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Asian stock markets rise, shrug off slower Chinese economic growth

TOKYO - Shares rose Wednesday in Asia as positive sentiment from strong corporate earnings outweighed Ukraine's crisis and slower economic growth in China. The Nikkei jumped 2.5 per cent to 14,347.41 as a weaker yen boosted exporter stocks and Softbank Corp. shares soared nearly 9 per cent after Chinese e-commerce Alibaba Group Holding Co., in which it holds a 37 per cent stake, reported strong earnings.

New Zealander, Australian killed in Yemen drone strike

A New Zealander with terrorism links was killed in a US drone strike in Yemen last year, Prime Minister John Key said Wednesday, with Canberra confirming that an Australian was also killed in the attack. The man who called himself "Muslim bin John" was born in New Zealand and had been attending "some sort of terrorist training camp" in Yemen, Key said. "I was advised it was highly likely he was killed in the latter part of 2013 but it took some time to confirm that through DNA," he told reporters.

Asian shares rise, China growth beats forecasts

Asian markets mostly rose Wednesday following a second straight rally on Wall Street, while Chinese economic growth came in slightly above forecasts in the first three months of the year. Japan's Nikkei led regional gains thanks to a weaker yen after the head of the country's central bank said it was on target to meet its inflation target next year. Tokyo surged 3.01 percent, or 420.87 points, to finish at 14,417.68 and Sydney added 0.6 percent, or 32.1 points, to 5,420.3. Seoul was flat, edging down 0.06 points to 1,992.21.

Boston remembers marathon victims one year on

Boston paid solemn tribute Tuesday to the victims and survivors of the marathon bombings, observing a moment of silence and raising the US flag exactly one year after the attacks that stunned the nation. Vice President Joe Biden led an emotionally charged tribute at the Hynes Convention Center, just steps from the scene of the attack that left three dead and more than 260 others wounded.

Philippines says peace pact should hold despite clashes

The Philippines said Wednesday it was confident a peace deal with the country's largest Muslim rebel group would hold despite fresh clashes that left four of its members dead. The fighting took place just two weeks after the 10,000-member Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed a peace deal to end their decades-old rebellion that had claimed tens of thousands of lives.

Syria army launches assault in besieged Homs

Syrian troops and pro-regime militiamen fought their way into rebel-held neighbourhoods of the central city of Homs on Tuesday after besieging them for nearly two years. Meanwhile, rebels elsewhere in the country have received for the first time at least 20 US-made TOW anti-tank missiles from a "Western source", a rebel official said. The assault on Homs comes a day after the army recaptured the Christian town of Maalula in the strategic Qalamun region and as state media reported the country would soon move into election mode.

Putin warns Ukraine on brink of civil war as Kiev sends army in

Russian leader Vladimir Putin warned that Ukraine is on the verge of civil war, the Kremlin said Wednesday, after the Kiev government sent in troops against pro-Moscow separatists in the east of the country. "The Russian president remarked that the sharp escalation of the conflict has placed the country, in effect, on the verge of civil war," the Kremlin said in a statement on telephone talks between Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Two backpacks detonated as Boston gears for marathon

Police detonated two backpacks near the finish line of the Boston Marathon Tuesday night and arrested a suspect on the anniversary of last year's deadly bombings, media reported. Hundreds of people were evacuated after the backpacks were found at the scene of the twin bombings that killed three people exactly a year ago. The Boston Police Department wrote on its official Twitter account that a male suspect had been taken into custody in connection with the unattended backpacks.

Asian shares mostly up, China growth beats forecasts

Asian markets mostly rose on Wednesday following a second straight rally on Wall Street, while Chinese economic growth came in slightly above forecasts in the first three months of the year. Japan's Nikkei led regional gains thanks to a weaker yen after the head of the country's central bank said it was on target to meet its inflation target next year. Tokyo jumped 2.26 percent by the break, Hong Kong added 0.51 percent and Sydney gained 0.36 percent and Seoul was 0.10 percent higher but Shanghai was down 0.23 percent.

For east Ukraine, Kremlin adapts Crimea playbook

By Thomas Grove SLAVIANSK, Ukraine (Reuters) - There are important differences between Russia's intervention in Crimea and the events unfolding this week in eastern Ukraine which suggest Moscow has adapted its Crimea playbook and may be pursuing a different outcome. Unlike the Black Sea peninsula, where thousands of Russian troops were already based at ex-Soviet naval facilities leased from Ukraine, there is little clear evidence of Moscow deploying significant forces on the ground in the east of the country.
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