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  • U.S. condemns violence in Egypt, urges government to investigate

    WASHINGTON, Feb 4 (Reuters) - The United States strongly condemned on Monday violence against protesters and sexual attacks on women in Egypt and called on the government to investigate and to hold those responsible to account.

    The last 10 days or so have seen violence between protesters and security forces in which 59 people have been killed. In an incident that sparked particular outrage, police were caught on video beating and dragging a naked man during a protest on Friday.

    Hundreds more people have been wounded in violence that has flared on and off in Egypt since Jan. 24 - the eve of the second anniversary of the uprising that swept Hosni Mubarak, an authoritarian ruler and long-time U.S. ally, from power.

    The protests have been fueled by anger at what activists see as Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi's attempt to monopolize power, as well as a sense of social and economic malaise that has settled over Egypt since the uprising.

    "Egyptians participated in their revolution in order to bring democracy, in order to bring rule of law and freedom for all - not more violence, not sexual assault, and not looting," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters.

    "We strongly condemn the recent violence and the attacks that have taken place in Egypt. We are extremely disturbed by these incidents, including sexual assaults against women and the beating of a defenseless man last week," she added.

    "We urge the government of Egypt to thoroughly, credibly and independently investigate all claims of violence and wrongdoing by security officials and demonstrators and to bring the perpetrators to justice."

    The man who was beaten, stripped and dragged by police, Hamada Saber, 48, was shown on state television in a police hospital saying protesters had stripped him.

    He later reversed his statement and told a public prosecutor that riot police were responsible for the attack.
    The president's office said it was investigating the televised incident involving Saber and insisted there would be no return to the violations of human rights that prevailed under Mubarak.

    Opposition critics say little has changed, the Interior Ministry remains unreformed and the police have not been purged.

    (Reporting By Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)
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  • Syria's Alkhatib says ready to talk to Assad's deputy

    BEIRUT, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Syrian opposition leader Moaz Alkhatib said on Monday he would accept negotiations with Bashar al-Assad's deputy but said talks must be based on the principle of the regime's departure.

    Alkhatib, who was speaking after meeting Iranian, Russian and U.S. officials in Germany, told al-Arabiya news channel that he had asked Iran to deliver his negotiations offer to Assad's government.

    (Reporting by Mariam Karouny; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)
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  • Investigators expose global soccer fixing scam

    THE HAGUE, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Hundreds of soccer matches at club and national team level have been fixed in a global betting scam run from Singapore, police said on Monday, in a blow to the image of the world's most popular sport and a multi-billion dollar industry.

    About 680 suspicious matches including qualifying games for the World Cup and European Championships, and the Champions League for top European club sides, have been identified in an inquiry by European police force Europol, the European anti-crime agency, and national prosecutors.

    Read on.
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  • Facts about Richard III

    The last English king to die in battle was found under a car park over 500 years after his death. Here's a glimpse at his reign:
    • He was the fourth son of Richard, the third Duke of York. He became the last Plantagenet and Yorkist king of England. He usurped the throne of his nephew Edward V in 1483 and perished in defeat to Henry Tudor (thereafter Henry VII) in battle.
    • Born in 1452, he was still a child when his elder brother Edward IV became king. He helped his brother in battle and led the war against Scotland in 1480, securing Berwick in 1482. After Edward's untimely death in April 1483, Richard's future was put in doubt as Edward's sons were still alive. In a series of palace coups he secured power, first becoming protector and then king. He was crowned on July 6, 1483.
    • Months later the southern counties raised a rebellion in the name of Henry Tudor. Richard reigned for another two years in a climate of an ever-growing crisis. Richard and his royal army left Leicester in August 1485 and took position on Ambion Hill at Bosworth Field where he was killed on Aug. 22. He was known to have shouted "Treason - Treason - Treason" as he was killed.
    • Controversy remains over the killing of the sons of Edward IV, the Princes in the Tower. Even though there is no reliable evidence, it seems certain that they were killed some time in 1483. Richard's own possible justification for the killings was that he was the rightful heir because Edward IV’s children were illegitimate and therefore disqualified from the crown. Most have blamed Richard, who had the princes in his power and who evidently decided to conceal their fate.
    • Following his defeat and death, the victorious Tudors began rewriting history to destroy Richard’s reputation – a process that reached its zenith with Shakespeare's “The Tragedy of Richard III”, first performed in the 1590s.
    Reporting by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit

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  • British Prime Minister David Cameron meets the presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan at Chequers for peace talks. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

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  • EU to discuss Mali at special meeting this week -France

    Jan 14 (Reuters) - The European Union will discuss the crisis in Mali at a special foreign affairs meeting this week, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Monday.

