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KANO: Soldiers and police Sunday manned checkpoints in Nigeria’s second largest city after coordinated bombings and gun battles killed 162 people in one of the deadliest attacks to hit the mainly Muslim north. A round-the-clock curfew imposed shortly aft

TEHRAN: Seventeen people have died after a storm capsized a passenger boat off of Iran’s southern coast, the official IRNA news agency reported on Sunday. The boat sank Saturday evening while sailing between Hormuz Island and the port city of Bandar Abbas on the mainland, the report said. Rescue teams saved five passengers. The report …

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Mideast state repression set to continue in 2012: Amnesty

NICOSIA: Violence deployed by Middle East governments to suppress dissent last year is set to continue in 2012, with some states clinging to power "at almost any cost," Amnesty International warned in a report on Monday. "The protest movements across the region, led in many cases by young people and with women playing central roles, …

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Algerian ruling party holds congress on reforms

ALGIERS: Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia’s party will hold a congress Thursday and Friday to discuss political reforms launched by the president after protests and riots swept the country last year, the RND said in a statement. The National Rally for Democracy (RND) congress comes as opposition parties call for Ouyahia’s government to be replaced …

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Arab Spring ushers in bright future despite worry

The euphoria sparked by the Arab Spring is giving way to disquiet over political instability and the growing influence of Islamists, but the democratic process still looks unstoppable, experts believe. In 12 months, the Arab world has gone through more changes than it saw in decades, with Tunisia and Egypt staging historic elections. A popular …

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Man arrested in connection with gas pipeline attacks

CAIRO: Egyptian security officials have arrested a man in connection with attacks on a pipeline feeding gas to Israel and Jordan, the official MENA news agency reported on Tuesday. The 20-year-old man "is among the perpetrators of an attack on a police station in the north Sinai town of El-Arish in July, and an explosion …

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US considering Saleh visit request, says official

  HONOLULU: The United States is considering Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s request to visit, but would only grant him entry for "legitimate" medical treatment, a senior US official said Monday.   Officials also said President Barack Obama’s top anti-terror advisor John Brennan called Yemeni Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi on Sunday to urge "maximum …

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Pope prays for peace after Nigeria bomb blast

VATICAN CITY: Pope Benedict XVI prayed for the victims of famine, floods and conflict around the world in his traditional Christmas message on Sunday, following a deadly explosion near a church in Nigeria. "Let us turn our gaze anew to the grotto of Bethlehem. The Child whom we contemplate is our salvation! He has brought …

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Egypt’s police ‘eye sniper’ turns himself in: official

CAIRO: A policeman nicknamed the "eye sniper" after he was filmed apparently aiming rubber bullets at protesters’ heads during clashes in Cairo has handed himself in for questioning, a senior police official said. The lieutenant, Mahmoud Al-Shinnawi, will undergo questioning by state prosecutors over his actions during clashes last week with protesters calling for an …

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Assad again promises Syria reforms as China presses

DAMASCUS: Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad plans to create a new constitution, a top ruling party official said on Tuesday, as China joined long-time ally Russia in pressing for prompt reforms in a country riven by a deadly crackdown on anti-regime protesters. The death toll, already topping 2,900, according to UN calculations, rose further on Tuesday, …

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Syria warns of reprisals for recognition of opposition

DAMASCUS: Syria will retaliate against any country that recognizes the opposition National Council, Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said on Sunday. "We will take significant measures against any country that recognizes this illegitimate council," Muallem told a news conference, as the newly formed opposition group lobbied for support in Cairo. Formed in Istanbul at the end …

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Egypt activist hails Arab Nobel prize winner

  CAIRO: Egyptian cyber activist Wael Ghonim, who was touted as a Nobel Peace Prize candidate, on Friday congratulated the Yemeni activist who shared the honor with two Liberians for her "well deserved win."   "Congratulations to Tawakkul Karman for her well deserved win," Ghonim posted in a Twitter message, describing himself as "a proud …

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Egypt volunteer in Libya wants Qaddafi ‘dead or alive’

SIRTE: He protested peacefully in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to topple Hosni Mubarak but on the front line in Sirte he is fighting to capture Libya’s fugitive strongman Moamer Qaddafi "dead or alive." Egyptian volunteer Alaa Abdullah Salam Al-Masri heads out daily with his Libyan comrades to criss-cross the vast desert battlefield around Qaddafi’s hometown on …

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Subway expansion digs up Roman city under Sofia

Cars zoom by on the boulevards overhead as work progresses on expanding the subway underneath —and in between a full-fledged Roman city has emerged right in the heart of the Bulgarian capital. Archaeologists have little by little unearthed well-preserved stretches of cobbled Roman streets, a public bath, the ruins of a dignitary’s house and the …

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The Russians are coming! (To reality TV)

After celebrating the fake tans and drunken antics of Italian-American youths, America’s reality TV machine this week unleashes its latest ethnic portrait: "Russian Dolls." And not everyone is happy. The series will focus on eight characters from New York’s Brighton Beach neighborhood, which publicists for Lifetime television call "one of the most interesting and mysterious …

