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Three dead in east Ukraine, Putin warns of 'abyss'

By Aleksandar Vasovic MARIUPOL, Ukraine (Reuters) - Separatists attacked a base of the Ukrainian national guard overnight and Kiev said three separatists were killed, the worst bloodshed yet in a 10-day pro-Russian uprising in east Ukraine, overshadowing crisis talks to resolve the conflict.

Casualty numbers used as a weapon in Ukraine crisis

By Alissa de Carbonnel and Gabriela Baczynska MOSCOW/KRAMATORSK, Ukraine (Reuters) - Around 6:00 p.m. local time on Tuesday, Vladimir Maximovich heard the news that was ricocheting around Russian media and online: at least four pro-Russian activists had been killed and others wounded by Ukrainian troops at an airfield near the Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk. As the head of the emergency unit at the city's public hospital, he got ready to receive the injured and treat them. They never showed up.

Algeria's Bouteflika poised to win re-election

By Patrick Markey ALGIERS (Reuters) - Algerians voted on Thursday in an election President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is expected to win after 15 years in power, despite speaking only rarely in public since suffering a stroke in 2013. With the dominant National Liberation Front (FLN) party, allied movements and unions behind him, many Algerians believe Bouteflika, 77, is almost assured of victory and another five years governing the North African OPEC state.

Ukraine disbands army unit after fiasco push into east

Ukraine on Thursday disbanded an army unit that lost six armoured vehicles to pro-Russian militants, as Kiev's military reeled from a disastrous attempt to oust separatists in its eastern regions. "The 25th parachute brigade, members of which showed cowardice and gave up their weapons, will be demobilised and the guilty servicemen brought before court," acting President Oleksandr Turchynov told parliament.

Russia's Lavrov last to arrive for crunch Ukraine talks

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was the last to arrive at a Geneva hotel Thursday where he is due to hold high-stake talks on the Ukraine crisis with counterparts from Kiev, Washington and Brussels. He will sit down at the negotiating table with Ukraine's interim Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsya, US Secretary of State John Kerry and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton -- the latter two having already held bilateral talks.

Ailing Bouteflika eyes 4th term as Algeria votes

Algerians were voting in presidential elections on Thursday, with incumbent Abdelaziz Bouteflika widely expected to win a fourth term despite chronic health problems, fraud warnings and calls for a boycott. More than 260,000 police have been deployed to protect the 50,000 polling booths set up across Africa's largest country, where 23 million Algerians are eligible to vote in a contest between six candidates.

High-stakes Ukraine talks open as Putin warns of 'abyss'

Russia and Ukraine sat down Thursday for Western-backed talks on the escalating crisis in the former Soviet republic as Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the authorities in Kiev of dragging the country towards the abyss. In a dramatic worsening of tensions in the restive east, three pro-Moscow separatists were killed in an overnight gunbattle with Ukrainian troops in the southeastern port city of Mariupol.

Palestinians rally for prisoners as peace talks falter

Palestinians gathered across the West Bank and Gaza on Thursday for rallies of solidarity with Israeli-held prisoners, as peace talks near collapse after the Jewish state refused to free long-serving inmates. To mark Prisoners Day, thousands were expected to demonstrate in the West Bank city of Ramallah, where Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has his headquarters, and hundreds took part in early rallies in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip late Wednesday.

Ukraine troops kill pro-Russia militants ahead of key talks

Ukrainian troops killed three pro-Russian militants in the country's tense southeast early Thursday, just hours ahead of key talks in Geneva seeking to ease the escalating crisis in the former Soviet republic. The gun battle erupted overnight when around 300 people lobbed petrol bombs and fired weapons at an interior ministry base in the port city of Mariupol, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said on his Facebook page.

Putin says Ukraine risks abyss, dialogue only solution

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday accused Ukraine's new authorities of driving the country towards the abyss but said that dialogue was the only way out of the intensifying crisis. "Only through dialogue, through democratic procedures and not with the use of armed forces, tanks and planes can order be imposed in the country," Putin said at the start of a major nationwide phone-in broadcast on Russian television.
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