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Jan. 14, 2013 at 11:59 AM   |   Comments

Mali battles on as U.N. mulls next steps

BAMAKO, Mali, Jan. 14 (UPI) -- As French fighters battle Islamist fighters in Mali, other world leaders mull what steps to take to snap Islamic militants' hold on parts of the African nation.

The U.N. Security Council was to discuss the conflict in Mali Monday as more governments, including the United States and Britain, consider greater support for the Malian government as it fights insurgents who control the north, CNN reported.

On Sunday, French jets bombed rebel training camps and other targets, France's Defense Ministry said in a statement.

"France's goal is to lead a relentless struggle against terrorist groups, preventing any new offensive of these groups to the south of Mali," the ministry said in a statement.

France deployed several hundred ground troops in Mali, where they soon may be joined by troops from African nations, CNN said.

Islamist rebels admitted Sunday they suffered losses in fights with the country's military and French troops, but that the losses wouldn't stop them.


More in U.S. now want stricter gun laws

PRINCETON, N.J., Jan. 14 (UPI) -- Thirty-eight percent of Americans say they're dissatisfied with current gun laws, up from 25 percent a year ago, Gallup said Monday.

Even though dissatisfaction has risen, a greater number of Americans, said they were either satisfied with gun laws, 43 percent, or think they should be eased, 5 percent, results of the annual USA Today-Gallup Mood of the Nation survey indicated.

The increase in support for strengthening gun laws is consistent with a December Gallup poll conducted after a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school, the Princeton, N.J., polling agency said.

Gallup's December poll on gun-law preferences found 58 percent of all Americans said gun laws should be stricter, up from 43 percent in 2011.

Results indicated most demographics are at least slightly more likely this year than in 2012 to say they are dissatisfied with gun laws and want them tightened.

Results are based on nationwide phone interviews with 1,011 adults conducted Jan. 7-10. The margin of error is 4 percentage points.


Seoul: Our missiles can find you any time

SEOUL, Jan. 14 (UPI) -- South Korea has developed missiles with global positioning systems that can hit a target day or night, the state arms development agency said Monday.

The Agency for Defense Development said the 500-pound bombs can strike objects that are hidden behind other structures, Yonhap news agency reported.

The devices were developed in the past five years with a budget of $378 million, the agency said, to improve the capabilities of fighter jets.

The bombs can also be carried by older model jets such as the F-4 and F-5, the agency said.

Each missile costs about $95,000.


Colombia, FARC open peace talks in Cuba

BOGOTA, Jan. 14 (UPI) -- A new round of peace talks began in Cuba Monday between Colombian officials and representatives of FARC, the country's largest rebel group, negotiators said.

The government's talks in Havana with members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia are aimed at ending 50 years of conflict, Colombia Reports reported.

Chief government negotiator Humberto de la Calle said his delegation had "all the will to advance" but the process "could not be prolonged indefinitely in time."

The government set November 2013 as the deadline for peace negotiations, but said it hoped a deal could be struck on agrarian reform before Easter.

FARC negotiators have voiced doubt about the deadline, Colombia Reports said.


Coast Guard repatriates 46 Cubans

MIAMI, Jan. 14 (UPI) -- Forty-six Cuban migrants have been returned to their home country, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

The Seventh Coast Guard District prosecuted four Cuban migration cases resulting in 46 interdicted migrants being repatriated to Bahia de Cabanas, the Coast Guard said Sunday in a release.

"As the primary federal maritime law enforcement agency, the Coast Guard is tasked with interdicting undocumented migrants attempting to enter the U.S. illegally by sea," said Rear Adm. William Baumgartner, Seventh Coast Guard District commander.

"Migrants who travel aboard ill-equipped vessels or smuggled aboard go-fast boats are putting their lives at extreme risk. Our migrant interdiction patrols help save lives by deterring dangerous illegal migrant activity and removing migrants from unsafe environments."

The Coast Guard regularly conducts patrols by air and sea to combat illegal migration. In 2012, the Coast Guard rescued 1,875 Cuban migrants.

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