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Rights Group: China 'Executed 2,400' Last Year

The world's top executioner China put 2,400 people to death last year, a U.S.-based rights group said Tuesday, shedding rare light on a statistic Beijing considers a state secret.

The figure was a fall of 20 percent from 2012, the Dui Hua Foundation said, and a fraction of the 12,000 in 2002.

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U.S. Urges Congo to Rescind Expulsion of U.N. Rights Envoy

The United States on Monday urged Kinshasa to reverse a decision to expel the U.N.'s rights envoy to the Democratic Republic of Congo after a damning report on police violence.

Washington was "deeply concerned" by the decision to expel Scott Campbell, the envoy of U.N. Human Rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein to the strife-torn country, the State Department said.

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Sudan Ruling Party Names Bashir Possible Choice for Presidency

Sudan's ruling party Monday named President Omar al-Bashir as a possible candidate for the country's April presidential elections, an adviser said, despite doubts he would stand again.

After taking power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989, it had been unclear in recent years whether Bashir would run again in next year's polls.

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Total Oil Company CEO Dies in Moscow Plane Crash

The CEO of French oil giant Total, Christophe de Margerie, died in a plane crash at a Moscow airport late Monday when the private jet he was using struck a snowplough on takeoff.

Russian investigators said Tuesday the driver of the snow-clearing machine was drunk and that his actions, along with "an error by air traffic controllers", appeared to be to blame for the crash.

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Former Pinochet Bodyguard Arrested for Regime Era Murders

A former bodyguard of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was arrested Monday along with nine other former officials for the kidnapping and murder of 13 people during the military regime.  

Cristian Labbe, who belongs to the ultra-conservative Independent Democratic Union, was accused of illicit association with police, military personnel and civilians alleged to have tortured and killed the regime opponents.

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Officials: Canadian Car Attacker was Suspected Radical

The young man killed by police Monday after he ran over two Canadian soldiers with his car in a Quebec parking lot was known to authorities as a suspected radical, officials said.

One of the two soldiers is in critical condition in the hospital in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) south-east of Montreal, while the other was not as seriously injured, officials have said.

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Separate Peace Talks for Colombia's ELN and FARC Rebels

Colombia's two top rebel groups, the ELN and the FARC, will hold separate peace talks with the government, the ELN said Monday, as the sides aim to end decades of conflict.

The National Liberation Army (ELN), said its negotiations will be held parallel to the ongoing talks between the government and the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

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U.N. Surveillance Drone Crashes in Eastern DR Congo

A surveillance drone from the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo crashed in the east of the country Monday without causing any injuries, the UN said.

The unmanned aircraft went down "shortly after taking off from the airport in Goma," Charles-Antoine Bambara, a spokesman for the UN mission in the country (MONUSCO), told AFP.

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U.S. Drone Crashes at Niger Airport

A U.S. drone crash-landed at Niger's main airport for unknown reasons on Monday, the U.S. army said, forcing the closure of the runway for several hours.

The "hard landing" of the unarmed MQ-9 Reaper aircraft damaged the runway at Diori Hamani International airport in the Niger capital Niamey, but no injuries were reported, according to a statement from the U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Africa public affairs directorate.

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Obama Votes Early in Chicago

President Barack Obama cast his ballot Monday during a visit in his hometown of Chicago two weeks ahead of November 4 mid-term elections.

"I love voting. Everybody in Illinois, early vote. It's a wonderful opportunity," Obama said after submitting his vote at the Martin Luther King Jr Park & Family Entertainment Center.

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