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Sudan Reinforces Army in South Darfur Ahead of Split

Sudan is beefing up security in areas of South Darfur close to the southern border for fear of unrest around the country's imminent partition, the state's deputy governor said on Wednesday.

"The state has started to increase security in areas on the border with south Sudan to be ready for any disturbances coinciding with separation," Abdelkarim Mousa was quoted as saying by the Sudan Media Centre, a website close to the security forces.

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5 Dead, 36 Wounded in Iraq Attacks

Bomb and gun attacks in Baghdad and northern Iraq on Wednesday killed five people and wounded 36, 15 of them policemen, officials said.

A car bomb in the al-Ghazaliyah district of west Baghdad killed one civilian and wounded nine people, three of them policemen, an officer said.

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U.S. 'Concerned' at Stiff Bahrain Opposition Sentences

The United States voiced concern Wednesday over a ruling by a Bahraini court to sentence eight Shiite opposition activists to life in prison.

"We are concerned about the severity of the sentences handed down... in Bahrain. We're also concerned about the use of military courts to try these civilians," State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner told reporters.

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Egypt Islamists Ally with Seculars for Key Election

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood has joined forces with 17 other parties, including liberals and leftists, to form a common platform for parliamentary elections, as it seeks to allay fears among secular groups and the country's Christian minority.

In a meeting on Tuesday, the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, the liberal Wafd party, the left-leaning Tagammu and the Noor party, newly formed by Salafist Muslim hardliners, said they would "channel their efforts ... into building a state of law based on citizenship, equality and sovereignty of the people."

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Obama to Host NATO Summit on Afghanistan in 2012

U.S. President Barack Obama will host a NATO summit on Afghanistan in his hometown of Chicago in May 2012, along with the G8 meeting of leaders of industrialized nations, a U.S. official said Wednesday.

Obama will make the announcement about the NATO meeting devoted to progress in the Afghan war during his primetime address laying out a troop drawdown strategy at 8:00 pm Wednesday (0000 GMT), the official said on condition of anonymity.

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Ban Urges Security Council to Overcome Divisions on Syria

U.N. leader Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad lacked "credibility" and urged the U.N. Security Council to overcome divisions on the Syria crisis.

"I do not see much credibility (in) what he has been saying," Ban told a small group of reporters in an interview to mark his reelection as secretary general.

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Indonesia to Stop Sending Maids to Saudi over Beheading

Indonesia will suspend sending domestic helpers to Saudi Arabia after the beheading of a maid convicted of murdering her Saudi employer, a minister said Wednesday.

"The Indonesian government has decided to impose a moratorium on sending workers to Saudi Arabia," Labor Minister Muhaimin Iskandar was quoted by state news agency Antara as saying.

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Israel Security Cabinet Meets in Jerusalem Nuclear Bunker

Israel's security cabinet on Wednesday met for the first time in a secret nuclear bunker in Jerusalem, officials and press reports said, as part of a massive nationwide defense exercise.

As air raid sirens cut through the air at 11:00 am (0800 GMT), the 14-member security cabinet was safely ensconced inside the underground bunker which is located somewhere in the hills around Jerusalem, Israel's main newspapers and radio stations reported.

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Chelsea Appoint Villas-Boas as Coach

Chelsea have appointed FC Porto boss Andre Villas-Boas as their new manager in a record-breaking deal, a club statement announced on Wednesday.

The 33-year-old, who emerged as the front runner for the job after resigning as Porto coach on Tuesday, has signed a three year contract.

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FIFA Report: Bin Hammam Tried to Bribe

Mohammed bin Hammam tried to bribe officials in his campaign to oust Sepp Blatter as FIFA president, according to a secret report by the organization’s ethics committee obtained by Britain's Press Association.

There was "comprehensive, convincing and overwhelming" evidence against Bin Hammam, the head of the Asian Football Confederation, and former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner was "an accessory to corruption", the report said.

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