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Thu Mar 13, 2014 10:00pm EDT

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TOP NEWS

Russia holds war games near Ukraine; Merkel warns of catastrophe

BERLIN/MOSCOW - Russia launches new military exercises near its border with Ukraine, showing no sign of backing down in its plans to annex its neighbour's Crimea region despite a stronger-than-expected drive for sanctions from the EU and United States. (UKRAINE-CRISIS/ (WRAPUP 4, PICTURES, TV), moved, by Stephen Brown and Timothy Heritage, 1,250 words)

- UKRAINE-CRISIS/UN, moved, by Louis Charbonneau, 730 words

- UKRAINE-CRISIS/USA-CONGRESS (UPDATE 1), moved, by Patricia Zengerle, 680 words

- UKRAINE-CRISIS/AKSYONOV (INTERVIEW, PICTURES, TV), moved, by Aleksandar Vasovic, 805 words

- UKRAINE-CRISIS/OSCE (UPDATE 2), moved, by Fredrik Dahl, 570 words

Search for Malaysian plane may extend to Indian Ocean - U.S.

KUALA LUMPUR/WASHINGTON - A new search area for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 may be opened in the Indian Ocean, the White House says, significantly broadening the potential location of the plane, which disappeared nearly a week ago with 239 people on board. (MALAYSIA-AIRLINES/ (WRAPUP 4, PICTURES, TV, GRAPHICS, TV), expect by 0400 GMT/MIDNIGHT ET, by Anshuman Daga and Mark Hosenball, 1,000 words)

- MALAYSIA-AIRLINES/DATA (UPDATE 3), moved, by Mark Hosenball and Tim Hepher, 480 words

- MALAYSIA-AIRLINES/USA-SEARCH (UPDATE 3), moved, 360 words

Venezuela says death toll from protests rises to 28

CARACAS - Venezuela's state prosecutor says the death toll from a month of violent protests has risen to 28, after the nation's top court ordered opposition mayors to dismantle barricades set up by street protesters. (VENEZUELA-PROTESTS/ (UPDATE 1, PICTURES, TV), moved, by Daniel Wallis, 580 words)

Turkey's Erdogan condemns protesters as deaths fuel tensions

ISTANBUL - Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan condemns anti-government protesters as "charlatans" bent on sowing chaos in the run-up to local elections after Turkey's worst civil unrest since mass protests last summer. (TURKEY-PROTESTS/ (UPDATE 3), moved, by Daren Butler, 800 words)

- TURKEY-CORRUPTION/, moved, by Dasha Afanasieva and Humeyra Pamuk, 310 words

ASIA

Rebels, Islamists form dangerous alliance in Pakistan's unruly southwest

QUETTA, Pakistan - In Pakistan's volatile, resource-rich province of Baluchistan, separatists team up with radical Sunni Muslims in their fight against the Pakistani government. (PAKISTAN-BALUCHISTAN/, moved, by Syed Raza Hassan, 596 words)

"Toxic stew" of militants lurk in Afghanistan as NATO heads home

KABUL - The soldiers were asleep when attackers struck their outpost, tucked in the mountains of Afghanistan's eastern province of Kunar and on the front lines of a deepening war between the army and a potent mix of militants. (AFGHANISTAN-MILITANTS/ (PICTURES), moved, by Mirwais Harooni and Missy Ryan, 900 words)

MIDDLE EAST

Gaza rockets, Israeli air strikes persist despite truce call

JERUSALEM/GAZA - A small armed faction in the Gaza Strip fires rockets at Israel, drawing retaliatory air strikes and pushing cross-border violence into a third day despite a truce called by the more powerful Palestinian group Islamic Jihad. (PALESTINIAN-ISRAEL/GAZA (UPDATE 4, PICTURE, TV), moved, by Dan Williams and Nidal al-Mughrabi, 590 words)

Mediator Brahimi says Syria election now won't aid peace talks

UNITED NATIONS - If Syria goes ahead with an election that would likely secure a new term for President Bashar al-Assad, the opposition will probably not be interested in pursuing further peace talks with the government, peace mediator Lakhdar Brahimi says. (SYRIA-CRISIS/UN, moved, by Louis Charbonneau, 610 words)

- SYRIA-CRISIS/TOLL, moved, 240 words

EUROPE

U.N. sees serious setbacks in anti-drugs fight

VIENNA - The global fight against narcotics suffers serious setbacks, including record opium cultivation in Afghanistan and a surge of trafficking-related violence in Central America, the U.N. anti-drugs chief says. (UN-DRUGS/ (UPDATE 2, PICTURES), moved, by Fredrik Dahl and Derek Brooks, 630 words)

U.N. rights watchdog urges release of Senate report on CIA torture

GENEVA - The U.N. human-rights watchdog calls on the United States to issued a report on a Bush-era interrogation programme at the heart of a dispute between the CIA and a Senate panel. (USA-CIA/INTERROGATIONS-UN, moved, by Stephanie Nebehay, 620 words)

UNITED STATES

New York City gas explosion subject of federal probe

NEW YORK - Federal safety authorities launch an investigation into a gas explosion that caused the collapse a day earlier of two New York City apartment buildings, killing seven people and injuring dozens of others. (USA-NEW-YORK/COLLAPSE (UPDATE 7, PICTURES), moved, by Chris Francescani and Anna Hiatt, 640 words)

AMERICAS

Former guerrilla wins El Salvador vote; rival protests

SAN SALVADOR - A former Marxist guerrilla leader wins El Salvador's presidential election by less than 7,000 votes, final results show, and his right-wing rival continues to press to have the vote annulled. (ELSALVADOR-ELECTION/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Michael O'Boyle and Nelson Renteria, 620 words)

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