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French Forces Engaged in Large-Scale Operation in Mali, Says Army

Fighting between French military forces and jihadists continued overnight in northern Mali where soldiers are carrying out a large-scale operation, the army said Thursday after a staff sergeant was killed.

Thomas Dupuy, a 32-year-old Afghanistan veteran who belonged to a commando parachute group, was killed in violent clashes with hardline Islamists in Mali's Tigharghar mountain range early Wednesday, as part of an operation aimed at stemming the return of jihadists in the north.

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North Korea to 'Deepen' Probe into Kidnapped Japanese, Says Abe

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday that North Korea had told a delegation from Tokyo it would "deepen" an investigation into the Cold War kidnapping of Japanese citizens, according to a report.

"The North Korean side showed a policy to Japan that it will deepen (its) investigation from a new angle regardless of past investigations' results," Kyodo news agency quoted Abe as saying.

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FARC Admits its Actions Harmed Colombian Civilians

The Colombian rebel group FARC acknowledged for the first time on Thursday its actions have affected civilians and said it is ready to take "responsibility."

The admission comes as FARC and the Colombian government are engaged in peace talks in Cuba to end the country's long-running conflict.

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NATO 'Vigilant' over Russian Warplane Maneuvers

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday that the transatlantic alliance remained vigilant after an increase in Russian military maneuvers in European airspace.

"NATO is strong, it remains vigilant," he said during a visit to Athens.

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Compaore: Handsome Plotter whose Long Rule Turned Ugly

Blaise Compaore, the long-serving president of Burkina Faso, took power in a coup in 1987 but quickly swapped the "democratic revolution's" Marxist ideals for authoritarian rule.

The 63-year-old may have been re-elected four times since 1991, but it was often with dubious percentages of the vote.

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U.S. Condemns 'Senseless' Fighting in S. Sudan

Washington on Thursday slammed fresh fighting in South Sudan, and denounced the "senseless man-made conflict" that has left thousands dead and forced millions to flee their homes.

"The United States condemns in the strongest terms the latest attacks" by rebels in and around Bentiu, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a sharply-worded statement.

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Seven Indian Sailors Released by Somali Pirates

Seven Indian sailors kidnapped by Somali pirates more than four years were freed on Thursday, officials said.

The sailors were released in Harardhere, a coastal town north of Mogadishu, and were flown to the capital.

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N.Korea Threatens to Halt Cooperation on Human Rights

North Korea warned Thursday it would stop engaging with the international community on human rights issues if a resolution is presented to the United Nations requesting Pyongyang be referred to the International Criminal Court for possible prosecution.

A draft resolution is to be presented by the EU and Japan to the U.N. General Assembly later this week that is expected to harshly condemn rights abuses in North Korea, based on the findings of a recent U.N. report.

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EU Extends Belarus Sanctions for a Year

The European Union on Thursday extended sanctions against Belarus for an additional year, saying Minsk had not made enough progress on human rights to justify any other course.

The decision was taken "because not all political prisoners have been released ... and respect for human rights, the rule of law and democratic principles has not significantly improved in Belarus," a statement said.

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Kidnapped German National Freed in Nigeria

A German national who was kidnapped by gunmen last week in southwest Nigeria has been released, his employer, the construction firm Julius Berger, said on Thursday.

"Julius Berger Nigeria Plc is pleased to officially announce the release of the company's member of staff, who was abducted in Ogun State on 24 October 2014," a statement from the firm said.

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