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State of emergency expected to be lifted

LATAKIA, Syria -- President Bashar Assad is expected to announce Tuesday that he is lifting a nearly 50-year state of emergency and moving to annul other harsh restrictions on civil liberties and political freedoms.

Member of Parliament Mohammed Habash told the Associated Press that lawmakers discussed the state of emergency during a Sunday night session and that Assad would make an announcement about the issue Tuesday. He offered no further details.

Ammar Qurabi, an exile in Egypt who heads Syria's National Organization for Human Rights, said there appeared to be divergent views within the Syrian leadership, with one branch that believes in a crackdown and another that believes in dialogue.


Policemen reportedly kidnapped by Taliban

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- The Taliban claimed Sunday that it kidnapped 50 Afghan policemen in northeastern Afghanistan -- part of the insurgents' murder and intimidation campaign against anyone affiliated with the U.S.-backed government.

Also Sunday, a NATO service member was killed in a roadside bombing in southern Afghanistan, the coalition said. No details were released about the death, which raised to 94 the number of international troops killed in Afghanistan so far this year.

Militants ambushed the policemen Saturday afternoon after being tipped off that they would be traveling in Kunar province, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said.


Peacekeeping force to get more troops

Mogadishu, Somalia (AP) -- The military chiefs of Uganda and Burundi say that their countries are in the process of deploying 4,000 additional troops to the African Union's peacekeeping mission in Somalia.

Burundi's Maj. Gen. Godefroid Niyombare and Uganda's Gen. Aronda Nyakairima said in a statement Saturday that each country has committed to give 2,000 additional soldiers.

They say that the current force of 8,000 AU peacekeepers supporting Somalia's weak-U.N. backed government was making progress in reoccupying territories held by the Islamist insurgents.

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