    "We will take decisions allowing the acceleration of the deployment of the European advice and training mission for the Mali army," Fabius told a news conference, and added that France would do everything to ensure African troops were deployed quickly.
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  • Zoo owner Emmanuel Tangco reads a book to his snakes in his bedroom in Malabon, Metro Manila February 3, 2013. The Lunar New Year begins on February 10 this year and marks the start of the Year of the Snake. 
    REUTERS/Erik De Castro 
    by Clare Richardsonon Feb 4, 2013 at 2:38 PM

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  • A Free Syrian Army fighter fires a rifle as he enters a Syrian Army base during heavy fighting in the Arabeen neighbourhood of Damascus, February 3, 2013. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

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  • Egypt opposition in muddle over call to oust Mursi

    CAIRO, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Egypt's main opposition alliance has got itself into a muddle by appearing to endorse a call for the overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, then backing away.

    "The NSF will fully align [itself] to the demands of the Egyptian people calling to topple the regime of tyranny and domination of the Muslim Brotherhood," a statement by the National Salvation Front issued late on Saturday said.

    After a week of violence between protesters and the security forces in which 59 people have died, it called for Mursi, his interior minister and "all his partners in those crimes" to be investigated and put on trial for "killings, torture and illegal detentions".

    Read on.
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  • Protesters chant anti-Mursi slogans during a protest in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, February 1, 2013. Opponents of Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi hurled petrol bombs at his palace on Friday as protesters returned to the streets of Egypt demanding his overthrow after the deadliest violence of his seven months in power. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih

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  • One dead, dozens hurt as police clash with Egypt protesters

    At least one protester was shot dead and dozens wounded on Friday when riot police clashed with demonstrators demanding the overthrow of Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, witnesses said.

    Read on.
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  • Rights allegations in Mali cloud France Hollande's visit

    A French-led offensive against Islamists in Mali has led to civilian deaths from air strikes and ethnic reprisals by Malian troops, human rights groups said on Friday, a day before President Francois Hollande was due to visit the country.

    Read on.
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  • Moscow, UN play down report of four-way Syria talks

    AMMAN, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Moscow and the United Nations played down Syrian opposition assertions that its leader would hold a joint meeting with the U.N. Syria envoy and officials from the United States and Russia at a security conference in Munich on Saturday.

    But a Russian diplomatic source did not rule out a meeting taking place 'spontaneously' at the weekend Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe in the southern German city.

    Read on.
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  • Turkish police officers react after an explosion at the entrance of the U.S. Embassy in Ankara February 1, 2013, in this picture provided by Milliyet Daily Newspaper. A suicide bomber killed a Turkish security guard (not pictured) at the U.S. embassy in Ankara on Friday, blowing the door off a side entrance and sending smoke and debris flying into the street. Ankara Governor Alaaddin Yuksel said the attacker was inside U.S. property when the explosives were detonated. The blast sent masonry spewing out of the wall of the side entrance, but there did not appear to be any more significant structural damage. REUTERS/Yavuz Ozden/Milliyet Daily Newspaper/Handout

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  • White House says motivation not clear for US embassy bombing in Turkey

    WASHINGTON, Feb 1 (Reuters) - The White House said it is not yet clear who is responsible for a suicide bombing on Friday at the U.S. embassy in Turkey, the second attack on a U.S. mission in four months

    "The attack itself was clearly an act of terror," said Jay Carney, White House spokesman, in a briefing with reporters.

    (Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Vicki Allen)
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  • U.S., Turkish staff struck by debris in Ankara embassy blast

    WASHINGTON, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Several U.S. and Turkish staff at the U.S. embassy in Ankara were struck by debris from a suicide bombing that killed one Turkish guard on Friday, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

    The spokeswoman said a Turkish visitor to the embassy was in "serious condition" following the blast, which Turkish Interior Minister Muammer Guler said was carried out by a member of an illegal far-left group. Nuland said the staff members struck by debris were treated at the embassy clinic and released.

