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17 Killed in Clashes between Somali Forces, Islamists

Clashes pitting Somali government forces and their African Union allies against Islamist rebels for control of Mogadishu's main market left at least 17 civilians dead on Thursday, officials said.

Many of the victims died when stray artillery fire hit a bus station where people were waiting.

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Three Killed in Attack on Afghan Road Project

A policeman and two security guards were killed Thursday in an attack on checkpoints set up to protect a road construction site in southern Afghanistan, an official said.

A group of armed militants stormed three checkpoints early Thursday on a road project linking the volatile Chora district to Trinkot, the capital of Uruzgan province.

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Gates Denies U.S. Wants to 'Hold China Down'

The United States is not looking to "hold China down" but is worried about its new weaponry and wants a stronger dialogue with its expanding military, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday.

Gates, speaking to reporters on his plane en route to a security forum in Singapore, said he was encouraged by recent signs of progress in security ties with China even amid the rapid military buildup.

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World Leaders in Rome as Mideast Diplomacy Heats Up

Security forces locked down central Rome on Thursday as world leaders including the Israeli and Palestinian presidents gathered for celebrations to mark the founding of the Italian republic in 1946.

The Afghan, Argentinian and Russian presidents were also among the more than 80 international delegations taking part, along with U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.

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Taliban Attacks Border Checkpost in Pakistan, Kills 28

Hundreds of heavily armed Taliban besieged a Pakistani checkpost on the Afghan border for a second day Thursday, killing 23 police and five civilians in the deadliest fighting for months.

A senior police official told Agence France Presse that 500 militants, including Afghan Taliban from across the border and Pakistani Taliban, took part in the attack which began before dawn on Wednesday and continued more than 24 hours later.

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U.S. Calls for Sudan Leaders to Meet on Abyei

The United States called Wednesday on Sudan's northern and southern leaders to meet immediately to defuse a crisis over the disputed Abyei border region and help save a 2005 peace agreement.

Johnnie Carson, the top U.S. diplomat for Africa, renewed U.S. condemnation of the May 21 seizure of Abyei by troops serving the northern-based government of President Omar al-Bashir and repeated American calls for them to withdraw.

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Ivory Coast Announces New Government

Ivory Coast announced a new government Wednesday in another step towards re-establishing itself after a five-month dispute over presidential elections that descended into deadly violence.

The line-up of 36 ministers does not feature the party of Laurent Gbagbo, the former president who refused to step down after November elections, leading to the violence.

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6.4 Magnitude Quake Shakes Chile

A magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck off the southcentral coast of Chile on Wednesday in an area hit by a major temblor last year, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The tremor caused panic in some communities but there were no immediate reports of deaths or major damage, and there were no tsunami warnings from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii.

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Gates: U.S. Military Remains Committed to Asia

Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Tuesday said the U.S. military will preserve its presence in the Pacific despite possible Pentagon budget cuts.

Gates, speaking during a stop in Hawaii, said he planned to tell a security conference in Singapore this week that budget pressures would not alter Washington's role in Asia.

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Pakistan Orders Probe into bin Laden Fiasco

Pakistan on Tuesday ordered an investigation to discover "the full facts" of how Osama bin Laden lived undetected, likely for years, on its soil until being killed in a U.S. commando raid on May 2.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani announced that an independent commission would probe the circumstances of the al-Qaida chief's presence in Abbottabad, a garrison town north of Islamabad, where he was gunned down by U.S. Navy SEALs.

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