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Kazakhstan: Syria peace talks off to a slow start

By: RFE/RL Source: RFE/RL The first day of talks aimed at solidifying the cease-fire in Syria’s civil war have ended in the Kazakh capital, Astana, with no breakthroughs reported. Delegations from both the Syrian government and the opposition participated in the sessions on January 23 but did not address one another directly. Yahya al-Aridi, the spokesman for the Syrian opposition at the talks, said his group met with the Russian and Turkish delegations in the presence of UN envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura to discuss details of a nationwide cease-fire. Aleksandr Lavrentyev, the special representative of the Russian president at the talks, said the “intensity of emotions was rather...

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Saudi: Suicide bombers blow themselves up in Jeddah

By: Tom Finn Source: Reuters via MuslimVillage DOHA (Reuters) – Two suspected militants blew themselves up following a confrontation with security forces in Saudi Arabia’s second city of Jeddah on Saturday, Saudi media reported. Saudi security forces surrounded a house in Jeddah and exchanged fire with the men, who blew themselves up,, a  website affiliated with the monarchy’s interior ministry, said. UAE-based Sky News Arabia also reported the incident and ran a video of an explosion in Jeddah’s eastern Al-Harazat district. The Saudi interior ministry had no immediate comment. ISIS has carried out a series of bombings and shootings in Saudi Arabia since...

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Dangerous extremes: Liberals and hard-liners clash in Pakistan

By: RFE/RL Source: RFE/RL Hard-line religious protesters threw stones at a rally called to support five missing Pakistani activists on January 19 and demanded that the government file blasphemy charges against the missing men. The liberal activists and bloggers, who had criticized political influence in the military and spoke up for religious minorities in Pakistan, all disappeared earlier this month. Shortly after their disappearances, blasphemy allegations started to proliferate on social media and in complaints to the police. Convictions for blasphemy carry a death sentence in Pakistan. As supporters of the activists called for their release at a rally in Karachi, about 100 members of a...

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