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U.S., S. Korea Launch War Games Amid Threats by Pyongyang

U.S. and South Korean troops on Monday launched major annual land, sea and air exercises, amid North Korean threats to turn Seoul into a "sea of flames" in the event of any provocation.

The Key Resolve/Foal Eagle drills are the first of their type since the communist state's deadly shelling of a South Korean border island last November.

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17 Killed in Brazil Carnival Accident

Seventeen people were electrocuted during a freak accident at a large pre-Carnival parade, Brazilian police said Monday.

They said fireworks lit by partygoers caused a power line to fall on a tightly packed crowd dancing behind a large sound truck.

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French FM Alliot-Marie Resigns, Sarkozy Reshuffles Cabinet

French President Nicolas Sarkozy named former premier Alain Juppe as his new foreign minister Sunday, after Michele Alliot-Marie, tainted by her ties to the former Tunisian regime, resigned.

Juppe will be replaced as defense minister by Gerard Longuet, the leader of Sarkozy's center right party in the French Senate, the president announced in a brief televised address to the nation.

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North Korea Warns it Would Attack South over Joint Drills with U.S.

North Korea's military threatened Sunday to fire at South Korea, as Seoul prepared to start annual joint drills with U.S. troops — maneuvers Pyongyang says are a rehearsal for an invasion.

The North's military warned that it would shoot directly at South Korean border towns and destroy them if Seoul continued to allow activists to launch propaganda leaflets toward the communist country, Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency said. The warning was conveyed to South Korea's military earlier Sunday, it said.

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New Zealand Earthquake Toll Surges to 145 Dead

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key warned the country may be facing its greatest tragedy Saturday as the death toll from this week's earthquake surged to 145, with 200 missing.

Key said Tuesday's tremor, which toppled office buildings and rained debris on busy Christchurch streets, "may be New Zealand’s single most tragic event", outstripping a 1931 quake which killed 256.

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Bomb Kills Nine Civilians in Afghanistan

A roadside bomb killed nine civilians including women and children when it struck the vehicle they were traveling in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday, provincial police said.

The civilians were driving into Khost city, capital of Khost province, when the blast hit their van, deputy provincial police chief Mohammad Yaqoub Mandozai told AFP.

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‘Dark Days' in New Zealand as Quake Toll Rises to 113

New Zealand warned frantic relatives to brace for the worst Friday as toiling rescuers failed to find any more survivors after a devastating earthquake left at least 113 dead.

As rain hampered the painstaking search of the wreckage in Christchurch's city center, Foreign Minister Murray McCully admitted: "The rescue focus is drawing towards a conclusion."

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Four Dead as Militants Blow up 11 NATO Tankers

Militants in northwestern Pakistan blew up at least 11 tankers carrying fuel for NATO troops in neighboring Afghanistan Friday and shot dead four people, police said.

The rebels struck at a terminal on the outskirts of the city of Peshawar, which runs into Pakistan's lawless tribal belt.

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Saudi Held on Charges of Plotting Attacks on U.S. Targets, Bush's Home

A Saudi man has been arrested for allegedly buying chemicals and equipment to make a bomb and researching U.S. targets, including the Dallas home of former president George W. Bush, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday.

Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, 20, a Saudi national who came to Texas on student visa in 2008, was arrested late Wednesday and faces charges of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.

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Suicide Blast Kills One, Wounds 26 in Afghanistan

A suicide car bomb attack killed an intelligence agent and wounded 26 other people in an Afghan town on the Pakistan border Thursday, officials said, in the latest in a wave of blasts.

The explosives-packed vehicle with two bombers inside blew up in Spin Boldak after intelligence agents acting on a tip-off opened fire in a bid to stop it, Lutfullah Mashal, a spokesman for Afghanistan's national spy agency, said.

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