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    SKOPJE, Macedonia – A Macedonian police helicopter crashed overnight during a training flight near the southern town of Strumica, killing all four people on board, authorities said Friday.
  • Russia closes 3 border crossings with Ukraine
      MOSCOW – Russian officials say they have closed three major border crossings in the wake of heavy fighting in Ukraine.

Activist missing in Syria

– One of the most prominent figures in the peaceful protest movement that swept Syria early in the country’s uprising was reported missing Tuesday from a rebel-controlled suburb of Damascus, prompting suspicions that she is among the scores of civilian activists and journalists who have been detained by Islamist extremists in recent months.

Razan Zaitouneh, 36, a human rights lawyer, disappeared from her apartment with her husband and two other activists overnight Monday after threats received from Islamist groups, according to the opposition group of which she was a founder, the Local Coordination Committees.

Dozens of foreign journalists and aid workers also have been abducted in northern Syria. On Wednesday, the families of two Spanish journalists missing for nearly three months publicized their disappearance for the first time, appealing for their release.

500 dead amid fighting in Africa

More than 500 people have been killed over the past week in sectarian fighting in Central African Republic, aid officials said Tuesday, as France reported that gunmen killed two of its soldiers who were part of the intervention to disarm thousands of rebels accused of attacking civilians.

The government of the predominantly Christian country was overthrown in March by Muslim rebels. While the rebels claimed no religious motive for seizing power, months of resentment and hostility erupted last week in a wave of violence.

Police, protesters battle in Ukraine

Several thousand police in riot gear clashed with protesters as they began tearing down opposition barricades and tents set up in the center of Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, early Wednesday, in an escalation of the weeks-long standoff threatening the leadership of President Viktor Yanukovych. Weeks ago, he backed away from a pact that would deepen the country’s economic ties with the 28-nation European Union.

Uruguay to grow, sell marijuana

Uruguay’s Senate has approved the world’s first national marketplace for legal marijuana, a plan that puts the government in charge of growing, selling and using a drug that is illegal almost everywhere else.