CHENGDU, China – The American flag has been taken down at a U.S. consulate in southwestern China, according to state media, as officials vacate the premises under order of the Chinese government.
The U.S. State Department later confirmed it has suspended operations at the consulate.
State broadcaster CCTV said on its social media account that the flag was lowered at 6:18 a.m. today at the U.S. mission in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province.
Police closed off a two- to three-block area around the consulate, cutting off virtually any view of the property. Vehicles could be seen moving in the distance behind multiple police lines.
China ordered the closing of the consulate on Friday in retaliation for a U.S. order to close the Chinese Consulate in Houston.
Ukraine, rebels prepare for cease-fire
Ukrainian and rebel forces in war-torn eastern Ukraine prepared for a “full and comprehensive” cease-fire scheduled to begin at midnight Sunday, a move that officials hope can lead to more steps to resolve the 6-year-old conflict.
Rebel officials said Sunday they had instructed their troops about the cease-fire and issued a decree banning the use of weapons. Ukraine's military said their forces “have begun preparations” for the ceasefire.
If upheld, it would “pave the way for implementing other clauses” of the Minsk peace deal, the office of Ukraine's president said earlier this week, calling the cease-fire a “breakthrough.”
UN: 6,000 Pakistani insurgents hiding
A U.N. report says more than 6,000 Pakistani insurgents are hiding in Afghanistan, most belonging to the outlawed Pakistani Taliban group responsible for attacking Pakistani military and civilian targets.
The report said the group, known as the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP), has linked up with the Afghan-based affiliate of the Islamic State group. Some of TTP's members have even joined the IS affiliate, which has its headquarters in eastern Afghanistan.
The Afghan government did not respond Sunday to requests by The Associated Press for comment.
Suspect charged in cathedral arson
French authorities detained and charged a repentant church volunteer Sunday after he told investigators that he was responsible for an arson attack that badly damaged a 15th-century Gothic cathedral.
The man had previously been questioned and then released after the July 18 blaze that destroyed the organ, shattered stained-glass windows and blackened the insides of the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul of the western French city of Nantes. Detained this weekend for further questioning, the volunteer church worker admitted responsibility for the fire, said his lawyer, Quentin Chabert.