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China halves executions to about 4,000 a year: NGO

China has halved its executions since 2007, when its high court began reviewing death row cases, but still puts around 4,000 people to death every year, a US campaign group said on Tuesday. The exact number of people executed in China every year is a state secret, but according to Amnesty International,…

UN estimates over 5,000 dead in Syria crackdown

Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad killed at least 13 people on Tuesday, reports said after the UN estimated more than 5,000 have died in a nine-month crackdown on dissent. UN rights chief Navi Pillay gave the latest death toll — amounting to a jump of 1,000 in less than…

Palestinian flag raised at UNESCO after admission

The Palestinian flag was raised for the first time on Tuesday above a UN agency, the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, in a diplomatic victory won despite stiff resistance from the US and Israel. President Mahmud Abbas looked on as the flag was raised and the Palestinian anthem played, just weeks after Palestine won admission to UNESCO in move that sparked…

U.S. drone now Iran’s property: defense minister

A US drone captured by Iran is now the property of the Islamic republic, Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi said Tuesday, dismissing a request by US President Barack Obama for its return. “The American espionage drone is now Iran’s property, and our country will decide what steps to take regarding it,” Vahidi was quoted as saying by ISNA news agency.…

France condemns UN Council silence on Syria deaths

UNITED NATIONS — France’s UN envoy said Monday that the UN Security Council is “morally responsible” for killings in Syria by failing to condemn the government crackdown on protests. But in a sign of growing divisions within the 15-member council over Syria, Russia’s ambassador accused western nations of seeking “regime…

Mexico detains one of most wanted gang leaders

MEXICO CITY — Mexican security forces have captured a regional leader of the Zetas drug gang who was on a list of the country’s 37 most dangerous criminals, a statement said Monday. Raul Lucio Hernandez Lechuga, alias “El Lucky,” was detained in the city of Cordoba in eastern Veracruz state,…

Jobless men disrupt Iran president speech: reports

TEHRAN — Laid-off workers complaining about unpaid wages disrupted a speech by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday by shouting and throwing objects, news websites and an agency reported. One of the men threw a “pair of shoes” at Ahmadinejad, according to a report by a little-known website, Ghasednews.ir, that…

U.S. to sell Iraq 18 more F-16 warplanes

WASHINGTON — The United States plans to sell Iraq 18 more F-16 fighter jets as Baghdad seeks to secure its airspace after the full withdrawal of US forces this month, a US official said Monday. “Today the administration notified Congress of its intent to sell Iraq a second tranche of…

5.3 million take part in Mexico pilgrimage

MEXICO CITY — More than five million people traveled to Mexico City’s Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe this year to pay their respects to one of Latin America?s most revered holy figures, authorities said Monday. Arriving on their knees, by bicycle or bus, more than 5.3 million pilgrims from…

Saudi woman beheaded for ‘practicing witchcraft’

RIYADH: A Saudi woman was beheaded Monday after being convicted of practising sorcery, which is banned in the ultra-conservative kingdom, the Interior Ministry said. Amina bint Abdulhalim Nassar was executed in the northern province of Jawf for “practising witchcraft and sorcery,” the ministry said in a statement carried by SPA…

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