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Armed Intervention for Mali Being Finalized

International officials are finalizing plans for deploying troops and sending military support to Mali to help it retake the north of the country from al-Qaida-linked militants who seized control in April.

Representatives from the United Nations, African Union, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), European Union and other partner countries are meeting Tuesday and Wednesday in Bamako to finalize operational plans for the African-led military intervention.

Monitoring Group: Sudanese Factory Hit by Airstrike

A U.S.-based monitoring group says satellite images suggest an airstrike caused an explosion at a Sudanese arms factory last week.

The Satellite Sentinel Project released images Tuesday that show six 16-meter-wide craters near the center of the explosion.

The group said the holes are consistent with impact craters created by air-delivered munitions. It said 40 shipping containers had been stacked in the area where the craters were formed.

Sudan has accused Israel of using warplanes to bomb the arms factory in Khartoum in an attempt to derail Sudan's military capabilities.

UN Says 22,000 Displaced in Burma Fighting

The top U.N. official in Burma says 22,000 people have been displaced in a week of sectarian fighting between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in Burma's Rakhine state.

The U.N. chief in Rangoon, Ashok Nigam, said Sunday that getting aid to those who fled their homes will be a challenge, because some fled on boats and others have sought refuge on isolated hilltops.

The Burmese government said Saturday that the fighting has left more than 2,800 houses burned down and 67 people dead in the past week.

Death Toll in Burma Clashes Doubles

The death toll from sectarian clashes in Burma's coastal Rakhine state has doubled to 112 with over 70 reported injured, including children. The official figures surpass the bloodshed in fighting this summer and were released after President Thein Sein vowed to restore peace between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims. But, authorities are struggling to restore order.

The sectarian fighting that erupted this week between Rakhine Buddhists and Muslim Rohingya is the worst this year in Burma's western Rakhine state.

Japan Spots Chinese Ships Near Contested Islands

Japan says four Chinese government ships entered waters near contested Tokyo-controlled islands in the East China Sea, as a territorial dispute between the two Asian giants drags on.

Japan's Coast Guard said the Chinese surveillance vessels spent several hours within a 22-kilometer zone surrounding the islands Thursday. It said this is the first time in three weeks that Chinese ships have entered the zone, which Japan considers its territory.

Russia: Syrian Rebels Have US-Made Anti-Aircraft Weapons

Russia’s senior general says that rebels in Syria have acquired shoulder-mounted surface-to-air missiles, including a model made in the United States. General Staff Chief Nikolai Marakov says that officials need to determine who supplied the weapons to Syria’s opposition.

Interfax news agency quotes General Nikolai Marakov as saying "that militants fighting Syrian government forces have portable missile launchers of various states, including American-made Stingers.”

He did not make any direct accusation of how the rebels acquired the weapons.

Tokyo Confirms Talks with China on Island Dispute

Japan says it is engaged in talks with China to resolve a territorial dispute that has disrupted ties between the two Asian powers.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura on Wednesday confirmed reports that Vice Foreign Minister Chikao Kawai secretly met last week with senior Chinese officials in Shanghai. He said the talks were part of Tokyo's effort to continue to communicate with Beijing "at various levels" regarding the island dispute in the East China Sea.

Political Winter Descends on Russia

As gray winter skies descend on Moscow, Russians are adjusting to a political winter. Since taking office nearly six months ago, President Vladimir Putin has methodically reduced civic space in Russia by advocating new laws on treason, blasphemy, libel, Internet censorship and curbs on public protest.

Then on Monday, Russians saw a new twist: a well-known opposition activist, Leonid Razvozzhayev, shouting to reporters that he had been kidnapped off a sidewalk in Kyiv, Ukraine, and forcibly brought to Moscow for trial.

Iran-UAE Island Dispute Could Escalate

Together, Abu Musa, Greater Tunbs and Lesser Tunbs amount to fewer than 26 square kilometers of sand and scrub. But their location in the middle of Persian Gulf shipping and tanker lanes near the Strait of Hormuz gives the islands huge strategic importance.