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Niger Says 9 Security Forces Killed by 'Terrorists'

Nine security agents in Niger were killed on Thursday in multiple "terrorist" attacks in the western Tillaberi region near Mali, the government said.

"Terrorists staged simultaneous attacks. Five policemen, two gendarmes and two national guards were killed," the defense and interior ministries said in a joint statement.

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Afghanistan's Ghani Drops Pashtun Name from Official Documents

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has removed his tribal Pashtun surname "Ahmadzai" from all official documents, a spokesman told AFP on Thursday.

"The chairman of the Office of Administrative Affairs Abdul Salam Rahimi has sent a formal letter to all the ministries and state institutions to call the President of Afghanistan Mohammad Ashraf Ghani," said deputy presidential spokesman Fayeq Wahidi.

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African Union Hits Back at Somalia Rape Allegations

The African Union has hit back against claims its internationally-funded troops in Somalia have gang raped women and girls, accusing the rights group behind the report of being unfair and inaccurate.

In a letter of response to Human Rights Watch released by the AU on Thursday, the pan-African bloc also said the rights group had undermined peace efforts in war-torn Somalia.

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Russia's Top Rights Group Lists 46 'Political Prisoners'

Russia's most prominent human rights group on Thursday published a list of 46 "political prisoners," including Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and a Ukrainian pilot detained in Moscow, Nadia Savchenko.

Rights group Memorial publishes an annual list of those it deems to be political prisoners. The Kremlin denies Russia imprisons anyone for political motives but President Vladimir Putin's third term in office has seen a crackdown on the leaders of opposition protests.

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U.N. Chief Dispatches Envoy to Burkina Faso

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday dispatched a special envoy to Burkina Faso to help end a wave of violence engulfing the West African country.

The U.N. special envoy for West Africa, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, will be in Burkina Faso on Friday as part of a joint peace mission with the African Union and the West African grouping ECOWAS.

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Turkish Foreign Ministry, Norway Embassy Targeted by 'Suspect Packages'

The Turkish foreign ministry and Norwegian embassy in Ankara on Thursday received suspicious packages, officials said, the latest in a string of such incidents in the country.

Turkey's emergencies management agency AFAD said in a statement that both reported receiving the suspect packages in the morning.

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U.S. Calls on Iran to Make 'Tough Decisions' for Nuclear Deal

The world will know in the coming weeks if Iran can make the "tough decisions" needed for a nuclear deal, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday.

As the clock ticks down to a November 24 deadline for an agreement on reining in Iran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, Kerry vowed that global powers were going to be "very careful, everything will be based on expert advice."

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Mozambique Elects Nyusi as New President

Mozambique has elected Filipe Nyusi of the governing Frelimo party as the next president, the National Electoral Commission said Thursday in announcing final results of polls two weeks ago.

The former defense minister won 57 percent of the vote in the southern African nation -- sharply down on Frelimo's 75 percent victory in the last presidential election in 2009.

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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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