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MAURITANIA: French hostage reported slain

Al-Qaida has executed a French hostage in retaliation for France's military intervention in northern Mali, a Mauritanian-based website says. The Noukachott Information Agency (ANI), frequently used by al-Qaida's North African chapter for its messages, posted the report late Tuesday. It was not possible to verify the execution claim independently. ANI quoted a man who called himself Ghairawani, a spokesman for al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, as saying its fighters had executed Philippe Verdon, on March 10. He was kidnapped with another Frenchman from their hotel room in eastern Mali in November 2011.

SYRIA: Chemical warfare charges

The government and rebels traded accusations Tuesday of a chemical attack on a northern village, although the United States said there was no evidence it had happened. The competing claims showed a willingness by both sides to go to new levels to seek support from world powers. One of the international community's biggest concerns is that Syria's arsenal of chemical weapons could be used by one side or the other, or fall into the hands of foreign jihadi fighters among the rebels or the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, which is allied with the regime of President Bashar Assad.

INDIA: Fleeing tourist hurt in leap

On a day when lawmakers discussed a new anti-rape law, a British tourist jumped off a balcony of her hotel room to escape being sexually assaulted by the hotel owner in Agra, the city of the Taj Mahal, police said Tuesday. The tourist fractured her leg in her jump from the second floor. Police said the owner knocked on her door at 4 a.m., offered her a massage and refused to leave. He then tried to enter her room forcibly with a security guard, and the tourist jumped off the balcony to escape, police said. The hotel owner was arrested. Three days earlier, a Swiss woman was gang-raped as she bicycled through central India with her husband.

EGYPT: Gadhafi ex-aide arrested

Security forces arrested a close aide of ousted Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi on Tuesday in a siege at his Cairo home, a security official said. Ahmed Qaddaf al-Dam surrendered to security forces after shots were fired. Qaddaf al-Dam is among dozens wanted for their role in Libya's 2011 civil war.

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