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AFGHANISTAN: Prison torture continuing, UN says

Afghan authorities are still torturing prisoners, such as hanging them by their wrists and beating them with cables, the United Nations said, a year after it first documented the abuse and won government promises of detention reform. The latest report shows little progress in curbing abuse in Afghan prisons despite efforts by the UN and international military forces. The report released Sunday also cited instances of Afghan authorities having tried to hide mistreatment from UN monitors. The slow progress on prison reform has prompted NATO forces to once again stop many transfers of detainees to Afghan authorities out of concern that they would be tortured. In a letter in response, the Afghan government said its internal monitoring committee found that "the allegations of torture of detainees were untrue and thus disproved." It said, however, that it would not completely rule out the possibility of torture at its detention facilities.


MALI: Gains reported against rebels

Backed by French airstrikes, Malian forces appeared close to recapturing a key central town from bands of al-Qaida-linked fighters, France's defense minister said Sunday. The French military has spent nine days helping the West African nation quash a jihadist rebellion in its vast northern desert. The comments from Jean-Yves Le Drian, however, appeared to cast some doubt on local military claims that the town of Diabaly had already been recaptured from the Islamists. Diabaly was taken over by the al-Qaida-linked militants last week. The French said fighter planes and helicopter gunships had carried out a dozen operations in the previous 24 hours, half of them to strike "terrorist vehicles."


ISRAEL: Netanyahu defends building plans

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended building in the West Bank on Sunday as he sought to recapture the votes of who have gravitated to the upstart Jewish Home party ahead of Tuesday's election. Netanyahu went to the Ariel settlement to attend the funeral of its longtime mayor, Ron Nachman, who died Friday, and sought to reassure residents it would not be dismantled in any peace deal with the Palestinians. Netanyahu gave his eulogy at a service attended by 1,000 people. Parties that support Netanyahu remaining in office will win a majority of seats in parliament in the election, according to a poll published Friday in the daily Yediot Ahronot.

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