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First Migrants Enter Croatia after Hungary Seals Border

Several dozen migrants entered Croatia from Serbia early Wednesday, the first to enter the EU country after Hungary sealed its borders to thousand of people entering every day, an AFP correspondent saw.

The group of mostly Syrian or Afghan men, women and children crossed the border -- which was marked by nothing more than a stone -- early Wednesday morning and were picked up by police as they walked across a field.

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Ansar Dine Claims Mali Attacks, Threatens I. Coast and Mauritania

Jihadist group Ansar Dine on Tuesday claimed responsibility for two weekend attacks in Mali near the borders with Mauritania and Ivory Coast, and threatened to strike both countries.

Three soldiers and nine militants were killed on Saturday as a military camp came under attack in the town of Nara, according to the government, while public and police buildings were ransacked in Fakola on Sunday.

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France Says Belmokhtar 'Probably Dead', his Group Denies it

It is "very probable" that al-Qaida-linked militant Mokhtar Belmokhtar was killed in a U.S. air strike, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Thursday, but he admitted he could not be sure.

Belmokhtar is an Algerian believed to have been behind a number of attacks, including the 2013 siege of an Algerian gas plant in which 38 hostages, mostly Westerners, were killed.

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Three Mauritanians Jailed for IS Links

Mauritania has jailed three men for between five and 10 years for links with the Islamic State group, a judicial source said on Wednesday.

A court in the capital Nouakchott handed down the sentences late on Tuesday after a trial lasting just one day, the source said on condition of anonymity.

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Mali Peace Deal Threatened as Army and Rebels Clash

Armed insurgents exchanged fire with soldiers in Mali on Wednesday, plunging peace negotiations into disarray in the first clash this year between government forces and the main Tuareg rebel alliance.

A Malian army colonel said fighters from the Tuareg-led Coordination for the Movements of Azawad (CMA) had ambushed military positions in Lere, a central town near the Mauritanian border.

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Mauritania, Algeria in Diplomatic Crisis over Drugs Article

Mauritania and Algeria were embroiled in a diplomatic row Monday after the tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats over a contentious news article on drugs being smuggled from Morocco.

Mauritanian online news portal Al-Bayan has angered the authorities in Nouakchott by publishing an article claiming they had complained to the United Nations that Morocco was flooding Mauritania with drugs.

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U.N. Chief Set to Appoint Mauritanian Diplomat as Yemen Envoy

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday informed the Security Council that he plans to appoint Mauritanian diplomat Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed as his new envoy to lead peace efforts in Yemen.

Ban said in a letter that Cheikh Ahmed would "build on the achievements" of Jamal Benomar, who resigned last week after losing support from Gulf countries for his mediation efforts. 

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Mauritania Jails Senior Al-Qaida Figure

A senior Al-Qaida leader accused of planning attacks on the United States, Europe and Australia has been jailed for 20 years in Mauritania for "terrorist activities", a judicial source said on Tuesday.

Younis al-Mauritani was arrested in southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta in 2011 along with two other high-ranking jihadists in a joint operation by U.S. and Pakistani spy agencies.

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U.N. Chief Calls for New Push to Settle Western Sahara

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon called Friday for a new push to resolve the conflict over Western Sahara and stressed that cooperation to address human rights could help find a settlement.

In a report to the Security Council, Ban said Morocco and the Algerian-backed Polisario Front must "seriously engage" with his envoy and "intensify their efforts" to end the conflict over the north African territory.

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Mali Says Concept of People of Azawad 'Does Not Exist'

Mali has urged separatist rebels in the north to commit to a peace deal signed by the government several weeks ago, saying their claimed homeland "does not exist."

The Algiers Agreement, hammered out over eight months of tough negotiations, aims to bring a lasting peace to a sprawling area of northern desert that the rebels refer to as "Azawad."

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