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Reuters World News Highlights at 1715 GMT, Jan 16

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ALGIERS - Islamist militants attacked a gas field in Algeria on Wednesday, claiming to have kidnapped up to 41 foreigners including seven Americans in a dawn raid in retaliation for France's intervention in Mali, according to regional media reports.

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BAMAKO/PARIS - French troops launched their first ground assault against Islamist rebels in Mali on Wednesday in a broadening of their operation against battle-hardened al Qaeda-linked fighters who have resisted six days of air strikes.

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WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama proposed a new assault weapons ban and mandatory background checks for all gun buyers on Wednesday in a bid to channel national outrage over the Newtown school massacre into the biggest U.S. gun-control push in generations.

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WASHINGTON - U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who helped lead the government's response to the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history, said on Wednesday he is stepping down from his post by the end of March to return to his ranch in Colorado.

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DUBAI - An Iranian news agency said on Wednesday that Iran and six world powers would resume talks over the Islamic state's nuclear programme in late January but a European Union official said the two sides had yet to agree a date.

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BEIRUT - Three car bombs exploded within minutes of each other in northwest Syria on Wednesday, killing at least two dozen people in a coordinated assault on government positions, a monitoring group said.

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PESHAWAR, Pakistan - Pashtun tribesmen from northwest Pakistan dumped 15 bloody bodies in front of government offices on Wednesday, protesting against what they said were extra-judicial killings by security forces in the latest challenge to the government's authority.

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KABUL - Six suicide bombers launched a coordinated attack on Afghanistan's spy agency in Kabul on Wednesday, killing two people and wounding 30, Afghan officials said.

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KIRKUK, Iraq - More than 35 people died in a suicide attack and other bombings in northern Iraq and Baghdad on Wednesday, worsening sectarian strife as Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki faces mounting pressure from minority Sunni Muslims and Kurds.

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MOGADISHU - Somali militants linked to al Qaeda said on Wednesday they had sentenced a French agent to death after a failed attempt by French armed forces to rescue him at the weekend.

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TOKYO - Japan's two leading airlines grounded their fleets of Boeing 787s on Wednesday after one of the Dreamliner passenger jets made an emergency landing, the latest in a series of incidents to heighten safety concerns over a plane many see as the future of commercial aviation.

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LONDON - A helicopter crashed into a crane on top of one of Europe's tallest residential blocks on Wednesday, killing two people as it burst into flames and spiralled down into rush-hour traffic close to the Houses of Parliament in central London.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130116/reuters-world-news-highlights-at-1715-gmt-jan-16