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Several leaders of the Islamic State group have been killed in US air strikes in northern Iraq in recent weeks, a US defense official said Thursday.

US brands movie studio hack a national security breach

The cyber attack that forced Sony Pictures to scrap a comedy about North Korea is a "serious national security matter," the White House warned Thursday, threatening an "appropriate response.

10,000 evacuated after WWII dud bomb found near Berlin

About 10,000 people had to be evacuated on Thursday after an unexploded 250-kilogramme (550-pound) World War II bomb was discovered in a city near the German capital.

MPs brawl as Kenya passes controversial terror law

Kenyan lawmakers on Thursday voted through a tough anti-terror bill amid chaotic scenes in parliament and a brawl between opposition and government MPs.

Boston suspect makes rare court appearance

Shaggy-haired, bearded and attentive, accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev made his first public appearance in 17 months Thursday, at a brief court hearing before his trial next month.

Dozens dead, wounded in car bomb attacks on Yemen Shiite militia

Twin car bomb attacks in Yemen's western port city of Hodeida targeting Shiite militiamen left dozens of people dead and wounded on Thursday, a security official said.

Pakistan massacre survivors vow to defy Taliban

Students grieving for their classmates massacred by the Pakistani Taliban Thursday vowed to defy the militants and return to school as soon as possible.

EU approves new sanctions as summit weighs Russia crisis

The EU agreed new sanctions against Russian-annexed Crimea Thursday to show resolve against Moscow as European leaders prepared to discuss Russia's spiralling financial crisis amid fears of the impact on their economies.

'Boko Haram' kidnaps 185 people in Nigeria

Boko Haram has kidnapped at least 185 people, including women and children, in northeast Nigeria, the latest mass abduction in a region where the military has repeatedly struggled to protect civilians, officials and witnesses said Thursday.

EU court says obesity can be disability

The European Union's highest court ruled Thursday that obesity can be considered a "disability" if it hinders an overweight person's performance at work.

EU approves new Crimea sanctions

The EU imposed additional sanctions Thursday on Crimea, banning all investment and cruise ships from its ports to force home the message the bloc will not recognise Russia's "illegal annexation" of Ukraine territory.

Merkel says Russia sanctions remain 'unavoidable'

German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed Thursday that Europe's goal remains a free and whole Ukraine and that Western sanctions against Russia remain unavoidable until that goal is reached.

Pakistan court grants bail to alleged Mumbai attacks mastermind

A Pakistani court Thursday granted bail to the alleged mastermind of the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, lawyers told AFP, prompting India to demand an appeal.

Jihadists claim 2013 murders of Tunisia secularists

Jihadists who have since joined the Islamic State group claimed twin murders of secular politicians that plunged Tunisia into crisis in 2013, in a video posted online Thursday.

Putin says economy will rebound as sanctions stiffen

President Vladimir Putin vowed Thursday that Russia would soon recover from the worst financial crisis of his rule and said his grip on power was firm, even as new Western sanctions and a run on the ruble pile on the pressure.

Cameroon army 'kills 116 Boko Haram fighters'

Cameroon's army said Thursday its troops had killed 116 Nigerian fighters from the Islamist Boko Haram group in the far north.

Dutch populist Wilders to be tried for 'fewer Moroccans' vow

Dutch far-right populist lawmaker Geert Wilders is be tried for inciting racial hatred after pledging in March to ensure there were "fewer Moroccans" in the Netherlands, prosecutors said Thursday.

Shame in China as village votes to expel HIV-positive boy

The plight of an eight-year-old Chinese boy with HIV, reportedly ordered to leave his village by 200 petitioners, sparked intense online soul-searching Thursday in a country where discrimination against sufferers remains rife.

'Boko Haram' kills 32, kidnaps scores in NE Nigeria

Boko Haram militants killed 32 people and kidnapped scores of others, including women and children, in a brutal attack on a village in the northeast, officials and a witness said Thursday.

At least 28 killed in Central Africa violence

At least 28 people were killed and dozens were injured in the latest clashes between armed groups in the Central African Republic, police said on Thursday.

Currency crisis poses Putin his biggest challenge

He crushed Chechnya's rebellion, pushed back Russia's frontiers and restored the pride of a nation humiliated by the demise of the Soviet Union.

Indian minister asks Gita be made national book, triggers debate

India's External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has asked the Indian government to declare the scripture Bhagavad Gita, India's "Rashtriya Granth" or national book, triggering a debate among media and intellectuals.

