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700 Militants Lay Down Arms in India's Northeast

Nearly 700 Indian separatist rebels laid down their arms on Tuesday at a ceremony that the government hailed as a major step towards bringing peace to the restive northeast region.

Home Minister P. Chidambaram said the move was the result of a series of peace talks and ceasefires that have dampened violence after decades of militant activity by separatist tribal groups.

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Islamist Suicide Bomber Attacks Ethiopian Troops in Somalia

An Islamist suicide bomber from the al-Qaida linked Shebab blew himself up Tuesday at an Ethiopian army base inside the central Somali town of Beledweyne, officials and insurgents said Tuesday.

"There was a heavy explosion that shook the whole the city, it occurred at a base where Ethiopian forces are stationed," local security official Mohamed Osman told Agence France Presse.

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NATO Claims 'Successful Year' in Afghanistan

A spokesman for NATO-led forces said Tuesday that 2011 had been a "remarkably successful year" against insurgents in Afghanistan and in the development of the Afghan security forces.

In the southern Taliban stronghold, "considerable advances" had been made in securing Kandahar city and its environs, said International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) spokesman Brigadier General Carsten Jacobson.

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Romney Considers Iran’s Closure of Strait of Hormuz an 'Act of War'

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney said Monday he would consider it an "act of war" if Iran was to shut down the Strait of Hormuz, a key transit route for global oil supplies.

"It is appropriate and essential for our military, for our navy to maintain open seas," Romney said at a debate between the four remaining Republican candidates in Tampa, Florida. "Of course it's an act of war."

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Fresh Blasts, Gunfire Heard in Violence-Torn Nigerian City

Fresh explosions and gunfire early Tuesday rocked an area near a police station in the Nigerian city of Kano, where coordinated attacks claimed by Islamists and shootouts left at least 185 dead last week.

Some 15 blasts and gunshots were heard coming from the vicinity of a mobile police headquarters. Details were not immediately clear, and police were not available for comment.

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French Senate Backs Ban on Denial of Armenia Genocide, Turkey Condemns Bill

French senators have passed a bill outlawing the denial of Armenian genocide in 1915, with a seething Turkey slamming the move and warning of consequences while Armenia hailed a day "written in gold."

The French Senate on Monday approved, by 127 votes to 86, the measure which threatens with jail anyone in France who denies that the 1915 massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Turk forces amounted to genocide.

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Cyprus Rivals Face Deadline to Keep U.N. Peace Talks Alive

U.N. leader Ban Ki-moon on Monday launched two days of talks with the rival leaders of divided Cyprus, with the Greek-Cypriot leader warning that a breakthrough would be "a miracle."

Ban is holding his fifth meeting with Demetris Christofias, head of the internationally recognized Greek-Cypriot government, and Turkish-Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, in the past three years.

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U.S. Says New EU Iran Sanctions 'Another Strong Step'

The United States said Monday that a European Union embargo on Iran's oil exports and other sanctions are "another strong step" to raise pressure on Tehran to curb its nuclear ambitions.

The EU agreed on an immediate ban on oil imports and a gradual phase-out of existing contracts between now and July 1. They also froze the assets of the country's central bank, but allowed for "legitimate trade" to continue.

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France Accuses Domestic Islamists of Training for Violence

French Interior Minister Claude Gueant said on Monday he had ordered a domestic Islamist group to disband, accusing it of training its members for "armed struggle".

Speaking on a visit to Mantes-la-Jolie in northwestern France, Gueant said: "It is unacceptable in our country that groups train people for armed struggle, for any opportunity for anti-establishment terrorism to present itself."

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Nigeria Police Find 8 Bomb-laden Cars in Violence-torn City

Nigerian police found eight bomb-laden cars in the northern city of Kano Monday as clerics said peace prayers after attacks that left over 160 people dead and stoked fresh fears of civil unrest.

President Goodluck Jonathan, facing his worst crisis of his nine-month tenure as he grapples with a surge in attacks by the Islamist sect Boko Haram and mounting social discontent, vowed to beef up security.

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