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Five Troops, 19 Civilians Killed in East Ukraine

Twenty-four people, including 19 civilians, were killed in the past 24 hours in clashes between government forces and pro-Russian rebels in east Ukraine, officials said Friday.

Pro-Kiev officials in the separatist region of Donetsk said dozens of people were also wounded in shelling across the industrial province. The Ukrainian military said 23 soldiers were injured in the fighting, which has claimed at least 5,100 lives over the last nine months.

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Top Iraq Kurd Officer among Six Killed in IS Attack

The Islamic State jihadist group killed a senior Kurdish commander and five fighters Friday in a major attack in Iraq's Kirkuk province, while bombings elsewhere left at least nine dead.

The IS assault on areas south and west of the northern city of Kirkuk began at around midnight, sparking fighting with medium and heavy weapons that was still ongoing Friday morning, a police brigadier general said.

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Aquino Vows Justice for Dead Commandos on Day of Mourning

Philippine President Benigno Aquino pledged justice for the families of 44 police commandos killed by Muslim rebels during a botched anti-terror operation, as he led tributes on Friday -- a national day of mourning.

The men were killed in confrontations with two rebel groups in the southern Philippines on Sunday while on a mission to catch or kill Malaysian bomb-maker Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan, who is accused of involvement in the 2002 Bali bombings in Indonesia in which 202 people died.

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Revelers, Employees of Pub and Restaurant Robbed at Gunpoint

Two masked gunmen robbed at dawn Friday revelers and employees at a pub and a restaurant in and near Beirut, the state-run National News Agency reported.

NNA said the armed men entered Lock Stock pub in the area of Mar Mikhael at around 4:00 am, robbed the customers after threatening them and escaped in a silver Kia Cerato.

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Taliban Claim Kabul Airport 'Insider' Killings

The Taliban on Friday claimed responsibility for an apparent "insider attack" at Kabul airport in which three American contractors and an Afghan were killed.

Details of the Thursday evening shooting are still unclear, with a spokesman for NATO's Resolute Support mission saying the incident is under investigation.

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NGO: Israel to Build 450 New West Bank Settler Homes

Israel on Friday published tenders to build 450 new settler homes in the occupied West Bank, a watchdog said, in a plan denounced by the Palestinians as a "war crime".

Settlements watchdog Peace Now tied the move to Israel's March 17 general election in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud is competing with other rightwing parties for the settler vote.

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Burundi Rivals Hold Talks to Ease Pre-vote Tensions

Burundi's ruling party has said it is "ready for compromise" with the opposition to ensure peaceful elections, as warnings mount of the risk of violence in the upcoming key polls.

Opposition politicians however said they were suspicious of the apparent olive branch.

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French PM Valls Stops Short of Calling China an Ally

Visiting French Prime Minister Manuel Valls shied away at the last moment from calling China and France faithful "allies" on Friday.

The description was included in the advance text of a speech to businessmen distributed to the press.

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Jumblat Says Abiding by Dissociation Policy Difficult amid Circumstances

Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat lamented on Friday the Baabda Declaration, stressing that abiding by the dissociation policy is no longer possible.

“Implementing the declaration among the circumstances (the country is passing through) is impossible... We should be patient,” Jumblat said in an interview published in An Nahar newspaper.

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Yazigi Says Election of President Safeguards Security, Stability

Greek Orthodox leader Youhanna X Yazigi has stressed that the election of a new president in Lebanon would create stability and help the authorities confront the regional turmoil.

Yazigi, who is the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, expressed regret that Lebanese lawmakers have failed to elect a successor to President Michel Suleiman, whose term ended in May.

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