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Lukashenko: Soviet-style autocrat on Europe’s doorstep

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Minsk (AFP) – Strongman Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled over ex-Soviet Belarus for nearly three decades, is facing down the greatest challenge to his rule ahead of presidential elections on Sunday.In the run-up to the vote in which Lukashenko will seek a sixth term, protests have erupted across the country straddling Russia and Europe, with 37-year-old stay-at-home-mother Svetlana Tikhanovskaya emerging as his toughest rival.Critics have mocked Lukashenko, claiming his approval ratings have hit single digits and nicknamed the 65-year-old authoritarian leader “Sasha 3 percent.”One of Lukash…

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Four injured in knife attack outside Charlie Hebdo’s former office in Paris, suspects at large

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At least four people were injured in a stabbing attack on Friday in central Paris, police say. A police operation is underway in search of two suspects they say are "on the run".

The attack took place in the 11th arrondissement, in the vicinity of the former offices of Charlie Hebdo, site of a deadly terrorist attack in January 2015 that killed 12 people. A high-profile trial is underway in that case at the Paris courthouse.

Two of those injured are in "critical" condition, the Paris police prefecture says. Two suspects are “on the run”.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex confirmed that four people were injured and cut short a visit he was making in Seine-Saint-Denis, north of Paris.

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COVID-19

Rio scraps famed carnival as virus surges across globe

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Brazil has postponed Rio de Janeiro's famed carnival for next year, the latest spectacle hit by the pandemic as governments across the globe struggle to contain a surge in coronavirus infections.

Rio's carnival, famous for its gyrating Samba dancers, drummers and dancing crowds, draws millions for all night parties in packed streets, making social distancing all but impossible.

Brazil now has the world's second highest death toll after the United States -- nearly 140,000 fatalities -- and is still battling to bring the virus under control.

Rio's samba schools had already warned in July that without certainty of a vaccine this year it would be difficult to organise the February 2021 festival.

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Kim Jong Un ‘very sorry’ over killing of South Korean, Seoul says

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un issued a rare apology Friday over what he described as the "unexpected and disgraceful" killing of a South Korean at sea, Seoul's presidential office said.

Apologies from the North -- let alone attributed to Kim personally -- are extremely unusual, and the message comes with inter-Korean ties in deep freeze as well as a stand-off in nuclear negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington.

Analysts said the North was looking to placate its neighbour after the shooting -- the first time its forces killed a Southern citizen for a decade -- provoked outrage in the South.

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