: “theres no good left in u if none of u do something about the australian newspaper mocking our prophet peace be upon him. Dont be cowards (sic).”

The posting makes explicit, graphic suggestions which the ABC has decided not to publish.

Victoria Police said it was working closely with the company named in the threats.

Additional security measures have been put in place at News Corporation in Melbourne.

No activity has been registered on the Facebook account since late yesterday morning.

In a statement, Victoria Police said it was concerned about the small number of Australians who had travelled to Syria and become embroiled in extremist ideologies.

It said it was continuing to monitor the situation closely.

An edited version of this article appears on ABC, and has been republished here with full permission.

3. Search ramps up for mother of baby girl abandoned on Maroubra Beach.

New South Wales Police will interview hundreds of women who were pregnant late last year to find the mother a of a baby girl whose body was buried in sand of Maroubra Beach.

NSW Police will interview hundreds of women to find the mother of the baby whose body was found on a Sydney Beach.

Investigators will use DNA samples from the baby to identify both the child and her parents, The Daily Telegraph reports.

The baby’s body was uncovered by two boys, aged six and seven, who were playing on the beach in November last year.

4. Reports of violent clashes at Manus Island detention centre denied by PNG Government.

The Papua New Guinean government has denied reports of a violent confrontation between asylum seekers and security staff at the Manus Island detention centre.

Photographs sent to media by asylum seekers on Friday appeared to show security staff in riot gear responding to an incident at the facility.

Asylum seekers said there had been a clash and sent images of two men with minor head injuries and another being carried away on a stretcher.

But the PNG government denied that version of events. The Australian Government has been approached for comment.

The Refugee Action Coalition says a man taken away on a stretcher had collapsed from hunger, not injury.

“There was no physical engagement between asylum seekers and security personnel,” a PNG government spokesman said.

“Security [staff] were on standby for safety reasons considering the reported rise in tension.

“This is only natural to ensure the safety of the workers as well as people in the facility following media reports of self-harm.

“Workers have essential tasks to maintain such as cleaning and the delivery of other services.”

The spokesman said “at no time did police enter the facility”.

One asylum seeker insisted the clash did take place.

“They fought together, with IRT [Incident Response Team] and with the local people,” he told the ABC, saying he had spoken to a man in Delta compound where the incident was reported to have occurred.

“They threatened the boys. They told them tomorrow … the new group will come from Australia and we will come and will enter into the camp and we will beat you,” the asylum seeker said.

This article appears on ABC, and has been republished here with full permission.

5. It’s official – 2014 was the hottest year on record.

Global temperatures were at an all time high in 2014, soaring to 0.8°C above 20th century averages, according to American scientists.

Both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA calculated that last year was the hottest year in 135 years of record-keeping.

Associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA headquarters in Washington John Grunsfeld says the latest reports were an important reminder of human impact on climate change, the The Daily Mail reports.

“The observed long-term warming trend and the ranking of 2014 as the warmest year on record reinforces the importance for NASA to study Earth as a complete system, and particularly to understand the role and impacts of human activity,” he said.

Catch up on more news in this 90 second update from ABC.


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