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SOMALIA: Exchange of fire with pirates

Somali pirates hit a Spanish fishing boat off the coast of Kenya with a rocket-propelled grenade Thursday as private security on board returned fire at the would-be hijackers. The successful defense of the fishing vessel Albacan illustrates two trends driving up the stakes for sailors and pirates off the Horn of Africa: Better trained and protected crews are increasingly able to repel attacks, but pirates are resorting to violence much more often. None of the 33 crew members or three guards was hurt in Thursday's incident.


AFGHANISTAN: UN envoy: Time to talk with Taliban

The head of the UN mission in Afghanistan said Thursday that it's "high time" a political solution is found with the Taliban to resolve the more than 8-year-old conflict. In his last news conference as the UN representative, Kai Eide said he hoped a spring peace jirga that President Hamid Karzai is organizing would result in a national consensus for peace. Two service members with the international force died Thursday in the south, one in a roadside bombing and one in a vehicle accident, NATO said.


PAKISTAN: Another Taliban leader arrested

Pakistan's intelligence agents have arrested a senior Afghan Taliban commander, the latest move in a crackdown against the insurgent network. Agha Jan Mohtasim, a former finance minister for the Taliban before the U.S-led invasion in 2001, was detained in the southern city of Karachi, intelligence officials said Thursday.


SWEDEN: Ferry with 1,000 freed from ice

A passenger ferry with nearly 1,000 people on board broke free early Friday from heavy pack ice that had trapped it for hours in the Baltic Sea off Sweden's east coast, officials said. Dozens of other ships remained stuck and awaiting assistance after gale-force winds built up large ice masses along the coastline. Ice breakers helped release the ferry Amorella at the edge of an archipelago north of Stockholm. The Swedish Maritime Administration said the Amorella had 753 passengers and 190 crew on board. The 10-deck ship belongs to Viking Line, which operates Baltic cruises between Sweden and Finland.

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