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Reuters World News Highlights 2200 GMT Feb 21

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

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PRETORIA - South African police investigating Oscar Pistorius for murder pulled their lead detective off the "Blade Runner" athlete's case on Thursday after it emerged he himself faces attempted murder charges for shooting at a minibus.

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BEIRUT - A car bomb killed more than 50 people and wounded 200 in central Damascus on Thursday when it blew up on a busy highway close to ruling Baath Party offices and the Russian Embassy, state media and activists said.

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ROME - Silvio Berlusconi's resurgence and the rise of a foul-mouthed populist comedian have thrown Italy's weekend election wide open, with deep uncertainty over whether the poll can produce the strong government the country needs.

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SOCHI - Above the Black Sea city of Sochi, one of Russia's richest men is spending billions of roubles to turn a patch of mountainside into a global showpiece. Metals magnate Vladimir Potanin has paid for new buildings, new lifts and hundreds of snow canons in the hope of transforming slopes not far from sub-tropical Sochi into a world-class ski resort.

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GAO, Mali - French and Malian troops fought Islamists on the streets of Gao and a car bomb exploded in Kidal on Thursday, as fighting showed little sign of abating weeks before France plans to start withdrawing some forces.

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WASHINGTON/FRANKFURT - U.S. lawmakers are crafting a bill designed to stop the European Central Bank from handling business from the Iranian government, a congressional aide said on Thursday, an attempt to keep Tehran from using euros to develop its nuclear program.

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MILAN - Italian police arrested a fugitive associate of alleged soccer matchfixing kingpin Tan Seet Eng on Thursday after he flew in from Singapore to hand himself over, they said in a statement.

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SOFIA - Bulgaria's parliament on Thursday accepted the government's decision to resign in the face of anti-austerity protests, opening the way for an early election that may benefit fringe parties and make it hard to form a stable government.

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HYDERABAD, India - Two bombs placed on bicycles exploded in a crowded market-place in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad on Thursday, and the federal home minister said at least 11 people were killed and 50 wounded.

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MADRID - When Luis Barcenas, a former treasurer of Spain's ruling People's Party now at the heart of a growing corruption scandal, deposited 14 million euros in a new account at his Swiss bank in 2005 the bank asked him to explain how he came by the money.

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LOS ANGELES - The movie studios behind this year's Best Picture nominees already have brought home a treasured prize: big box-office sales that placed the Oscar contenders among the most-watched films of 2012.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130221/reuters-world-news-highlights-2200-gmt-feb-21