Japan promises tighter security

Appalled and saddened by news of journalist Kenji Goto's purported beheading by Islamic extremists, Japan ordered heightened security precautions Sunday and said it would persist with its nonmilitary support for fighting terrorism.

The slaying of Goto, a freelance reporter whose work focused on refugees, children and other victims of war, shocked this country, which until now had not become directly embroiled in the fight against the militants.

"I feel indignation over this immoral and heinous act of terrorism," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said after convening an emergency Cabinet meeting.

Japan has so far shown support for the strong line taken by Abe, who did not meet the hostage takers' initial demands on Jan. 20 for a $200 million ransom, pledging not to yield to terrorism.

Jordan renews trade offer

Jordan renewed an offer Sunday to swap an Al-Qaida prisoner for Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, who was seized by ISIL after his F-16 fighter jet crashed near Raqqa, Syria, in December.

Government spokesman Mohammed al-Momani told the Associated Press that "we are still ready to hand over" Sajida al-Rishawi, who faces death by hanging for her role in triple hotel bombings in Jordan in 2005.

Al-Kaseasbeh is a member of a politically influential tribe in Jordan, part of a crucial base of tribal support for the nation's king.

With no updates for days, Al-Kaseasbeh's family appealed to the government for information on his situation. Al-Kaseasbeh's uncle said the family just wants to be kept informed and "know how the negotiations are going … in a positive direction or not."

Troops push back vs. Boko Haram

Nigerian troops Sunday repelled Islamic extremists who attacked from four fronts on Maiduguri, the biggest city in northeast Nigeria, with several civilians killed by aerial bombs and grenades and mortar shells on the ground.

Soldiers said hundreds of insurgents died.

Terrified residents fled homes shaking from five hours of heavy artillery fire and streamed in from the outskirts of the besieged city of 2 million, already crowded with another 200,000 refugees from the fighting.

In a separate attack, a suspected Boko Haram suicide bomber killed himself and eight others Sunday at the home of politician Sabo Garbu in Potiskum, in neighboring Yobe state, according to witness Abdullahi Mohammed.

News services