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Reuters World News Highlights at 1700 GMT, Feb 06

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Feb 6 (Reuters) - TOP STORIES

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TUNIS - A fierce critic of the Tunisian government's dealings with radical Islamists was shot dead on Wednesday, sending protesters onto the streets two years after their Jasmine Revolution sparked revolt across the Arab world.

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AMMAN - Syrian rebels battled Bashar al-Assad's forces on the edge of central Damascus on Wednesday, opposition activists said, seeking to break his grip over districts leading to the heart of the capital.

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KIDAL, Mali - French and Malian troops are fighting Islamist rebels in the Sahara outside northern Mali's biggest town, France's defence minister said on Wednesday, describing the desert campaign against al Qaeda as a "real war" that was far from won.

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WASHINGTON - Sally Jewell, a retail executive and outdoor enthusiast, is President Barack Obama's pick to oversee the national parks and vast energy reserves on public lands as U.S. interior secretary, an administration official said on Wednesday.

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WASHINGTON - The United States is operating a secret base out of Saudi Arabia and used it to launch a CIA drone strike in 2011 that killed U.S.-born al Qaeda leader Anwar Al Awlaki, according to a media report.

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James Grubel - A powerful 8.0 magnitude earthquake set off a tsunami that killed at least five people in a remote part of the Solomon Islands on Wednesday and triggered evacuations across the South Pacific as island nations issued tsunami alerts.

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DUBAI - A once-feared prosecutor at the centre of a row between two of Iran's most powerful figures was charged and freed from two days' detention on Wednesday, adding a new twist to their feud just months before the country's next presidential election.

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WASHINGTON - U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, already deeply immersed in high-profile domestic policy, is finding that his clout extends to foreign affairs as well, as he plays a top surrogate role for President Barack Obama in the early days of their second term.

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BEIJING - China expressed serious concern on Wednesday after North Korea stepped up its bellicose rhetoric and threatened to go beyond a third nuclear test in response to what it sees as "hostile" sanctions imposed after a December rocket launch.

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YANGWANG VILLAGE, China - The bare lightbulbs, unheated rooms and elderly residents of the whitewashed village of Yangwang in eastern China make it seem an unlikely place for an experiment in cutting-edge satellite technology.

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JOHANNESBURG - The public outcry in India over the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old student on a New Delhi bus has prompted soul-searching in South Africa, where some people are asking: "Why not here?"

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WASHINGTON/LOS ANGELES - The medical marijuana shop next to a tattoo parlor on a busy street in Los Angeles looks much like hundreds of other pot dispensaries that dot the city.

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MOSCOW - President Vladimir Putin is increasingly trying to intimidate ordinary Russians into abandoning protests against him to keep his grip on power, jailed former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky said.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130206/reuters-world-news-highlights-at-1700-gmt-feb-06