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AFP 0500 GMT News Advisory

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Duty Editor: Jitendra Joshi

Tel: +852 2829 6211

-- TOP STORIES --

+ South Korea boosts military alert to 2nd highest level

+ Iranian rescuers sift through rubble from deadly quake

+ British MPs debate Margaret Thatcher's divisive legacy

NKorea-SKorea-US-military,update-WRAP

SEOUL

South Korea raises its military watch alert to "vital threat" ahead of an expected North Korean missile launch, as red-hot tensions on the divided peninsula enter a new phase in the five-day buildup to a key anniversary.

750 words 0700 GMT by Park Chan-Kyong. Graphic. Picture. Video

Also moving exTOKYO: NKorea-SKorea-Japan-missile-military,FACTS

Iran-quake-nuclear,WRAP

TEHRAN

Rescuers comb through the rubble of a powerful earthquake that hit near Iran's Gulf port city of Bushehr, killing at least 30 people and injuring 800 but leaving the Islamic republic's only nuclear power plant intact.

650 words 0730 GMT by Mohammad Davari. Graphic. Picture. Video

Britain-politics-Thatcher,update-WRAP

LONDON

Britain's lawmakers gather for a special session of parliament to debate the legacy of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher, whose death on Monday exposed bitterly divided views on the "Iron Lady's" 11 years in power.

850 words 0800 GMT by Alice Ritchie. Graphic. Picture. Video

Also moved: Britain-politics-Thatcher-industry-coal-FOCUS

-- ASIA --

Malaysia-politics-vote,WRAP

KUALA LUMPUR

Malaysia announces a general election for May 5, setting a long-awaited date for polls that are tipped to be the closest in the country's history with the long-ruling government seeking to hold off an upstart opposition.

600 words 0530 GMT by M. Jegathesan. Picture

NKorea-SKorea-US-military-tourism,FOCUS

PANMUNJOM

Undeterred by North Korea's apocalyptic threats of nuclear war, a daily convoy of tour coaches still happily wends its way to the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) which separates the two Koreas.

600 words moved by Ruby Tam. Picture. Video

Also moved exWASHINGTON: NKorea-SKorea-US-military-nuclear-weapons-politics,2ndlead

US-China-politics-rights,update-INTERVIEW

WASHINGTON

The Chinese human rights activist at the center of a diplomatic crisis a year ago accuses Beijing of reneging on the agreement that freed him and urged the United States to intervene.

700 words moved by Shaun Tandon. Picture. Video

-- AMERICAS --

US-politics-guns,2ndlead

WASHINGTON

Democrats move closer to a gun control vote in the US Senate, as Vice President Joe Biden slams "mind-boggling" Republican threats to block the reform legislation following the Newtown massacre.

650 words moved by Michael Mathes. Picture

Venezuela-vote-politics,FOCUS

CARACAS

A truck barrels through a Caracas market with loudspeakers playing a campaign song of acting President Nicolas Maduro, with a Caribbean beat and the chorus "Chavez I swear, my vote is for Maduro."

750 words 0600 GMT by Laurent Thomet

-- MIDDLE EAST --

G8-diplomacy-Syria-NKorea-Iran,WRAP

LONDON

Syrian rebels are set to meet US Secretary John Kerry and other G8 foreign ministers gathering in London, with nuclear fears over North Korea and Iran also high on the agenda.

650 words 0830 GMT by Danny Kemp. Picture

Syria-conflict-society-electricity,FOCUS

ALEPPO, Syria

"When I see a light on, I'll run to have my photo taken with it," laughs Sheikh Yazen, a resident of one of many districts in Syria's Aleppo that have been plunged into darkness by extended power outages.

600 words moved by Marie Roudani. Picture

Also moved: Syria-conflict,update-WRAP

-- EUROPE --

Serbia-crime

VELIKA IVANCA, Serbia

Serbia holds a national day of mourning after a war veteran shoots dead 13 relatives and neighbours, including his mother, his son and a two-year-old child, in a pre-dawn killing spree in his tiny village near Belgrade.

650 words moved by Katarina Subasic

EU-economy-tax-fraud-politics,FOCUS

PARIS

For more than two decades, a top French politician was able to quietly stash away hundreds of thousands of euros into a secret foreign bank account, all thanks to the lack of mechanisms that automatically and systematically help countries detect hidden accounts abroad.

650 words moved by Francesco Fontemaggi

-- AFRICA --

CentrAfrica-politics,SCENE

BANGUI

Looters after gold or jewels in the abandoned home of deposed Central African Republic president Francois Bozize came instead across a gruesome discovery -- two human skeletons hidden beneath the garage floor.

520 words moved by Patrick Fort. Picture

Mali-conflict-EU-Qaeda,FOCUS

KOULIKORO, Mali

At the foot of a hill by the banks of the Niger River a ragtag company of Malian soldiers crouch on the baked earth, Kalashnikov assault rifles poised. It is not real warfare but an EU training exercise.

760 words moved. Video

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