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Indonesian Volcano Erupts, Triggering Mass Evacuation

A series of eruptions at an Indonesian volcano threw rocks, lava and ash hundreds of meters into the air and forced thousands of people to flee, officials said Friday.

Mount Lokon on Sulawesi Island burst into life late Thursday and continued to spew ash and searing gas into the air well into the morning, prompting more than 4,400 residents to head to safety.

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NATO to Probe Afghan Civilian Death Claims

NATO said Friday it would investigate Afghan claims that six civilians were killed during a military operation targeting the al-Qaida-linked Haqqani network.

Provincial government officials said the six, one of them an 11-year-old girl, died during an operation on Thursday in the eastern province of Khost.

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Sudan Inks Peace Accord with Darfur Rebels

Sudan's government and a Darfur rebel group, the Liberation and Justice Movement, on Thursday signed a peace accord in Doha, as a key rebel faction rejected the deal.

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir and leaders of Chad, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Eritrea and Qatar attended the signing of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur, a fruit of talks sponsored by the African Union, United Nations and Arab League.

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South Sudan Becomes Newest Member of U.N.

South Sudan Thursday became the newest member of United Nations, as it joined the world's top club amid pledges to help one of the planet's poorest states take its first steps.

"I declare South Sudan a member of the United Nations," said Joseph Deiss, president of the U.N. General Assembly, after a vote by acclamation admitted the country as the U.N.'s 193rd member.

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Sarkozy Calls Top Security Officials over Afghanistan Attack

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Thursday he would convene an emergency meeting of his top security officials after five French soldiers were killed in a suicide attack in Afghanistan.

Sarkozy told reporters during Bastille Day celebrations in France that the country's Security Council would meet at his Elysee palace later in the day.

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Bomber Kills 4 at Memorial for Afghan President's Brother

A suicide attack on Thursday struck memorial prayers for the assassinated brother of the Afghan president, killing four people including a senior cleric in a mosque, officials said.

Interior ministry spokesman Siddiq Siddiqi said 13 people were also wounded when the bomber blew himself up in the southern city of Kandahar, where cabinet ministers visiting from the capital Kabul had been in attendance.

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Belgium to Ban the Burqa Next Week

Belgium will enforce a burqa ban from July 23 with a fine and possible jail time for women who wear it, joining France as the second EU nation to forbid full veils, Belgian media said Thursday.

The new law was published Wednesday in the kingdom's official journal after deputies approved it unanimously in parliament in April.

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U.N.: Afghan Civilian Casualties Rise 15%

The number of civilians killed in the Afghan war in the first half of 2011 rose 15 percent, the United Nations said Thursday, putting the year on track to be the deadliest in a decade.

The disturbing rise in deaths came after the United States sent thousands of extra troops into Afghanistan and said levels of violence in the 2011 fighting season would be an indication of the extent to which it had worked.

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Turkey's PM Announces New Cabinet

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan Wednesday unveiled Turkey's new cabinet after his Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) won a third straight term in power in the June 12 elections.

Apart from Erdogan, the line-up included 25 ministers, both outgoing cabinet members and newcomers.

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Venezuela Sends Opposition Politician to Jail for 2 Years

A Venezuelan court Wednesday sentenced opposition figure Oswaldo Alvarez to two years in prison for disseminating false information during a television show in March 2010, prosecutors said.

In a statement, prosecutors said Alvarez, a former governor of Zulia state, was convicted for saying that "Venezuela had become a drug trafficking hub."

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