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International

Nepal urged to reject reconciliation bill

New York : Nepali legislators should reject problematic provisions of the proposed Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) bill introduced in parliament, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Commission of Jurists said Thursday.

Despite a Jan 2 directive from the Nepali Supreme Court that the law must meet international legal standards, the bill contains provisions for amnesty that violate international law, the three groups said.

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Obama warns Russia over Ukraine

Washington: US President Barack Obama once again warned Russia against further destabilizing Ukraine.

Obama said Wednesday that it was "absolutely clear" that Russia had violated Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity by annexing Crimea last month and was continuing to do so by supporting "non-state militias" in eastern Ukraine, Xinhua reported.

"What I've said consistently is that each time Russia takes these kinds of steps, that are designed to destabilise Ukraine and violate their sovereignty, that there are going to be consequences," Obama added.

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Six dead, 290 missing after South Korean ship sinks

Seoul: A passenger ship carrying 475 people, mostly high school students, capsised in waters off South Korea's southwest coast Wednesday, leaving at least six people dead and 290 others missing, the media reported Thursday.

Six people, including a crew member, four high school students and a teacher, were confirmed dead Thursday, with 179 people rescued and 290 others still missing, Xinhua reported citing the country's central disaster and safety countermeasures headquarters.

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UN official calls for ending Israeli blockade on Gaza

Gaza: A UN official Wednesday described keeping an Israeli blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip for almost seven years as "a collective punishment", Xinhua reported.

The Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) Pierre Krahenbuhl pledged to defend Gaza and work hard to end the blockade.

20 killed in Nigerian attacks

Abuja: At least 20 people were killed in attacks launched by gunmen in two Nigerian villages, local media reported Wednesday citing witnesses and security sources.

Early Wednesday, unidentified gunmen attacked Wala Village, about 130 km from Maiduguri, capital of the northeastern state of Borno, and killed about 18 people, Xinhua quoted a local daily as saying.

A security officer, who declined to be mentioned, also confirmed the attack, saying the Department of State Security (DSS) had been officially informed of the incident.

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20 killed in Nigerian attacks

Abuja : At least 20 people were killed in attacks launched by gunmen in two Nigerian villages, local media reported Wednesday citing witnesses and security sources.

Early Wednesday, unidentified gunmen attacked Wala Village, about 130 km from Maiduguri, capital of the northeastern state of Borno, and killed about 18 people, Xinhua quoted a local daily as saying.

A security officer, who declined to be mentioned, also confirmed the attack, saying the Department of State Security (DSS) had been officially informed of the incident.

Sikhs allowed to carry kirpans in Canadian missions

Toronto : The Canadian government has approved a new policy which allows Sikh visitors to Canadian diplomatic missions abroad to wear kirpans.

Sikh visitors will be permitted to retain their kirpans - a religious symbol - when entering Canadian missions abroad, a statement issued by the country's foreign affairs, trade and development ministry said.

However, the individual should secure the kirpans within a sheath, attached to a fabric belt and worn under the clothing across the torso.

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Upper house eases citizenship norms for Russian speakers

Moscow : The upper house of parliament Wednesday approved a law
making it easier for Russian-speakers to obtain citizenship.

"If these people or their ascendants live permanently or lived earlier in Russia or on a territory belonging to the Russian Empire or the Soviet Union, within Russian state borders," they can obtain Russian citizenship after giving up their previous citizenship, the law says.

The main criterion to get citizenship will be knowledge of Russian and its use in daily life.

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Ukraine on verge of civil war: Putin

Moscow : The escalation of conflict in Ukraine has brought the country to the verge of civil war, Kremlin said in a statement Wednesday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin during a telephonic conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel late Tuesday night warned of the possibility of civil war, the Kremlin press service said Wednesday.

The two leaders "exchanged opinions about the anti-constitutional course of the incumbent Kiev authorities towards the suppression by force of popular protests in southeastern Ukraine," the Kremlin statement said.

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New York Police ends spying on Muslims

Washington : New York Police Department has disbanded a controversial surveillance unit started after the September 11, 2001, attacks to catalogue information on Muslim businesses and mosques across the New York region.

Developed with the CIA's help after 9/11, the so-called Demographics Unit-or Zone Assessment Unit-has been the target of controversy and civil lawsuits.

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