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Islamic State Kidnaps 90 Assyrian Christians


FILE - Militant Islamist fighters hold the flag of the Islamic State group while taking part in a military parade along the streets of northern Raqqa province, Syria, June 30, 2014.

FILE - Militant Islamist fighters hold the flag of the Islamic State group while taking part in a military parade along the streets of northern Raqqa province, Syria, June 30, 2014.

An activist group said Tuesday Islamic State militants kidnapped at least 90 people from Assyrian Christian villages in Syria.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said residents were taken Monday after fighting in the Khabura area of Hassakeh province. The group monitors the violence in Syria.

Hassakeh province borders territory controlled by Islamist militants in Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of Assyrians, a mostly Christian minority ethnic group, live in nearby countries.

Islamic State fighters have targeted religious and ethnic minorities. The group uses kidnappings and killings to advance their territorial expansion across Syria and Iraq.

Monday's kidnappings marked the second high-profile attack by Islamic State militants on Christians this month. Last week, Islamic State allies in Libya released a video showing the beheadings of Egypt Coptic Christian workers who had been held hostage.

At least 27 dead in Nigerian bus station blasts

Suicide bombers targeted two crowded bus stations in northern Nigeria Tuesday, killing at least 27 people.

The first explosion, in the northeastern Nigerian town of Potiskum, killed at least 17 people. Witnesses said dozens more were wounded in the blast. The explosion occurred as a man was trying to get on a bus that was departing for Kano. Authorities said it was not clear whether the bomber was wearing explosives or had them hidden in luggage.

Several hours later, two men blew themselves up at a crowded bus park in Kano, northern Nigeria's biggest city, police said.

There was no claim of responsibility for either blast, but both attacks resembled those of the militant group Boko Haram.

Rebels in Ukraine say weapons pullback under way

Rebels in eastern Ukraine said they have started pulling back heavy weapons from the frontlines. The weapons pullback is required by an international cease-fire agreement.

Top rebel commander Eduard Basurin said the withdrawal began at 9 a.m. local time Tuesday. The move could not be confirmed by outside sources.

Ukrainian military officials have not responded. But, officials have said they will not pull back weapons off the frontlines as long as the fighting continues.

The Ukrainian government said rebel attacks continued Tuesday near the port city of Mariupol as well as near Debaltseve. Russian-backed separatists captured that city last week.

The violence has caused doubts about whether the cease-fire agreement can end the conflict in eastern Ukraine. The cease-fire should have begun February 15. The fighting has killed more than 5,600 people in the last 10 months.

Obama vetoes Keystone pipeline bill

U.S. President Barack Obama has vetoed a bill that would have allowed Congress to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada.

The White House sent notice of the veto to the Senate Tuesday. It is the third veto of Mr. Obama's presidency.

Officials warned that Mr. Obama would veto the measure. Republicans have made approving the Keystone XL pipeline one of their top priorities since taking control of Congress in January.

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Words in the News

kidnapv. to take away (someone) by force usually in order to keep the person as a prisoner and demand money for returning the person

resemblev. to look or be like (someone or something)

vetov. to reject (a proposed law) officially : to refuse to allow (a bill) to become a law

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