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US ‘encouraged’ by tougher Arab stand on Syria

WASHINGTON: The United States said Monday that it was "encouraged" and "heartened" by a tougher stand from Arab countries toward Syria’s deadly crackdown pro-democracy protesters. "We are very much encouraged, heartened by the strong statements that we’ve seen over the weekend by the Arab League as well as by the Gulf Cooperation Council," State Department …

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Hamas, Fatah bid to seal reconciliation in Cairo

CAIRO: Rival Palestinian groups Fatah and Hamas opened talks Sunday in Egypt aimed at implementing a reconciliation agreement struck in May, state news agency MENA reported. The two sides held consultations late Saturday in the presence of Egyptian intelligence officials, the agency said, adding Fatah’s delegation is led by Azzam Al-Ahmad and Hamas by Mousa …

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Israel nabs boat smuggling weapons on Dead Sea

JERUSALEM: The Israeli military and police on Monday captured a boat on the Dead Sea which was trying to smuggle weapons from Jordan, and detained two Palestinians on board, officials said. The boat was carrying a number of Kalashnikov assault rifles, magazines and other weapons, a statement from the army said, adding police were questioning …

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S. Sudan warns Khartoum against ‘economic warfare’

JUBA: South Sudan urged the Khartoum government on Monday not to start "economic wars" over currency and oil transit fees, saying that the current charges that it has imposed amount to "daylight robbery." Negotiations between north and south on key outstanding issues, which were suspended shortly before South Sudan’s formal declaration of independence on July …

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Toppled Mubarak still a thorn in Egypt’s side

CAIRO: Six months after the uprising that toppled Egypt’s president Hosni Mubarak, the former strongman who is in custody in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh remains a thorn in the country’s side. The trial of Mubarak and his two sons, which is scheduled for August 3, remains a huge source of tension and …

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Germany seeking to convince Saleh to stand down, says report

BERLIN: Germany is serving as an intermediary in a bid to convince Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to stand down amid a popular revolt against his three-decade rule, a newspaper report said Thursday. Germany’s daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported in a front-page article that Berlin had sent an envoy to appeal to Saleh to accept …

AFP

Libya rebels seek arms, press pre-Ramadan offensive

BENGHAZI: Libya’s rebels asked France for extra arms to help them overrun Tripoli within "days", as they ramped up a pre-Ramadan offensive that has Moamer Kadhafi’s troops on the run in the east. The request was made in Paris on Wednesday to French President Nicolas Sarkozy by military leaders from the rebel-held city of Misrata, …

AFP

Google fears web crackdown after Arab uprisings

DUBLIN: Google chairman Eric Schmidt on Monday warned that the ongoing Arab uprisings could lead to an upsurge in internet censorship and an increased risk of arrest for colleagues working in restive nations. Speaking at the Summit Against Violent Extremism in Dublin, Schmidt claimed regimes were keen to clamp down on internet freedoms after the …

AFP

Near-miss at JFK with Lufthansa, Egypt Air jets

NEW YORK: US authorities said Wednesday they were investigating a near-miss at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport involving aircraft from Germany’s Lufthansa and Egypt Air. In Monday’s incident, Lufthansa flight 411, an Airbus A340, halted its takeoff to avoid Egypt Air 986, a Boeing 777, a Federal Aviation Administration statement said, adding that it …

AFP

Tunisians dissatisfied with quick Ben Ali verdict

TUNIS: Tunisian authorities were under fire Tuesday for their high-speed sentencing in absentia of deposed strongmen Zine el Abidine Ben Ali and his wife to 35 years in prison for misappropriating public funds. The court’s quick verdict on Monday after only six hours of deliberation on the first day of the landmark trial was dismissed …

AFP

In tough Colombia city, life and art merge

Marlon Rengifo is dead. But Leider Abraham has been reborn. In Petecuy, one of the roughest neighborhoods in Cali, one of Colombia’s most dangerous cities, life and art are intertwined. Both Rengifo and Abraham were members of one of Cali’s most notorious gangs. Rengifo was shot and killed by a rival gang member while trying …

AFP

UN alarm at north Sudan bombardment

KHARTOUM: UN officials expressed alarm on Wednesday after Sudan stepped up air strikes in South Kordofan on the south Sudan border, as clerics, activists and politicians alleged a campaign of ethnic cleansing. The United Nations said the fighting in the embattled state had affected "many" of the 1.4 million residents in the 11 conflict areas, …

AFP

Lady Gaga hails ‘revolutionaries of love’ at gay parade

Lady Gaga hailed gays on Saturday as the "revolutionaries of love" and called for "full equality now" for same-sex couples around the world in a speech in front of hundreds of thousands in Rome. The US pop diva criticized governments in Eastern Europe and the Middle East for condemning young people to a life of …

AFP

Egypt’s police force: loathed but indispensable

CAIRO: Egypt’s long-despised police force, which deserted the streets during an uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak, is being urged to come back to deal with rising crime. But the question of what to do about the police has put the country’s new military rulers in an awkward position as they struggle to restore confidence in …

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