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Ukraine forces kill up to five rebels, Russia starts drill near border

By Aleksandar Vasovic and Alexei Anishchuk SLAVIANSK, Ukraine/ST PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) - Ukrainian forces killed up to five pro-Moscow rebels on Thursday as they closed in on the separatists' military stronghold in the east, and Russia launched army drills near the border in response, raising fears its troops would invade.

Russia demands U.S. stop Ukrainian military operation

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia said on Thursday that the United States must force the current Ukrainian leadership to immediately stop the military operation in southeastern Ukraine and withdraw military units to their permanent bases. In a statement, the Foreign Ministry said telephone talks planned for Wednesday and Thursday between Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had not taken place "for reasons that did not depend on Moscow". (Writing by Steve Gutterman; Editing by Christian Lowe)

Separatists brace for assault as Ukrainian tanks roll in

Pungent fumes rose Thursday from the burning tyres and sandbags piled across one of the main roads leading to Slavyansk, the flashpoint eastern Ukrainian town controlled by rebels, where insurgents had just faced down the first challenge from Ukrainian tanks. But if there was any damage to the roadblock, the rebels had only themselves to blame, as the tanks bearing Ukraine's flags had turned around almost as soon as they arrived, before disappearing into the countryside -- all without firing a single shot.

Israel halts peace talks after Palestinian unity deal

Israel said Thursday it was halting peace talks with the Palestinians following their unity deal with Hamas, as the faltering US-backed process approached its deadline. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticised the agreement between the rival factions as a move that "kills peace," but senior Palestinian official Saeb Erakat blamed Israeli settlement activity for killing off the process.

Israel halts peace talks after Palestinian unity deal

Israel said Thursday it was halting peace talks with the Palestinians following their unity deal with Hamas, as the faltering US-backed process approached its deadline. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticised the agreement between the rival factions as a move that "kills peace," but senior Palestinian official Saeb Erakat blamed Israeli settlement activity for killing off the process.

General Motors 1Q results worst since 2009 due to recall costs; CEO says sales holding up

DETROIT - The cost of recalling nearly 7 million cars and trucks sank General Motors' first-quarter profit, but the company's CEO said the much-publicized recalls have yet to cut into sales. GM on Thursday reported its worst financial results in more than four years, with profit falling 86 per cent to $125 million. The biggest contributor was a $1.3 billion charge to cover a series of recalls announced since early February, most notably 2.6 million small cars with defective ignition switches.

Angry Muslims in Central African Republic call for partition

By Emmanuel Braun BAMBARI, Central African Republic (Reuters) - In this dusty town at the heart of the Central African Republic, many angry Muslims advocate a simple solution to the threat of religious violence from Christian militias terrorizing the country's south: partition. Bambari lies near the dividing line separating Central African Republic's Christian south - where mobs have lynched hundreds of Muslims and torn down their homes - from a northern region controlled by the mostly Muslim Seleka rebels.

Produce giant Chiquita asks appeals court to dismiss Colombian terror payments case

MIAMI - Produce giant Chiquita Brands International says the U.S. is the wrong place for lawsuits to be pursued against it by thousands of Colombians whose relatives were killed in a bloody civil war. A Chiquita attorney asked an 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel to dismiss the lawsuits at a Thursday hearing. A ruling is unlikely for months. Chiquita once had huge banana operations in Colombia and paid $1.7 million to a right-wing paramilitary group responsible for the deaths. Chiquita says Colombia is the proper lawsuit forum.

Nine killed as poll violence hits restive Indian regions

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Nine police and poll officials were killed in India in two attacks on Thursday, one in a region hit by a Maoist insurgency and the other in Kashmir, the mainly-Muslim region where many voters are boycotting a general election. Eight police and election officials were killed when assailants - that police suspect were left-wing rebels - blew up a bus they were travelling on in Dumka, in the eastern state of Jharkhand, police spokesman Anurag Gupta said. Five of the dead were police. Five others were wounded.

Nine killed as poll violence hits restive Indian regions

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Nine police and poll officials were killed in India in two attacks on Thursday, one in a region hit by a Maoist insurgency and the other in Kashmir, the mainly-Muslim region where many voters are boycotting a general election. Eight police and election officials were killed when assailants - that police suspect were left-wing rebels - blew up a bus they were travelling on in Dumka, in the eastern state of Jharkhand, police spokesman Anurag Gupta said. Five of the dead were police. Five others were wounded.
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