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Saudi Court Detains Rights Lawyer

A Saudi court has ordered the arrest of a prominent rights lawyer who was on trial for insulting the authorities and defying the ultra-conservative kingdom's ruler, his wife said Wednesday.

Waleed Abulkhair was already on bail for holding unauthorized meetings for reformists when he went to a fifth hearing of his trial at a Riyadh court on Tuesday.

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Rights Groups Say Sexual Violence against Egypt Women Going Unpunished

Sexual violence against women has been rife since the 2011 uprising in Egypt, where hundreds of female protesters have been the target of attack with apparent impunity, rights groups said Wednesday.

"Successive Egyptian governments have failed to address violence against women, with serious implications for women's participation in the political transition of their country," said a group of rights organizations led by FIDH, the International Federation for Human Rights.

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Egypt Jails Salafist ex-Presidential Hopeful for Fraud

A court jailed a Salafist leader to seven years for fraud Wednesday for keeping his mother's U.S. citizenship secret when filing candidacy papers in Egypt's 2012 presidential election.

The country's electoral law stipulates that a candidate's parents must hold only Egyptian citizenship.

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Ailing Bouteflika Urges Algerians to Shun Boycott Call, Eyes Fourth Term

Algerians are weighing their options for Thursday's presidential election, with ailing Abdelaziz Bouteflika urging a large turnout as he seeks a fourth term amid boycott demands and warnings of fraud.

More than 260,000 police have deployed to guarantee security in the 50,000 polling booths set up to accommodate the 23 million Algerians eligible to vote in the race being contested by six candidates.

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Yemen Qaida Chief Pledges to Fight 'Crusaders' Everywhere

Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) chief Nasser al-Wuhayshi has pledged in a rare video appearance to pursue the war against the Western "crusaders" everywhere possible.

The video posted online shows Wuhayshi addressing scores of jihadists in a rugged terrain as he welcomes 19 militants who escaped a Sanaa prison in February.

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Jordan Destroys 'Camouflaged' Vehicles Crossing from Syria

Jordanian warplanes destroyed "camouflaged" vehicles on Wednesday as they tried to cross into the kingdom from war-ravaged Syria, in the first such strikes since the conflict erupted three years ago.

A Syrian military source, cited by state television in Damascus, said the vehicles struck did not belong to Syria's armed forces, while Amman said an initial probe showed they were being used by arms dealers.

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Syria at 'Critical Moment,' China Tells Opposition Chief

Syria has reached a "critical moment" as the world awaits news of fresh peace talks, China's foreign minister told the warring nation's opposition leader Ahmad Jarba in Beijing Wednesday.

Wang Yi was speaking at the start of four days of talks with a delegation led by the head of the Syrian National Coalition, as Beijing attempts to portray a neutral stance in the three-year conflict.

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Israel, Palestinian Peace Meet Postponed after Killing

A meeting between Israeli and Palestinian peace negotiators scheduled for Wednesday has been postponed, an official said, after a fatal shooting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed on Palestinian leaders.

But Palestinians said the postponement came at the behest of the Americans, and to give time for U.S. envoy Martin Indyk to arrive in the region to attend.

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Bombers Hit Iraq Provincial Compound as Attacks Kill 19

Attacks including suicide bombings outside a provincial government compound killed 19 people in Iraq Wednesday, just weeks before a general election that will be a key test for security forces.

The latest violence comes a amid a protracted surge in bloodshed, fueled primarily by widespread anger among the Sunni Arab minority, and by the civil war in neighboring Syria.

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Medics: Gaza Blast Kills 3 Palestinians, Wounds 5

An explosion in the Gaza Strip killed three Palestinians and wounded five on Wednesday, a medical official said, but the reason for the blast was unclear.

The three killed were already dead on their arrival at hospital, and all were in their 20s, Hamas' health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra told Agence France Presse.

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