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    Hong Kong’s embattled leader attended a flag-raising ceremony early today to mark China’s National Day after refusing to meet pro-democracy demonstrators, despite their threats to expand the protests that have posed the stiffest challenge to
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Ukraine rebels retreat as forces secure cities

– Ukraine’s army turned the tide against pro-Russian insurgents with its biggest victories of a three-month campaign, sending the rebels fleeing to the eastern strongholds where they have vowed to make a stand.

After recapturing Slovyansk and Kramatorsk, government forces secured control of the Donetsk region towns of Artemivsk and Druzhkivka, military officials told President Petro Poroshenko on Sunday. The insurgents are bolstering defenses in Donetsk in preparation for an onslaught, Denis Pushilin, leader of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, said on Twitter.

The government plans a “complete blockade” of Donetsk and the region’s other main city, Luhansk, that will force rebels to lay down arms, Inter TV cited Mikhailo Koval, deputy head of the National Defense and Security Council, as saying.

22 die in assaults on Kenyan coast

Twenty-two people were killed in overnight attacks by gunmen on the Kenyan coast, the Kenya Red Cross said Sunday.

Al-Qaida-linked militants claimed responsibility but Kenyan officials blamed local separatists.

The Saturday night attacks left 13 dead in the town of Hindi and nine dead and one person missing in the town of Gamba, in neighboring Lamu and Tana Delta counties, Kenya Red Cross chief Abbas Gulet said.

Syria Coalition to pick new president

The main Western-backed Syrian opposition group began a three-day meeting in Istanbul on Sunday to elect a new president and discuss the offensive by Islamic militants straddling Iraq and Syria, an official with the group said.

The Syrian National Coalition will pick a replacement for President Ahmad al-Jarba, in a vote expected Tuesday. The top candidates are senior coalition members Hadi Bahra and Muwaffaq Nairabiyeh, who belong to Jarba’s Democratic bloc.

Elected in July 2013, Jarba has served two six-month terms, the maximum period allowed by the coalition.

Canada lifts alerts in wake of Arthur

Arthur moved Sunday across Newfoundland, a day after the storm struck Canada’s Maritime provinces with near-hurricane strength winds and torrential rains, knocking down trees and leaving tens of thousands of people without electrical power.

Environment Canada lifted all storm warnings in the Atlantic region in the wake of the potent storm. The storm’s center was expected to move into the open Atlantic by late Sunday.

Arthur had been downgraded from a hurricane to a post-tropical storm Saturday morning before it slammed into Atlantic Canada.