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International

Britain slams Israeli settlement expansion in West Bank

London: British Foreign Secretary William Hague Thursday slammed Israel's recent steps towards settlement expansion in the West Bank, stressing that negotiations are the only way to peace, British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) announced Thursday.

"The UK condemns the decisions taken by the Israeli authorities to change the status of a significant amount of land around the illegal settler outpost of Netiv Ha'avot and to create a new settlement in Hebron," Xinhua quoted Hague as saying in a statement.

Israel frees three out of five Lebanese detainees

Jerusalem: The Israel army has released three out of the five people they had kidnapped Thursday near the Blue Line border with Lebanon.

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said the men were trying to cross the Israel-Lebanon border, Xinhua reported.

"The IDF soldiers identified suspects crossing the Israel-Lebanon border into Israel. Two suspects were detained and taken in for questioning," the IDF spokeswoman said.

Three men originally crossed the border into Israel, two of them were caught, while the third fled back to Lebanon, an Israeli security officer said.

Algerians vote to elect new president

Algiers : Some 23 million registered voters cast their ballots to elect their next president in Algeria's fifth presidential election.

Incumbent President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is one of the six candidates in the presidential poll.

Five other candidates include Louisa Hanoune, leader of Workers' Party, Moussa Touati, head of Algerian National Front, Ali Fawzi Rebaine, leader of the AHD 54 party, Abdelaziz Belaid, head of the Moustakbel Front, and Ali Benflis, a former premier of the country.

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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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