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Spanish Satellite Operator Drops Iran State TV

Spanish satellite operator Hispasat has dropped broadcasts by two of Iranian state broadcaster IRIB's channels because of EU sanctions against its chief, the Mehr news agency reported on Saturday.

The English- and Spanish-language channels Press TV and Hispan TV were no longer available via Hispasat from Friday because of the sanctions against IRIB head Ezzatollah Zarghami, Mehr said.

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Dead Darfur Peacekeepers 'All Ethiopian'

Three peacekeepers shot dead by one of their comrades in Sudan's troubled Darfur region were all Ethiopian, a source familiar with the incident told AFP on Saturday.

The shooter, who subsequently killed himself, was also from the East African country, the source said, asking for anonymity.

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Mob Kills Pakistani Accused of Desecrating Quran

An angry mob stormed a police station in southern Pakistan, dragged off a man held for allegedly desecrating the Quran and beat him to death, police said on Saturday.

The crowd of hundreds of villagers set the body of the man, believed to be mentally unstable, on fire after killing him on Friday in Dadu district of Sindh province, police said.

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Taliban Call for New Afghanistan Constitution

Afghanistan's Taliban has called for a new constitution as a pre-condition for it joining the nation's fledgling peace process, according to a declaration issued by representatives at a landmark meeting in France.

Representatives from the country's warring factions met Thursday for two days of talks that diplomats hope will bolster relations in the war-torn country.

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Suicide Attack Kills Pakistan Provincial Minister, 7 Others

A suicide bomber killed a senior provincial minister and seven other people at a political meeting in northwest Pakistan on Saturday, officials said, in an attack claimed by the Taliban.

The bomber struck when the top provincial leadership of the Awami National Party (ANP) had gathered at a meeting in the city of Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

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Russia Tells S. Sudan to Punish Guilty for Downed U.N. Chopper

Russia on Saturday urged South Sudan to punish those responsible for shooting down a U.N. helicopter, killing all four Russian crew members on board.

"We call on the government of South Sudan to carry out the necessary investigation, punish the guilty and take every measure to guarantee that this never happens again," the foreign ministry said in a statement on its website after Friday's incident.

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Pope Pardons Butler, Expels Him from Vatican

Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday pardoned his former butler Paolo Gabriele who was sentenced to 18 months in prison for stealing secret papal memos, but banished the once loyal servant from the Vatican forever.

"This morning the Holy Father Benedict XVI visited Paolo Gabriele in prison in order to confirm his forgiveness and to inform him personally of his acceptance of Mr Gabriele's request for pardon," the Vatican said in a statement.

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Suicide Bombers Attack Nigeria Telecom Firms

Two suspected suicide car bombers attacked the offices of two major telecoms companies in the volatile northern Nigerian city of Kano on Saturday, police and the army said.

One of the attackers blew himself up when he rammed his car into the office gate of the Airtel mobile phone company, setting the building ablaze, police said.

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Karzai Blames Foreigners for Corruption in Afghanistan

President Hamid Karzai on Saturday blamed foreigners for most of the corruption in Afghanistan and said the withdrawal of NATO troops in 2014 would help rid the country of graft.

More than 11 years after a U.S.-led invasion led to billions of dollars in aid flowing into one of the world's poorest countries, Afghanistan ranks among the most corrupt nations in the world.

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Italy Election Campaign Kicks Off Amid Monti Speculation

Italy's election campaign kicked off on Saturday amid uncertainty over whether Prime Minister Mario Monti will launch himself into the political fray and fight flamboyant billionaire Silvio Berlusconi for the top job.

Monti's resignation on Friday brought to a head weeks of speculation over whether the former eurocrat will play a major role in the February election, either as a candidate or a figurehead for parties that pledge to continue his reforms.

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