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Polish cargo ship attacked off Nigeria; 5 abducted

Polish cargo ship seizedPirates operating off the coast of Nigeria have taken hostage five Polish sailors, including the captain and officers, from the Cyprus-flagged cargo ship the Szafir.

The Polish Foreign Ministry has confirmed the abduction of the seaman explaining that 11 other members of the crew were able to avoid capture after they barricaded themselves inside the ship.


Pope condemns illegal trade in ivory, diamonds

Pope condemns ivory and diamond tradePope Francis, who has made the fight against human trafficking a major priority, is denouncing other forms of illegal trafficking during his first-ever visit to Africa.

In a speech Thursday to the regional U.N. headquarters, Francis said illegal trade in diamonds and other precious stones and metals, as well as the poaching of elephants for their ivory tusks "fuels political instability, organized crime and terrorism."


Venezuelan opposition politician shot dead

Luis Manuel Diaz assassinated in VenezuelaA Venezuelan opposition politician was shot dead during a public meeting days before a legislative election that has raised tensions around the politically polarized nation.

The shooting took place in the central town of Altagracia de Orituco, said the leader of Democratic Action party, Carolos Prosperi. He said he heard gunshots as the rally was breaking up and the party's leader for the town, Luis Manuel Diaz, was hit.


Canadian PM Trudeau: Syrian refugees not security risk

TrudeauCanadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he has slowed down plans to settle 25,000 Syrian refugees within weeks in order to allay citizens' security concerns after the Paris attacks.

Trudeau had wanted to resettle 25,000 refugees in Canada by Dec. 31. On Tuesday, his Liberal government said Canada would resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year and another 15,000 by the end of February. Health and security screening will take place overseas, rather than once the newcomers arrive in Canada.


Kerry Tells Netanyahu: U.S. Will Not Recognize Settlement Blocs in Return for West Bank Gestures

Kerry and NetanyahuSecretary of State John Kerry, currently on a visit to the region, told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their meeting on Tuesday that the United States would not agree to recognize construction in the West Bank settlement blocs in exchange for Israeli steps in the West Bank, as Netanyahu had suggested during their meeting in the U.S. two weeks ago.

Deputy State Department Spokesman Mark Toner told reporters during the daily briefing that the American answer to Netanyahu’s demand in this matter was “a big no.” He added that both Republican and Democratic administrations regarded construction in the settlements and Israeli attempts to create facts on the ground as undermining a two-state solution.


At least 11 dead in attack on Tunisia military bus

Tunisia bomb attackAt least 11 people were killed on Tuesday after an explosion hit a bus carrying Tunisian presidential guards along a major street in the centre of the capital Tunis.

Security and presidential sources said the explosion was an attack, adding it was not immediately clear whether it was a bomb or an explosive fired at the bus as it travelled along Mohamed V Avenue.

Ambulances rushed from the scene and security forces quickly sealed off the area.


In taking economic war to Islamic State, U.S. developing new tools

ISISSince last month, U.S. warplanes have struck Islamic State's oil infrastructure in Syria in a stepped-up campaign of economic warfare that the United States estimates has cut the group's black-market earnings from oil by about a third.

In finding their targets, U.S. military planners have relied in part on an unconventional source of intelligence: access to banking records that provide insight into which refineries and oil pumps are generating cash for the extremist group, current and former officials say.


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