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Tuareg festival revives dreams of tourism in troubled Niger

Dishes of spit-roasted lamb were served and the sound of electric guitars echoed across the pink Saharan dunes towards the Air Mountains.. The eagerly-awaited three-day party unfolded in Iferouane, an oasis sandwiched between desert and mountains 1,200 kilometres (750 miles) from the Nigerien capital Niamey.

War of attrition: Russia's stubborn fight for Ukraine's Bakhmut

For months, Russian forces have attacked the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut with frontal assaults, artillery barrages and air strikes in a stubborn battle for a settlement deemed strategically irrelevant by many observers.  . The assault follows a well-worn pattern eked out by Russian forces in eastern Ukraine, where cities are pummelled under withering assaults at great cost until the Ukrainian military retreats. 

UK media returns fire at 'Harry the Nasty' over Netflix doc

Britain's media, the main focus of criticism so far in Netflix docuseries "Harry and Meghan", on Friday hit back at the estranged prince and his wife, accusing them of lying and insulting Queen Elizabeth II. The royal family was largely spared during the first three episodes of the show, which aired on Thursday, with the focus more on Harry's early life and his resentment towards the media, which he blames of the death of his mother Diana.. The left-wing Guardian newspaper was more supportive of the couple, and focused on Prince Harry's criticism that the royal family did not protect Meghan against racially charged reporting. 

The art teacher who showed the world China's protests

Just a few months ago, he was an ordinary Chinese art teacher who posted his personal thoughts and paintings online.. Used to sharing his personal thoughts or art online, Li began venturing into social issues -- which, like politics, can be sensitive topics in China.

One killed in massive fire in Moscow shopping centre

One person died Friday in a massive blaze the size of a football pitch which broke out overnight in a sprawling shopping and entertainment centre in a northern Moscow suburb.. Russian media later reported that one person had been killed in the fire at the Mega Khimki shopping centre, about seven kilometres (four miles) from Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport. 

Bangladesh opposition says top leaders taken by police

The two top leaders of Bangladesh's main opposition party were taken from their homes by police in the early hours Friday, a party spokesman said, a day before a planned rally was to call for the prime minister's resignation.. BNP spokesman Swapan said police had arrested "around 2,000" party activists and supporters in a bid to scuttle the December 10 rally.

Iran triggers outrage with first hanging over protests

Iran carried out its first known execution Thursday over the protests that have shaken the regime since September, sparking an international outcry and warnings from rights groups that more hangings are imminent.. At least a dozen other people are currently at risk of execution after being sentenced to hang in connection with the protests, human rights groups warned.

Industry lobbies against biodiversity goals: research

Lobbyists for pesticide and fertiliser producers are pushing "behind the scenes" against stronger protection for species and ecosystems at the COP15 biodiversity conference, research showed Thursday.. "We've tracked efforts from industry associations representing some of the world's biggest pesticide and fertiliser producers... strongly resisting global and EU targets for reducing the use of biodiversity-harming agrichemicals."

EU welcomes Croatia into Schengen, blocks Bulgaria, Romania

The EU on Thursday approved Croatia as the newest member of the border check-free Schengen zone from next month, but Austria and the Netherlands blocked Romania and Bulgaria from joining.. The outcome was bitter news for Bulgaria and Romania, the EU's two poorest nations ,which have been trying for a decade to join Schengen and whose bids were linked together, unlike Croatia's.

Viktor Bout: 'Merchant of death' arms smuggler

Former Soviet air force pilot Viktor Bout, who was swapped for US basketball star Brittney Griner on Thursday, fuelled some of the world's bloodiest conflicts by trafficking weapons across several continents.. Born in Tajikistan's capital Dushanbe in 1967 when it was still under Soviet rule, Bout studied languages -- including English, French and Portuguese -- at Moscow's military institute for foreign languages before joining the air force.