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Obama in Surprise Visit to Cuban Community Church in Miami

President Barack Obama paid a surprise visit Thursday to a Miami religious shrine popular with Cuban exiles, amid moves by Washington and Havana to normalize ties after five decades of enmity.

"The president is visiting the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity in Miami to pay his respects to the Cuban-American diaspora that worships there," said Bernadette Meehan, National Security Council spokeswoman.

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HRW Says Mexico Must Probe Possible 'Extrajudicial Police Executions'

A U.S.-based human rights group urged Mexican prosecutors Thursday to investigate whether police committed extrajudicial executions after a "shootout" left 42 suspects dead, raising questions about the lopsided death toll.

Human Rights Watch joined security experts and relatives of the drug cartel suspects in questioning the official account because only one officer was killed and three people were detained in the gun battle.

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U.S. Indicts 15 Chinese in College Test, Passport Scam

A U.S. grand jury has indicted 15 Chinese citizens with conspiracy, fraud and forging passports as part of a scam to fake college entrance examinations, prosecutors said Thursday.

U.S. Attorney David Hickton for the Western District of Pennsylvania unsealed the 35-count indictment and named 12 of suspects. The identities of the other three remain under seal.

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Three Wounded as U.N. Convoy Triggers Landmines in Mali

Three United Nations troops were wounded on Thursday when a convoy including the head of peacekeeping in Mali triggered landmines in the country's restive north, sources within the force said.

MINUSMA commander Major General Michael Lollesgaard and the mission's police chief "escaped death on Thursday in the Timbuktu region when mines on the route of their convoy wounded three peacekeepers from Burkina Faso," a civilian manager in the force told AFP.

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5 Republicans Neck and Neck in 2016 U.S. Presidential Race

Five White House hopefuls are tied atop the Republican nomination race, a national poll released Thursday showed, making it anyone's guess who will battle Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016.

The leading quintet, who include former Florida governor Jeb Bush -- who has yet to declare his candidacy -- and Senator Marco Rubio, were clustered at 10 percent support each, with none beating the early frontrunner Clinton in head-to-head matchups.

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Frenchwoman Jailed for 18 Months for 'Torturing' Boyfriend

A Frenchwoman who kept her boyfriend as a "domestic slave", forcing him to ingest sponges and window cleaner, was Thursday sentenced to three years in prison, half of which was suspended.

Zakia Medkour, 43, was also ordered to pay 200,000 euros ($217,000) in damages to her ex-boyfriend Maxime Gaget, 37, for crimes which the prosecution said went "beyond violence" with a "female torturer and a male victim."

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Judge to Sentence Boston Bomber to Death June 24

Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a 21-year-old naturalized American of Chechen descent, will be formally sentenced to death in court on June 24, a U.S. judge said Thursday.

Judge George O'Toole's sentencing comes after a jury decided unanimously that Tsarnaev should die for his role in the 2013 Boston Marathon attacks that killed three people and wounded 264 others.

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Ex-NY Governor Pataki Joins Republican Race for White House

George Pataki, the former governor who led New York during the September 11, 2001 attacks, on Thursday threw his hat into the crowded ring of Republicans running for the White House.

Announcing his bid for the presidency in a brief video, the 69-year-old centrist made an emotional appeal for national unity and promised to make America great once again.

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Qatar Pledges $50M to Indonesia for Hosting Myanmar Migrants

Gas-rich Qatar pledged $50 million on Thursday to help Indonesia shelter Muslim Rohingya migrants from Myanmar, the official QNA news agency reported.

Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand have all prevented vessels overloaded with starving migrants from Bangladesh and from Myanmar's ethnic Rohingya minority from landing on their shores.

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U.N. Fears Stigmatization of Rescued Boko Haram Abductees

The United Nations voiced fears Thursday that rescued women and girls who became pregnant in Boko Haram captivity will face stigmatization in conservative Nigerian communities, and that their babies could become "untouchable."

"For those of them who have (become) pregnant as a result of rape, what are the options available to them?" asked Munir Safieldin, U.N. deputy humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria.

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