    (Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Vicki Allen)
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  • A general view of buildings damaged after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad, in Deraa, January 28, 2013, in this picture provided by Shaam News Network. REUTERS/Ali Abu Salah/Shaam News Network/Handout

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  • A Free Syrian Army fighter runs for cover during clashes in Haresta neighbourhood of Damascus February 1, 2013. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

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  • Curtains erected as protection from snipers loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad are seen in a neighbourhood of Homs, January 30, 2013. REUTERS/Yazan Homsy

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  • Jordan staggers under fallout of Syria conflict

    AMMAN, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Jordan has every reason to worry about the conflict in Syria, its bigger neighbour to the north.

    A flood of Syrian refugees and disrupted trade due to the 22-month-old revolt against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad burden a frail economy that has already had to turn to the IMF.

    Any emergence of Islamist rule in a post-Assad Syria could embolden Islamists who are the main opposition group in Jordan.

    And rising Islamist militancy among Syrian insurgents threatens the security of the Western-backed kingdom next door.

    Read on.
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  • Video: Bomb attack on U.S. embassy in Turkey
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  • Security officers inspect the site after an explosion at the entrance of the U.S. embassy in Ankara, February 1, 2013. At least one person was killed in an explosion in front of the embassy on Friday, the state-run Anatolian news agency and other media reported. REUTERS/Ihlas News Agency/IHA

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  • U.S. warns citizens against visiting Turkey missions after blast

    ISTANBUL, Feb 1 (Reuters) - The U.S. consulate in Istanbul warned its citizens against visiting its missions in Turkey until further notice after a suicide bomber killed himself and one other person in an attack on its embassy in Ankara.

    "The Department of State advises U.S. citizens traveling or residing in Turkey to be alert to the potential for violence, to avoid those areas where disturbances have occurred and to avoid demonstrations and large gatherings," the consulate statement added.

    (Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Nick Tattersall; Editing by Janet Lawrence)
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  • Stalingrad gets its name back - for a day

    VOLGOGRAD, Russia, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Josef Stalin and the city of Stalingrad are making a comeback - if only for a short time.

    Read on.
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  • U.N. rights inquiry says Israel must remove settlers

    GENEVA, Jan 31 (Reuters) - U.N. human rights investigators called on Israel on Thursday to halt settlement expansion and withdraw all half a million Jewish settlers from the occupied West Bank, saying that its practices could be subject to prosecution as possible war crimes.

    A three-member U.N. panel said private companies should stop working in the settlements if their work adversely affected the human rights of Palestinians, and urged member states to ensure companies respected human rights.

    Read on.
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  • Analysis: Russia’s press freedom score back down after crackdown

    Russia has had a busy year clamping down on dissent, and now the Kremlin’s got something to show for it. The international non-profit organization Reporters Without Borders released its annual press freedom index on Wednesday, knocking six points from Russia’s 2012 score and ranking the country 148th out of 179 in the world for respecting media freedom.

    According to the report, an “unprecedented” number of protests following Vladimir Putin’s return to a third term as president prompted Russia to respond by introducing more repressive measures. Let’s take a quick look at where Russia lost points.

    Read on.
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  • Remove secret censoring system from Guantanamo court, judge orders by Jane Sutton

    GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba, Jan 31 (Reuters) - A U.S. military judge on Thursday ordered the government to immediately dismantle the monitoring system that let outside censors halt the public broadcast of hearings for the Guantanamo prisoners accused of plotting the Sept. 11 attacks.

    "It is the judge that controls the courtroom," said the judge, Army Colonel James Pohl. "This is the last time ... any other third party will be permitted to unilaterally decide that the broadcast should be suspended."

    The closed-circuit broadcast feed was cut for a few minutes during a pretrial hearing on Monday at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, revealing for the first time that someone outside the courtroom was listening in with a finger on the kill switch.

    It happened during a pretrial hearing for the self-described mastermind of the hijacked plane attack, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and four co-defendants who were held in secret CIA prisons before being sent to Guantanamo in 2006.

    Their hearings are held in a high-tech building where spectators watch from behind a soundproof glass wall at the rear of the courtroom.

    Observers hear the sound on a 40-second delay, through a feed that also provides sound and video to journalists in the Guantanamo press center and to a couple of closed-circuit viewing sites on the U.S. East Coast.

