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Dutch Villagers Evacuated over Flood Risk

Around 100 people were evacuated Thursday from a village in the northwest of the Netherlands as high waters threatened to overwhelm a dyke, local authorities said.

"About 60 households, including several farms, have been evacuated on a voluntary basis," local authority spokesman Michiel Zijlstera told AFP.

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Karzai Orders Transfer of U.S. Prison to Afghan Control

Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday ordered the transfer of the U.S. military prison at Bagram to Afghan control within a month, citing reports of human rights violations there.

Karzai issued the order after receiving a report detailing "many cases of violations of Afghan Constitution and other applicable laws of the country, the relevant international conventions and human rights," his office said.

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Tourist Bus Plunges off Bridge in Southwest China, Killing 18

At least 18 people were killed, including one child, after a speeding, overloaded tourist bus veered off an icy highway bridge in southwest China, local authorities said Thursday.

The 53-seat bus -- packed with 57 people -- plunged off the bridge in Guizhou province on Wednesday, leaving six others in critical condition, a spokeswoman for the local government told Agence France Presse.

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Pakistan Gunmen Kidnap British Employee of ICRC

Unidentified gunmen on Thursday kidnapped a British employee of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Pakistan's troubled southwestern province of Baluchistan, police said.

The official was seized in Quetta, the main town of insurgency-hit Baluchistan, which borders both Iran and Afghanistan.

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Diplomat: Turkey May Step Up Moves against Paris on Genocide

Turkey may step up action against France if the French Senate votes this month to outlaw denial of the Armenian genocide, a Turkish diplomatic source said Thursday.

"There may be a downgrading of the Turkish diplomatic representation in Paris. It is probable," if the upper house of parliament approves the bill criminalizing denial of the disputed 1915 genocide, the source told Agence France Presse.

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5.3 Quake Rattles Dominican Republic

A 5.3-magnitude quake rattled the Dominican Republic early Thursday, according to the US Geological Survey, but there were no immediate reports of damage in the Caribbean nation.

The epicenter of the medium-sized earthquake was 55 kilometers west of the capital Santo Domingo, at a depth of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles), the USGS said.

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103 Journalists Killed in 2011, Mexico Deadliest Place

A total 103 journalists were killed in 2011, with Mexico the most dangerous place to work for the media, Vienna-based press watchdog IPI said Thursday.

This was the second highest toll on record after 2009, when 110 journalists were killed while covering a story.

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Fistfight in Somali Parliament over Speaker Election

Fistfights erupted in Somalia's parliament late Wednesday as lawmakers elected a new speaker in a move condemned by the troubled nation's president as "null and void".

Several supporters of Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan -- sacked as speaker in a controversial move last month by 280 MPS -- were injured in the latest of several parliamentary brawls.

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Taliban Kill 16 Kidnapped Pakistan Troops

The bodies of 16 members of Pakistan's paramilitary Frontier Constabulary (FC) were found Thursday, almost two weeks after they were kidnapped from a northwestern town, officials said.

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the killings.

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Nigerian Police Beat Protesters, Fire Tear Gas

Police fired tear gas and beat protesters Thursday to force them out of a square they had occupied in Nigeria's main northern city as part of demonstrations over soaring fuel prices, an organizer said.

"Around 1:15 this morning, the policemen assisted by local vigilantes fired tear gas on us, and when we refused to budge they used gun butts and cudgels to beat us while police vans ran into the crowd," Audu Bulama, one of the protest organizers, told Agence France Presse.

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