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Pope Slams 'State Terrorism' That Kills 'Innocents'

Pope Francis on Tuesday slammed "state terrorism" that "kills the innocent at the same time as terrorists".

It was not clear whom the pontiff was referring to in the remarks made on his plane returning to the Vatican from a visit to the European Parliament and Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France.

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South Sudan Says U.N. Sanctions Will Not Help Peace

South Sudan told the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday that imposing sanctions on warring sides would harden positions and complicate efforts to end nearly a year of fighting.

The United States has said it plans to present a draft resolution setting up a sanctions regime for South Sudan which has been engulfed in violence that has left tens of thousands dead.

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U.N. Rights Chief Warns U.S. on Police Racism

The U.N. on Tuesday urged the United States to investigate racial discrimination within its law enforcement and judicial systems, after a white officer who killed an unarmed black teen walked free.

"I am deeply concerned at the disproportionate number of young African Americans who die in encounters with police officers, as well as the disproportionate number of African Americans in U.S. prisons and the disproportionate number of African Americans on Death Row," U.N. rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said in a statement.

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Pakistan Media Owner Sentenced to 26 Years for 'Blasphemy'

A Pakistan court Tuesday sentenced the owner of the country's biggest media group to 26 years in prison for broadcasting a show it said was blasphemous.

The verdict against Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman along with the host of the show and two guests was announced by an anti-terror court in the city of Gilgit, which is controlled by Pakistan but part of the Kashmir region which India also claims.

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Dutch Arrest Three for Planning Jihadist Terror Attacks

Dutch police have arrested three men including an ex-jihadist fighter suspected of planning terror attacks and funding other fighters in Syria, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

The three men, two aged 26 and a third aged 30, were arrested in the southern Dutch cities of Eindhoven and Arnhem, the prosecutor's office said in a statement.

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5.6-Magnitude Quake Hits China's Sichuan Province

A 5.6 magnitude earthquake struck China's southwestern province of Sichuan on Tuesday, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The quake hit 25 kilometers (15 miles) northwest of the city of Kangding in the mountainous west of the province at 11:19 pm (1519 GMT) at a depth of 11 kilometers, the USGS reported.

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Ukraine Should Not join NATO Says Czech President

Conflict-ravaged Ukraine should remain neutral and stay out of NATO, pro-Russian Czech President Milos Zeman said during a visit to Kazakhstan on Tuesday.

"I strongly believe that Ukraine should become neutral and 'Finlandised'," the 70-year-old told the Czech news agency CTK in the capital Astana.

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Dutch Authorities Release Teen Rescued by Mum From IS

A Dutch court on Tuesday ordered the provisional release of a young woman being probed on terrorism charges after her mother rescued her from Syria, where she had married an Islamic State fighter.

"The judge has decided to free Aicha if she adheres to certain conditions," the Limburg regional court said in a statement.

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FARC Frees Soldiers, Demands Colombia Halt Army Operations

Colombia's FARC guerrillas freed two captive soldiers Tuesday but demanded the army halt operations to avoid jeopardizing the separate release of a general whose capture has derailed peace talks.

The release of the two soldiers is the first step in a deal aimed at salvaging a two-year-old peace process suspended by the government after the leftist rebels captured General Ruben Alzate on November 16, the highest-ranking captive they have taken in 50 years of conflict.

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U.N. Says Burundi Civil Society Facing Growing Harassment

Civil society activists in Burundi are facing an "unacceptable" and escalating levels of harassment when they question the government, the U.N. said Tuesday.

Michel Forst, U.N. Special Rapporteur for human rights defenders, said civil society activists and journalists face a "high number of cases of physical threats, anonymous phone calls, assaults, arbitrary arrests, and judicial harassment" ahead of elections next year.

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