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Pakistani Taliban Sack Spokesman over Support for IS Jihadists

The influential spokesman of the Pakistani Taliban has been sacked for pledging allegiance to the Islamic State group and for feuding with his leader Maulana Fazlullah, according to a statement and senior commanders.

It is the latest sign of deepening divisions in the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which was formed in 2007 but has recently undergone numerous splits that analysts say have harmed its operational capacity.

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Reports: Japan Deputy PM Meets China Vice Premier

Japan's deputy prime minister Taro Aso met China's Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli Wednesday, Japanese reports said, as the Asian rivals pave the way for a possible summit next month.

Aso and Zhang chatted for "minutes" on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) finance ministers' gathering in Beijing, ahead of the forum's annual summit next month, according to Japanese media.

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Malaysia's Defense Minister Hopeful MH370 will be Found

Malaysia's Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said Wednesday his country was determined to find missing Flight MH370, as he was briefed by Australian officials leading the complex search deep in the Indian Ocean.

Hishammuddin, who is in the Western Australian port of Fremantle to inspect one of the search ships, the GO Phoenix, said the passengers and crew on board the Malaysia Airlines jet "remain in our thoughts and also in our prayers".

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Snowplough driver in Moscow Crash Says on Runway by Mistake

The driver of the snowplough that blocked the take-off of a private plane at a Moscow airport, killing the CEO of France's Total oil company, said he drove onto the runway after losing his bearings.

The grey-haired, 60-year-old driver told investigators he could not understand how he drove into the path of the plane, according to a video aired Wednesday on state-controlled Channel One state television.

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Mexican Soldiers Allegedly Executed 12 Surrendered Suspects

Mexican soldiers executed at least a dozen people who surrendered after a gunfight in June between troops and suspected criminals, a government human rights official said Tuesday.

The extrajudicial killings accounted for most of the 22 deaths recorded from the incident, which occurred in the central town of Tlatlaya on June 30, said Raul Plascencia, head of the National Human Rights Commission.

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Freed Vietnam Dissident Arrives in U.S., Vows Fight

A leading Vietnamese dissident freed by Hanoi was mobbed by supporters late Tuesday as he arrived in the United States, vowing to fight for democracy and other detainees in his home country. 

Nguyen Van Hai, one of Vietnam's most prominent bloggers, was freed two years after he was sentenced to 12 years in jail by a court in southern Vietnam on charges of "anti-state propaganda."

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Myanmar Migrants Retract British Tourist Murders Confession

Two Myanmar migrant workers accused of murdering a pair of British tourists on a Thai island have retracted their confessions and alleged they were tortured, lawyers said on Wednesday.

Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Tun were charged with the murder of David Miller, 24, and the rape and murder of Hannah Witheridge, 23, after the tourists' battered bodies were found on the island of Koh Tao last month.

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No End in Sight for Hong Kong Protests after Talks

Hong Kong student leaders said Wednesday they may shun further talks with the government, accusing it of failing to make any meaningful offers to end weeks of mass pro-democracy protests and roadblocks.

The comments are a blow to the city's Beijing-backed leaders who had expressed hopes for fresh rounds of talks after meeting students on Tuesday night for the first time.

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U.S. Marine Accused of Murder Moved to Philippine Military HQ

A U.S. Marine accused of murdering a transgender woman was moved to the Philippines' military headquarters Wednesday, authorities said, following huge public pressure for him to be moved off an American warship.

A U.S. helicopter delivered Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton to Camp Aguinaldo in Manila and will be jointly guarded by American and local troops, military chief General Gregorio Catapang said.

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S. Korea Scraps 'Christmas Tree' Tower Hated by North

South Korea said Wednesday it had dismantled a Christmas tree-shaped tower near the border with North Korea which had previously been used for a seasonal lights show that drew angry protests from the atheist regime in Pyongyang.

North Korea has repeatedly demanded the destruction of the 60-foot (20-meter) high steel tower on top of a military-controlled hill just three kilometers from the heavily-fortified border.

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