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Saudi blogger's Wife Says his Health Worsening

The health of a Saudi blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam and whose case attracted international concern is worsening, his wife said Thursday.

Raef Badawi, who could receive a round of 50 lashes on Friday, is suffering from hypertension and more flogging could weaken him further, his wife told reporters and lawmakers in Ottawa.

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Saudi King Announces Major Govt., Security Agencies Shake-Up

Saudi Arabia's new King Salman on Thursday further cemented his hold on power, with a sweeping shakeup that saw two sons of the late King Abdullah fired, and the heads of intelligence and other key agencies replaced alongside a cabinet reshuffle.

"Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud issued a royal order today, relieving Prince Khalid bin Bandar bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud, Chief of General Intelligence, of his post," the official Saudi Press Agency said.

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Death Toll in Egypt Sinai Attacks Rises to 25

At least 25 people were killed, most of them Egyptian soldiers, when militants fired rockets and set off a car bomb Thursday in the Sinai Peninsula, officials said.

The assault targeted a military base, a nearby police headquarters and a residential complex for army and police officers in El-Arish, the provincial capital, as well as a checkpoint in Rafah, on the border with Gaza, the security and health officials said.

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Gaza Flotilla Lawyers asks ICC to Reconsider Probe

Lawyers representing the Comoros on Thursday asked International Criminal Court judges to order its chief prosecutor to reconsider her decision not to probe Israel's deadly 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla.

The Comoros, which has referred the case to the ICC, "asks the Chamber to request the Prosecutor to reconsider her decision not to open an investigation," its lawyers said in papers filed before the Hague-based court.

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Syria Talks in Moscow End with no Concrete Result

Syrian representatives of President Bashar Assad's regime and opposition figures ended a two-day round of talks in Moscow Thursday without concrete result, except an agreement to meet again.

Syria's U.N. representative and head of the government delegation in Moscow, Bashar al-Jaafari, told reporters: "We agreed with our Russian friends that discussions will continue in order to hold a (new) consultative meeting in future."

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Syria Kurds Kill 22 Jihadists around Kobane

Kurdish fighters killed 22 jihadists around Kobane Thursday, days after recapturing the Syrian town, but the Islamic State group still controls hundreds of villages in the area, a monitor said.

"Nineteen IS members were killed in fighting against the (Kurdish) People's Protection Units (YPG) in the hills surrounding Manaz to the west of Kobane," said Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman.

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Syria Opposition 'Embassy' Renewing Passports in Qatar

Syria's opposition "embassy" in Qatar began Thursday to renew expired passports for some of the estimated 60,000 Syrians living in the tiny Gulf country, its chief said.

Nizar Haraki, the opposition envoy, said this would help thousands of Syrians who fled the country to escape the conflict, which has killed at least 200,000 people since it erupted in 2011.

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Double Suicide Attack on Iraq Militia Base Kills Six

A double suicide attack on a base housing Shiite groups fighting alongside the government north of Baghdad killed at least six people on Thursday, medical sources said.

"The car rammed an army checkpoint protecting access to the base" in Mishahada, a Baghdad hospital official said. The first blast killed at least three people, including a civilian.

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Women Rally against Egyptian Police after Shooting

Dozens of women protested Thursday against Egypt's police in the central Cairo square where a female demonstrator was shot dead on the eve of the anniversary of the 2011 uprising.

Shaima al-Sabbagh was killed during a leftist march Saturday in which participants were to place wreaths at a memorial in honor of protesters killed during the past four years.

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Tripoli Rivals to Join Peace Talks 'if Held in Libya'

The rivals of Libya's elected parliament agreed Thursday to join U.N.-mediated peace talks with the internationally recognized government if they are held on home soil.

The announcement by Salah al-Makhzoum, deputy speaker of the General National Congress (GNC), came as the United Nations said there was agreement in principle to hold future sessions in Libya, "provided that logistical and security conditions are available."

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