PERTH, Australia (AP) -- Officials are trying to confirm whether an electronic "pulse signal" reportedly picked up by a Chinese ship in the Indian Ocean came from the missing Malaysian jetliner.
The Australian agency coordinating the search for the missing plane says the "pings" reportedly detected by the Chinese ship are consistent with those of an aircraft black box.
But the agency's head, retired Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, says they "cannot verify any connection" at this stage between the signals and Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
Houston says his Joint Agency Coordination Centre has asked China for "any further information that may be relevant." He says the Australian air force is considering deploying more aircraft to the area where the ship reportedly detected the sounds.
The agency says up to 12 military and civilian planes and 13 ships will take part in Sunday's search, which will focus on three areas totaling 83,400 square miles. The areas are about 1,200 miles northwest of the Australian city of Perth.
It's not yet clear if the reported pulse signal helped to determine the areas to be searched on Sunday.
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) -- Ukraine's security service says it has detained a 15-strong armed gang planning to seize power in an eastern province on the border with Russia.
The Security Service of Ukraine said Saturday that it seized 300 machine guns, an antitank grenade launcher, a large number of grenades, five handguns and petrol bombs.
It said the group intended to mount a grab for power in the Luhansk province on April 10 by sowing panic among the local population. No names or additional details were provided.
Luhansk and neighboring mainly Russian-speaking eastern provinces have seen active calls for separatism following February's toppling of President Viktor Yanukovych. Ukraine's pro-European interim government accuses Russia of fomenting secessionist sentiments.
The Crimean Peninsula was annexed by Russia last month following a contentious referendum.
TOKYO (AP) -- Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says the U.S. will deploy two additional ballistic missile defense destroyers to Japan by 2017 as part of an effort to bolster protection from North Korean missile threats.
Speaking to reporters Sunday in Tokyo, Hagel says a key focus of his talks with Japan Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera revolve around the threat posed by Pyongyang.
Hagel tells reporters the two additional ships are in response to what he describes as North Korea's "pattern of provocative and destabilizing actions," including missile launches that violate U.N. resolutions. And he says the ships also will provide the U.S. more protection from those threats.
The U.S. already has five of the high-tech Aegis warships in Japan.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Afghans have defied Taliban threats as well as rain to vote in presidential and provincial elections today.
They turned out by the millions, lining up at schools and crowding mosque courtyards to cast their ballots.
While a feared wide-scale disruption of voting didn't materialize, the interior minister says scattered violence left 20 people dead in a span of 24 hours -- 16 Afghan security forces and four civilians.
Dozens of planned polling centers didn't open because of rocket and gunfire attacks. In one district a bomb exploded in a school packed with voters, wounding two men.
Still, turnout was so high that some polling centers ran out of ballots, and voting was extended by an hour to accommodate those still in line.
Final results are not expected for a week or more, though partial results could come as early as Sunday.
With eight presidential candidates on the ballot, a runoff is widely expected.
In Washington President Barack Obama congratulated the millions of Afghans who defied threats from the Taliban and went to the polls Saturday to vote for a successor to outgoing President Hamid Karzai.
Obama says Afghanistan's presidential election on marks another important milestone as the Afghan people take full responsibility for their country.
Obama says the election is critical to securing Afghanistan's democratic future and continued international support.
Secretary of State John Kerry says the vote demonstrates the Afghan people's commitment to protecting and advancing their democracy. He says that the United States remains ready to work with the next president.
Pakistan says it will release Taliban prisoners
ISLAMABAD (AP) -- Pakistan's interior minister says the government will release 13 Taliban prisoners to aid ongoing peace talks with militants.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said Saturday he hopes the Taliban will release some of its own prisoners as well. Khan said some of those being released by the government were on a Taliban list.
Khan said next round of talks will be held next week and the number of released prisoner may rise to 30. The government released 19 prisoners last month. Khan said he met Saturday with Taliban officials.
The government is holding talks with the local Taliban to bring an end to the ongoing insurgency in the country that's killed thousands of people in recent years. Splinter groups have continued their attacks despite the talks.
Lebanese army take full control of eastern highway
BEIRUT (AP) -- Lebanon's state-run National News Agency says government forces have taken full control of a highway in the country's northeast once patrolled by gunmen.
The agency said Saturday the army is in charge of all checkpoints on the road linking the towns of Arsal and Hermel near the Syrian border.
Members of the militant Hezbollah group used to search cars amid a wave of car bombs that killed scores of people. NNA said after Saturday's deployment, only troops will be searching cars there.
Syria's civil war has spilled over into Lebanon on multiple occasions and inflamed sectarian tensions. Lebanese Sunnis often back the Sunni rebels and Shiites frequently support President Bashar Assad. Violence along the highway has been attributed to the civil war, now in its fourth year.
BAGHDAD (AP) -- Officials in Iraq say an explosion at a booby-trapped house and ensuing clashes with militants have killed 21 soldiers in the Baghdad area.
Police officials say the blast happened Saturday afternoon when a group of soldiers searched a farmhouse in Garma, an area near the city of Fallujah, 40 miles west of the capital. Minutes later, police say gunmen opened fire on arriving soldiers.
Officials say the blast and clashes killed 15 soldiers and wounded 24, as well as leveled the home.
In another attack, police say a roadside bomb killed three soldiers and wounded seven just north of Baghdad.
On Saturday night, a roadside bomb hit a military patrol in the southern suburbs of Baghdad, killing three soldiers and wounded two, police said.
Al-Qaida-inspired militants took control of Fallujah and parts of Ramadi in Anbar province in late December.
Iraq holds its first parliamentary elections since the withdrawal of U.S. troops on April 30.
Libyan armed group frees detained Egyptian trucks
TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) -- Officials say militiamen in Libya have freed over 50 Egyptian trucks on the road to the country's east after they detained them to protest the prosecution of members of their group in Egypt on arms smuggling charges.
Libyan Interior Ministry spokesman Rami Kaal said Saturday that gunmen had prevented the trucks from entering the city of Ajdabiya. He says drivers and passengers have been waiting with their vehicles on the side of the road since Friday. Officials in the city said they were later let go late Saturday.
Egypt's Foreign Ministry said it is in contact with Libyan authorities over the incident.
In January, gunmen briefly kidnapped six Egyptian diplomats and embassy employees following the arrest of a Libyan militia leader in Egypt.
18 killed in feud between families in south Egypt
LUXOR, Egypt (AP) -- Government officials and local witnesses in Egypt say at least 18 people have been killed in a bloody feud between an Arab clan and a Nubian family in the country's southern Aswan province.
Abdel-Sabbour Hassan, a Nubian activist, said Saturday the feud started as a graffiti war between students from the two clans on the walls of a local school.
Adel Abu Bakr, a Nubian resident of Aswan, said members of the Arab Beni Hilal tribe killed three Nubians on Friday, including a woman. Following the funeral, hundreds of Nubians attacked the Arab neighborhood, killing over a dozen. A local government statement said at least 18 have been killed so far.
Abu Bakr said the police failed to stem the violence and called for the army to intervene.