Hackers trick way into ICANN computers

The private agency that acts as a gatekeeper for the Internet said that hackers tricked their way into its computers.

Heavy snow kills 5, disrupts travel in Japan

At least five people have died in heavy snow that has blanketed swathes of Japan, reports said on Thursday, with more than two metres (6ft 7ins) lying in some places and more forecast.

EU summit to discuss crisis-hit Russia, economic plan

EU leaders on Thursday will discuss tense relations with Russia and punishing sanctions imposed over Moscow's actions in Ukraine at a summit led for the first time by Poland's Kremlin-wary former premier Donald Tusk.

US-Cuba ties thaw, but Congress may uphold embargo

US President Barack Obama's historic decision to renew ties with Cuba was a diplomatic triumph but he faces a tough battle with Congress over lifting the embargo at the heart of the dispute.

Australian PM says cafe siege 'horrific wake-up call'

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Thursday admitted Sydney's cafe siege was "a horrific wake-up call" as details emerged of the final minutes of the standoff which left the gunman and two hostages dead.

Nigerian military sentences 54 soldiers to death for mutiny

Nigeria has sentenced 54 soldiers to death by firing squad Wednesday for mutiny, assault, cowardice and refusing to fight Islamic extremists. The soldiers, including officers, were convicted on two charges criminal conspiracy to commit mutiny.

Palestinians present UN resolution on final peace deal

The Palestinians on Wednesday presented a draft UN resolution laying out terms for a final peace deal with Israel but sought to avoid a clash with the United States by saying they were open to negotiations on the text.

Sony cancels parody film as NKorea suspected over hack

Sony Pictures cancelled the release of a madcap comedy about North Korea that triggered chilling threats from hackers, as US investigators reportedly blamed Pyongyang for a damaging cyber-raid on the movie giant.

Pope leads global praise for 'historic' US-Cuba rapprochement

Pope Francis led a chorus of global plaudits for Wednesday's breakthrough in US-Cuban relations, hailed as "historic" in Europe and South America and prompting celebrations on the streets of Havana.

Iraq Kurds, coalition jets in major push to retake Sinjar

Iraqi Kurdish forces on Wednesday launched a broad offensive backed by mass bombing from US-led coalition warplanes to retake the northeastern Sinjar area from the Islamic State group.

Cuba coup for pope with the popular touch

Pope Francis's pivotal role in a landmark breakthrough in US-Cuba relations was the latest coup for a pontiff whose personality and popularity have made him an influential player on the global stage.

Colombia's FARC rebels declare unilateral ceasefire

Colombia's FARC guerrillas declared an indefinite, unilateral ceasefire on Wednesday in the 50-year conflict, saying they would only use weapons if they came under attack by the army.

Turkish marina, German-financed seaplane meet in Sibenik, Croatia

An intriguing example of quality tourism cooperation and a public private partnership in Croatia, as European Coastal Airlines flies into Sibenik.

Cuban prisoners freed in swap are heroes at home

The three Cubans released in a prisoner exchange that paved the way for a historic breakthrough Wednesday in Havana's Cold War standoff with the United States are celebrated as heroes back home.

More US cinemas cancel NKorea parody film

More major US cinema chains canceled Wednesday plans to screen the comedy film that has offended North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un, after mysterious computer hackers threatened attacks on theaters showing the movie, reports said.

Erdogan says EU can't give Turkey 'democracy lesson'

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday stepped up his rhetoric in a bitter row with the European Union over arrests of opposition media, saying the bloc has no right to give lessons in democracy and should itself "look in the mirror".

U.S., Cuba to restore relations after Alan Gross, 'Cuban 5' freed

The United States and Cuba have begun talks to fully normalize diplomatic relations after more than half a century of animosity stoked by a crippling embargo, U.S. support for anti-Cuba terrorism and repeated attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro.

Ukraine, pro-Russia rebels agree to resume peace talks

Ukraine's pro-European leaders and Kremlin-backed rebels agreed Wednesday to hold long-delayed peace talks that were backed by Russia in the heat of its devastating currency crisis.

Sierra Leone goes door-to-door to fight Ebola surge

Sierra Leone on Wednesday said health workers would go door-to-door as part of sweeping efforts to stem the spread of Ebola in the west of the country, which has also been hit by a ban on New Year revelries and travel restrictions.