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Five Dead, 16 Missing in Rio High-Rises Collapse

Rescue teams frantically dug through rubble Thursday for 16 people missing after three office buildings collapsed in the historic heart of Rio, killing at least five people and injuring six, officials said.

The collapse, apparently caused by structural problems, occurred late Wednesday near the municipal theater on the city's Cinelandia square, in a historic district bustling by day but nearly deserted at night.

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Ethiopian Court Jails Journalists, Opposition Leader

An Ethiopian court on Thursday handed out heavy jail sentences to five people on terrorism charges, including three journalists and an opposition leader, with one receiving a life term.

"The court sentenced every one of them, from 14 years to life in prison," one of the case's public prosecutors told Agence France Presse, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

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Barbs Fly as Republican Race Tightens

Republican White House hopefuls Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich traded barbs Thursday on immigration and character ahead of a final debate showdown before Florida's ultra-competitive and all-important primary.

The frontrunners -- locked in a virtual tie in the polls -- spent Wednesday courting Latino voters and sniping at each other as they battled for the chance to take on Democratic President Barack Obama in the November election.

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German Kidnapped on Outskirts of Nigeria's Kano

Gunmen on Thursday abducted a German engineer working with a construction company on the outskirts of the violence-hit Nigerian city of Kano, police said.

A driver along with two other assailants "came and abducted the engineer Raupach Edgar, attached to Dantata and Sawoe construction company," said police spokesman Magaji Majia.

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NATO Will Not Return to Libya despite Clashes

NATO has no intention of launching new air operations in Libya despite deadly clashes taking place in a former bastion of late dictator Moammar Gadhafi, the alliance chief said Thursday.

Fighting erupted in the oasis town of Bani Walid earlier this week, three months after NATO ended its air war in Libya and declared it had accomplished its mission to protect the civilian population.

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Key Darfur Rebel Group Says New Leader Chosen

A key rebel group in Sudan's troubled Darfur region said on Thursday it has chosen a one-time university professor to head the movement after his brother, the former leader, was killed last month.

At a two-day meeting in South Kordofan state, the Justice and Equality Movement selected Gibril Ibrahim to replace his brother Khalil, the group's spokesman Gibril Adam Bilal told AFP.

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Ahmadinejad Says Ready for Nuclear Talks, Oil Embargo Will Not 'Hurt' Iran

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Thursday that Iran is ready to sit down with world powers for talks on its nuclear program as he brushed off the harmful effect of newly imposed sanctions.

"They have this excuse that Iran is dodging negotiations while it is not the case...," the Iranian leader was quoted as saying by state media. "Why should we run away from the negotiations?"

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U.N .Seeks International Conference on Divided Cyprus

U.N. leader Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday he will call an international conference on ending the division of Cyprus this year if leaders of the rival sides make "decisive" steps to overcome disputes.

He said the conference could be in April or May, but reported only "limited progress" from two days of talks this week with Demetris Christofias, head of the internationally recognized Greek-Cypriot government, and Turkish-Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu.

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Nigeria Arrests 200 after Attacks, Mostly Chadians

Nigeria has made some 200 arrests after last week's bombings and shootings in the city of Kano, with most of those detained Chadian "mercenaries", a senior police source said Thursday.

"Many arrests have been made since the attacks," the police source said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly following Friday's attacks that killed at least 185 people.

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Iran MPs to Retaliate by Possible Ban on Oil Exports to Europe

Iran's parliament is expected to consider next week a bill to ban oil exports to Europe after the bloc imposed an embargo on oil from the Islamic republic, media quoted deputies as saying Thursday.

The parliament's energy commission "is finalizing a bill to halt oil exports to Europe," the body's spokesman, Emad Hosseini, said in widely reported comments.

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