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Reuters World News Highlights at 1700 GMT, Jan 14

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Jan 14 (Reuters) - TOP STORIES

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BAMAKO/PARIS - Al Qaeda-linked Islamist rebels launched a counter-offensive in Mali on Monday after four days of French air strikes on their northern strongholds, seizing the central town of Diabaly and promising to drag France into a brutal Afghanistan-style war.

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NEW DELHI - India's army chief threatened to retaliate against Pakistan for the killing of two soldiers in fighting near the border of the disputed region of Kashmir, saying he had asked his commanders there to be aggressive in the face of provocation.

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WASHINGTON - Iran could produce enough weapon-grade uranium for one or more nuclear bombs by mid-2014, and the United States and its allies should intensify sanctions on Tehran before that point is reached, a report by a group of U.S. nonproliferation experts said.

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BEIRUT - Syria's civil war is unleashing a "staggering humanitarian crisis" on the Middle East as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee violence including gang rape, an international aid agency said on Monday.

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GENEVA - U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay called on Monday for an international investigation into what she said may be crimes against humanity in North Korea, including torture and executions of political prisoners held in shadowy camps.

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ATHENS - Unidentified attackers opened fire on the headquarters of Greece's governing New Democracy party with a Kalashnikov assault rifle early on Monday, in what the government said was a worrying escalation in political violence.

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MILAN - Judges in Milan rejected a request by former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi on Monday to halt his sex trial until after a national election next month, but allowed the key witness to avoid giving testimony in open court.

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LONDON - British Prime Minister David Cameron will deliver a major speech on Jan. 18 in the Netherlands spelling out how he wants to renegotiate his country's relationship with the European Union, his official spokesman said on Monday.

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JERUSALEM - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a simple message as he seeks a third term in office - he is a strong man and a vote for him at parliamentary elections on Jan. 22 means Israel will be a powerful nation.

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TUNIS - Thousands of Tunisians protested against the Islamist-led government on Monday, exactly two years after the overthrow of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in a popular revolt that inspired others across the Arab world.

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MOGADISHU - A second French commando has died from wounds suffered during a failed attempt to rescue a French agent in Somalia held hostage by al Shabaab since 2009, the al Qaeda-affiliated militant group said on Monday.

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MOSCOW - Russia's new defence minister fired its top military doctor after at least four soldiers died of pneumonia over the last two months, Russian news agencies reported on Monday.

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Apple Inc has cut orders for LCD screens and other parts for the iPhone 5 this quarter due to weak demand, the Nikkei reported on Monday, in a further sign the U.S. firm is losing ground to Asian smartphone rivals.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130114/reuters-world-news-highlights-at-1700-gmt-jan-14