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Myanmar key players in rare roundtable talks

Myanmar's president has held rare roundtable talks with the opposition, military and ethnic groups, as the US calls for "credible" polls next year. The meeting comes days after officials announced the next general election would be held in late 2015. Ahead of the meeting, US President Barack Obama held telephone talks with both President Thein Sein and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. He urged Thein Sein to ensure the polls were "inclusive".

 

Three held over India 'tunnel' bank robbery

Indian police say they have arrested three men suspected of robbing a bank by digging a 125-foot (40-metre) tunnel straight into the vault. The thieves stole cash, jewellery and other valuables worth hundreds of thousands of dollars from a branch of the Punjab National Bank in Haryana. The tunnel started in an empty house nearby, police said. The body of the home-owner, who police say masterminded the raid, has been found in his car. Police say he took his life by consuming poison.

 

Burkina Faso's embattled President Blaise Compaore announced on Friday that he was stepping down following violent protests demanding an end to his 27-year rule.

In a statement issued by the presidency and read on local television, Compaore declared a "power vacuum" in the West African country and called for "free and transparent" elections within 90 days. Protesters were gathering for a second day in the Burkina Faso capital Ouagadougou, calling on President Blaise Compaore to resign immediately. Opposition figures used social media overnight to call for new protests. They are angry at President who responded to a day of violence by saying he would stay in power for a year under a transitional government.

 

Air strikes carried out by the Syrian air force over the past 10 days have killed at least 221 civilians, a third of them children.

Britain-based Syrian observatory for human rights said more than 500 people have been wounded. Since October 20, the Syrian military has staged at least 769 attacks including barrel bombings in many areas of Syria. Air strikes targeted the eastern province of Deir al-Zor, Homs in central Syria as well as contested provinces in the more populated west such as Latakia, Quneitra, Hama, Aleppo, Idlib and Deraa and the fringes of Damascus. Various amateur videos posted on the internet showed explosions resulting from the air strikes by the Syrian air force as well as rebel fighters firing at Syrian army positions. The Syrian armed forces have sharply increased the number of raids since a U.S.-led coalition of western and Arab states began bombing Islamic state forces in the country last month.

 

Tunisians voted in an election seen as pivotal to establishing democracy in the cradle of the Arab spring uprisings, with security forces deploying heavily to avert extremist attacks.

When polls opened at 7 am, dozens of voters were already queueing outside one polling station in Marseille street in Central Tunis. The North African nation has been hailed as a beacon of hope compared with other chaos-hit countries like Libya and Egypt where regimes were also toppled. But its transition has been tested at times by militant attacks and social unrest. On the eve of the polls, Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa warned of possible militants attacks aimed at disrupting the country's first post-revolution parliamentary election. On Friday, Tunisian police killed six suspected militants -- five of whom were women -- in a raid on a house in the outskirts of the capital. A policeman was also killed in an earlier firefight with the suspects. Up to 80,000 troops and police have been deployed in a bid to protect voters.

 
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