5th March, 15:00

Italy

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Freed Italian hostage Giuliana Sgrena returned home, hours after US troops wounded her in a shooting incident near Baghdad airport in which an Italian secret agent was killed.

Italy

Newspapers called for a swift explanation by Washington of the circumstances that led to the shooting of Italian hostage Giuliana Sgrena and the killing of a secret service agent by US troops in Iraq.

Lebanon

Units from the Lebanese army briefly took up positions near the Beirut headquarters of Syrian army intelligence Saturday afternoon and later withdrew, according to an eyewitness.

Vatican

Pope John Paul II will again give a silent blessing from his hospital room window during the traditional Sunday Angelus prayers, as he did last week, Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls confirmed.

Iran

Iran's top nuclear official warned the United States and Europe of the danger of an oil crisis if Tehran is sent before the UN Security Council over its nuclear programme, but said that a deal with Europe could be near.

Ukraine

Ukraine's former president Leonid Kuchma left the Czech Republic for Kiev, where authorities are seeking to question him over the gruesome death of a reporter, Czech officials said.

Ireland

A large majority of people in the Irish Republic, including most Sinn Fein supporters, want the party to split from its outlawed IRA military wing, according to a new poll.

Niger

Rhissa Ag Boula, a former leader of Tuareg rebels turned government minister, has been freed in Niger after spending more than a year in jail for alleged complicity in murder, a local radio reported.

Kyrgyzstan

Several hundred protestors occupied a regional governor's headquarters in Kyrygzstan for a second day in a tense stand-off over election results they said the former Soviet republic's authorities had falsified.

Pakistan

Pakistani security forces killed two suspected militants and arrested 11 more in a raid near the Afghan border, officials said.

HongKong

Concerns about the future of Hong Kong's autonomy under Chinese rule grew following reports that Beijing will flout the territory's constitution in appointing a new leader.

China

Premier Wen Jiabao admitted China faced "glaring" social problems and pledged more help for the poor to deal with simmering unrest as he forecast economic growth of eight percent this year.

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