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Reuters World News Highlights at 2045 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 launched the biggest U.S. gun-control push in generations on Wednesday, urging Congress to approve an assault weapons ban and background checks for all gun buyers to prevent mass shootings like the Newtown school massacre.

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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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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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JERUSALEM - Long-strained ties between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu sprang to the fore of Israel's election campaign on Wednesday after the U.S. president was quoted as criticising the prime minister's character.

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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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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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ISLAMABAD - Pakistan's interior minister on Wednesday warned an anti-government Muslim cleric and thousands of protesters camped out near parliament to disperse, saying they were at risk of attack by militants.

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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 will leave his post by the end of March to return to his Colorado ranch.

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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.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130116/reuters-world-news-highlights-at-2045-gmt-jan-16