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Blasts hit police truck carrying prisoners

BEIRUT (AP) -- A string of explosions struck a police truck transporting prisoners in a tense area of northwestern Syria on Saturday, killing at least 14 people, state media and an opposition group said. Government troops also battled defectors in the north in fighting that left 10 people dead.

The 10-month uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad began with largely peaceful anti-government protests, but has turned increasingly militarized and chaotic in recent months as more frustrated regime opponents and army defectors arm themselves and fight back against government forces.

The official SANA news agency said the ambush of the police truck occurred on the Idlib-Ariha highway, an area near the Turkish border that has witnessed intense fighting with army defectors recently.

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Abortion clinics get OK for television ads

LONDON (AP) -- Britain's broadcast advertising body has given the go-ahead for private abortion clinics to advertise their services on television, angering those who say that the move desensitizes the public to the practice.

The Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice said late Friday there was no justification for barring private clinics that offer post-pregnancy services, including abortions, from advertising on television.

The organization's spokesman, Matt Wilson, said that "there is not going to be some sort of free-for-all saying: 'Come to us to get an abortion.' They are not there to promote abortion, they have to promote an array of services."

Speaking to Britain's right-leaning Daily Mail, Conservative lawmaker Nadine Dories said the move would allow broadcasters to make a profit "through advertising revenue off the back of a service which ends life. It's appalling."

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Karzai holds talks with insurgent group

KABUL (AP) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Saturday he personally held peace talks recently with the insurgent faction Hizb-i-Islami, appearing to assert his own role in a U.S.-led bid for negotiations to end the country's war.

Karzai made the announcement hours before he met with American special representative Marc Grossman to discuss progress and plans for bringing the Taliban insurgency into formal talks for the first time.

"Recently, we met with a delegation from Hizb-i-Islami and had negotiations," Karzai told the Afghan parliament. "We are hopeful that these negotiations for peace continue and we will have good results," he added.

Hizb-i-Islami is a radical Islamist militia that controls territory in Afghanistan's northeast and launches attacks against U.S. forces from Pakistan. Its leader, powerful warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, is a former U.S. ally now listed as a terrorist by Washington.