    A court security officer sitting next to the judge controls a button that muffles the feed with static and flashes a red light when secret information is disclosed.

    Pohl was furious on Monday when someone outside the courtroom cut the feed as Mohammed's lawyer, David Nevin, mentioned a defense request to preserve the secret CIA prisons where the defendants had been held.

    Pohl said on Tuesday that the feed had been cut in error because the information in question was not secret, and a transcript of the censored portion was later released.

    After meeting privately with the lawyers, including prosecutors who seemed well aware of the outside monitoring, Pohl said an "original classification authority" had the ability to monitor the courtroom and cut the feed.

    He did not identify that authority but it would be whichever agency or officer had originally classified information about the CIA prisons as secret.

    Pohl ordered that monitoring system removed on Thursday and said emphatically that he and the court security officer were the only ones with authority to suspend the broadcast.
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  • Syria says could make "surprise" response to Israel strike

    BEIRUT, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Syria's ambassador to Lebanon said on Thursday that Damascus had the option of a "surprise decision" to respond to what it said was an Israeli air strike on a research centre on the outskirts of the Syrian capital on Wednesday.

    Syria could take "a surprise decision to respond to the aggression of the Israeli warplanes," Ali Abdul Karim Ali was quoted as telling a Hezbollah-run news website.

    "Syria is engaged in defending its sovereignty and its land," he added, without spelling out what the response might entail. Syria and Israel have fought several wars and in 2007 Israeli jets bombed a suspected Syrian nuclear site, without retaliation.

    (Reporting by Oliver Holmes; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
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  • Map locating the Syrian town Jamraya which was hit by an Israeli air strike on Wednesday.

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  • Furniture and burnt vehicles are seen amid rubble from damaged buildings in Homs, January 30, 2013. At least 60,000 people have been killed in Syria's civil war. REUTERS/Yazan

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  • Syrian rebels make slow headway in south

    (Reuters) - The revolt against President Bashar al-Assad first flared in Deraa, but the southern border city now epitomizes the bloody stalemate gripping Syria after 22 months of violence and 60,000 dead.

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  • Israel hits Syria arms convoy to Lebanon: sources

    Israeli jets bombed a convoy on Syria's border with Lebanon on Wednesday, sources told Reuters, apparently targeting weapons destined for Hezbollah in what some called a warning to Damascus not to arm Israel's Lebanese enemy.

    Read on.
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  • People inspect the Boate Kiss nightclub in the southern city of Santa Maria, 187 miles (301 km) west of the state capital Porto Alegre, in this handout released by the Policia Civil (Civil Police) January 29, 2013. A fire at the nightclub killed at least 231 people in Santa Maria early on Sunday when a band's pyrotechnics show set the building ablaze and fleeing partygoers stampeded toward blocked and overcrowded exits in the ensuing panic, officials said. REUTERS/Policia Civil/Handout

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  • Syria says Israel attacked military research center

    BEIRUT, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Israeli warplanes attacked a military research center in Damascus province at dawn on Wednesday, Syria's military command said, denying reports that the planes had struck a convoy carrying weapons from Syria to Lebanon.

    Two people were killed and five wounded in the attack on the site in Jamraya, which it described as one of a number of "scientific research centres aimed at raising the level of resistance and self-defence".

    The building was destroyed, the military command said in a statement carried by state media.
    It said the planes crossed into Syria below the radar level, just north of Mount Hermon, and returned the same way.

    Sources told Reuters earlier that Israeli jets had bombed a convoy on Syria's border with Lebanon on Wednesday, apparently targeting weapons destined for Hezbollah.

    (Reporting By Dominic Evans; Writing by Jason Webb; Editing by Andrew Roche)
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  • Video streaming by Ustream

    Reuters exclusive on an Israeli attack on Lebanon-Syria border.

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  • Erdogan to seek referendum on Turkey constitution if no deal

    ANKARA, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday he would seek a referendum on changes to the constitution, expected to include the creation of an executive presidency, if no deal is reached with the opposition within two months.

    Erdogan, who has dominated Turkish politics since his AK Party first came to power in 2002, is widely viewed as wanting to become the head of state in a newly constituted executive presidency at elections due next year.

    A cross-party parliamentary commission charged with drafting a new constitution had been expected to finish its work by the start of this year but has failed to reach a consensus.

