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AP Top International News at 1:18 p.m. EDT

General: Extremists plotting attacks on West from Raqqa
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The commander of the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State group says there's an urgent need to encircle the extremists' stronghold in the Syrian city of Raqqa because of intelligence warnings that attacks on Western targets are being plotted there....

OBAMA LEGACY: A quiet mission to export gay rights overseas
WASHINGTON (AP) -- While the world was watching America's gay rights transformation, the Obama administration was pursuing a quieter mission to export gay rights overseas....

The Latest: US abstains in UN on Cuba embargo for first time
UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The Latest on the U.S. abstention from a U.N. resolution condemning the embargo against Cuba (all times local):...

Afghan official: Taliban insurgents abduct, kill 26 people
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Taliban insurgents on Wednesday killed 26 Afghan civilians after abducting them in the remote central province of Ghor the previous day, officials said, the latest brutal attack targeting the local population in one of the country's most lawless areas....

Pakistan city shuts down, mourns 61 killed at police academy
QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) -- Pakistan's city of Quetta shut down on Wednesday following a militant rampage at a police academy the day before as the victims' families buried 60 police cadets and an army officer killed in the attack - one of the deadliest targeting Pakistani security forces in recent years....

Venezuela braces for anti-government protests amid crisis
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- Venezuela's political standoff deepened Wednesday as anti-government demonstrators began gathering for a mass protest after congress voted to open a political trial against President Nicolas Maduro, hoping to drive the unpopular socialist leader from office....

Russia drops Spain ship refueling request amid NATO uproar
BRUSSELS (AP) -- Russia on Wednesday withdrew a request to refuel a fleet of Russian warships in Spain, as Britain and NATO allies piled pressure on Madrid over concerns that the ships could be used to ramp up air attacks in Syria....

US says it will abstain on UN vote on Cuba embargo
UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The United States announced Tuesday that it will abstain for the first time in 25 years on a U.N. resolution condemning America's economic embargo against Cuba, a resolution it had always vehemently opposed....

Iraqi forces evacuate 1,000 civilians from Mosul front lines
KHAZER, Iraq (AP) -- Iraqi special forces have moved more than 1,000 people out of villages near the front lines of the battle to retake the Islamic State-held city of Mosul and surrounding areas, where the U.N. says militants have committed a number of abuses in recent days, officials said Wednesday....

Experts hope bacteria can beat Zika
LONDON (AP) -- Researchers are trying to infect mosquitoes in Brazil and Colombia with a type of bacteria that could prevent them from spreading Zika virus and other dangerous diseases....

World Video
Up to the Minute
South African photographer Juda Ngwenya is remembered

Pakistan arrests National Geographic's famed 'Afghan girl'

Strong earthquake rattles central Italy and Rome, shaking centuries-old buildings in capital

Latin America/Caribbean
Venezuela braces for anti-government protests amid crisis

Middle East
Israel charges 13 seen in extremist wedding video