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Philippines Sends Newest Warship to Disputed Waters

The Philippines launched its newest warship on Wednesday, a former U.S. coast guard cutter that President Benigno Aquino said would be deployed to waters at the heart of a territorial dispute with China.

Aquino said the 115-meter Gregorio del Pilar would lead patrols in the parts of the South China Sea that the Philippines claims exclusively as its own and where exploration for potentially lucrative gas fields is underway.

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U.S. Soldier in WikiLeaks Case to Get His Day in Court

A year and a half after his arrest, Bradley Manning, the U.S. soldier accused of turning hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. documents over to WikiLeaks, gets his first day in court on Friday.

Manning, who turns 24 on Saturday, is scheduled to appear at a preliminary military hearing at Fort Meade near Baltimore, Maryland, the headquarters of the top secret National Security Agency.

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U.N. Asks for $7.7 Billion in 2012 Aid Funding

The United Nations said on Wednesday it needed $7.7 billion in aid funding for 16 countries next year, with the biggest chunk to go towards helping victims in drought-devastated Horn of Africa.

Some $1.5 billion in funds are destined for Somalia, where 250,000 people are at risk of imminent death.

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Roadside Bomb Kills Afghan District Chief

A roadside bomb killed an anti-Taliban district governor and two of his bodyguards Wednesday in southern Afghanistan's volatile Helmand province, an official said.

The governor of Khan Neshin district, Massoud Khan, was a fierce opponent of drug smugglers and the Taliban, who issued him with death threats, provincial spokesman Daud Ahmedi told Agence Francce Presse.

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Report: Turkish Police Detain 6 Qaida Suspects

Turkish police detained six people over alleged ties to the al-Qaida extremist network in western Turkey, Anatolia news agency reported on Wednesday.

Police arrested the suspects, including the alleged regional head of the outlawed organization, during simultaneous raids at different addresses in western town of Kemalpasa and province of Manisa, Anatolia said.

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Top Putin Ally Quits, Refuses to ‘Occupy Speaker Post for More than 2 Terms’

A leading ally of Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday he was quitting his post as Russian parliament speaker, after polls that saw the ruling party lose support and face protests against vote-rigging.

"I have decided to renounce my mandate as a member of parliament... It would be wrong to occupy the post of speaker for more than two terms," said Boris Gryzlov in a statement on the website of the ruling United Russia party.

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Pakistan President to be Discharged from Dubai Hospital Thursday

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari will be discharged on Thursday from a Dubai hospital where he has spent more than a week but will remain in the Gulf emirate to rest, his spokesman said Wednesday.

"All tests are clear and the doctors plan to discharge the president from hospital tomorrow to take rest at home and continue the heart medication," Farhatullah Babar told Agence France Presse.

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Belgian Gunman Killed himself after Spree

A lone gunman who went on a murderous spree in the Belgian city of Liege committed suicide after slaying three youngsters in a crowded square and killing a cleaning-woman, the prosecutor said on Wednesday.

"Nordine Amrani committed suicide with a bullet to the head," said Daniele Reynders at a press conference. "The coroner said he shot himself in the forehead. He left no message to explain his act."

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Panetta: U.S. Winning Conflict in Afghanistan

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Wednesday told troops during a visit to Afghanistan that the U.S.-led coalition was winning the 10-year conflict in the war-torn country.

"We're moving in the right direction and we're winning this very tough conflict," he told troops based in Paktika province, which shares a long, porous border with Pakistan's tribal belt troubled by Taliban militancy.

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10 Dead in Bomb Blast, Gunfire in Northeast Nigeria

A powerful bomb blast targeting soldiers followed by gunfire rocked the troubled Nigerian city of Maiduguri on Tuesday, with at least 10 people killed, an official and a hospital source said.

Residents claimed soldiers reacted to the bombing by shooting indiscriminately and burning homes, with troops having been accused of such abuses following previous attacks after alleging residents were complicit.

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