    (Reporting by Gulsen Solaker; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Nick Tattersall and Jon Boyle)
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  • Bahraini princess on trial for torturing detainees: official

    A Bahraini princess who works as a police officer is on trial for torturing two doctors while they were in detention during political unrest in the Gulf Arab kingdom in 2011, according to a senior official at Bahrain's Public Prosecutor's office.

    Read on.
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  • Israel hits target in Syria border area: sources

    Israeli forces attacked a convoy on the Syrian-Lebanese border overnight, a Western diplomat and regional security sources said on Wednesday, as concern has grown in the Jewish state over the fate of Syrian chemical and advanced conventional weapons.

    Read on.
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  • Violence between anti-government protesters and police continues in several Egyptian cities. Julie Noce reports.

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  • Hundreds defy Egyptian curfew to rally against president

    CAIRO, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Hundreds of anti-government protesters took to the streets of the Egyptian cities of Port Said, Ismailia and Suez late on Monday in defiance of President Mohamed Mursi's declaration of a curfew and a state of emergency after days of deadly unrest.

    The crowds shouted "Down down with Mohamed Mursi, down down with the state of emergency," in Ismailia and similar slogans were heard in the other cities along the Suez Canal.

    Around 50 Egyptians have been killed in clashes between protesters and police. Most of the deaths happened in Port Said and Suez and Mursi declared a curfew in the three canal cities from 9 p.m. (1900 GMT) to 6 a.m. (0400 GMT).

    (Reporting by Yusri Mohamed in Ismailia and Yasmine Saleh in Cairo, writing by Yasmine Saleh; Editing by Andrew Heavens)
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  • White House says Obama congratulates Netanyahu on election win

    WASHINGTON, Jan 28 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Monday congratulated Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his party's victory in last week's Israeli elections and pledged to work closely with the country's new government on Middle East peace, the White House said.

    "The president indicated that the United States looks forward to working with the next government," the White House said in a statement describing the telephone call between the two leaders known to have a strained relationship.

    "He also reiterated his commitment to the deep and enduring bonds between the United States and Israel, and pledged to work closely with Israel on our shared agenda for peace and security in the Middle East," the statement said.

    (Reporting by Matt Spetalnick and Jeff Mason; Editing by Will Dunham)
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  • A still image from an undated video footage released on January 28, 2013, by Iran's state-run English language Press TV shows a monkey that was launched into space. Iran said on Monday it had launched the live monkey into space, seeking to show off missile delivery systems that are alarming to the West given Tehran's parallel advances in nuclear technology. REUTERS/Press TV via Reuters TV. Read the full story here.

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  • Grief turns to anger after Brazil club fire; band in custody

    Relatives of the 231 people who died in a Brazilian nightclub fire demanded answers on Monday as to how it could have killed so many people, while police questioned the club's owner and members of the band whose pyrotechnics show allegedly caused the tragedy.

    Several coffins, many draped with flags of the victims' favorite soccer teams, lined a gymnasium that has become a makeshift morgue since the fire in the early hours on Sunday, one of the world's deadliest such incidents in a decade.

    Read the full story.

    • Timeline: Deadliest fires of the century
    • Video: Families mourn victims
    Fire recalls a 2003 tragedy in Rhode Island
    • Video: Bouncers initially blocked people from leaving club
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  • Mali's MNLA Tuareg rebels say they control Kidal

    DAKAR, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Secular Malian Tuareg MNLA rebels said on Monday they were now in control of the northern town of Kidal after their former Islamist allies abandoned it.

    "Now it is us who are in control," Colonel Mohamed Ag Najim, the MNLA's military commander, told Reuters by satellite phone from the northeastern town, which was the last stronghold occupied by al Qaeda-allied Islamist fighters after Gao and Timbuktu were taken by French and Malian troops.

    Asked where fighters from the Islamist Ansar Dine group which held the town were, Ag Najim replied: "They are gone". Another MNLA rebel contacted by Reuters gave the same account but there was no immediate independent confirmation.

    (Reporting by Pascal Fletcher and David Lewis in Dakar, Laurent Prieur in Nouakchott; Editing by Pascal Fletcher)
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Battle for Aleppo intensifies after ceasefire ends

BEIRUT The battle for control of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo intensified on Sunday with air strikes, ground offensives and shelling, the morning after a resurgence in fighting ended a Russian ceasefire, a monitor and rebel groups said.