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Signs of discord as more joint Iran nuclear talks with deadline nearing

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Negotiations over Iran's nuclear program have taken on a frantic tone amid signs of discord in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The French and German foreign ministers have joined Secretary of State John Kerry in talks with Tehran's top diplomat ahead of an end-of-March deadline for a preliminary deal.

Negotiators have been meeting multiple times in various formats to produce what they hope will be an outline of an agreement that can become the basis for a comprehensive deal to be reached by the end of June.

Officials describe obstacles, including Iranian resistance to limits on research and development and demands for more speedy and broad relief from international sanctions.

But Iran's foreign minister suggests the blame for any impasses lies with the U.S. and its partners, writing on Twitter that "both sides must show flexibility."

Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (hah-SAHN' roh-HAH'-nee) has spoken by phone with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to emphasize the importance of reaching an agreement.

But Russia's deputy foreign minister still puts the chances of an agreement "significantly" above 50 percent.


Saudis say tracking Yemen rebel groups headed to border

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (AP) — Saudi Arabia says that multiple groups of Yemeni Shiite rebels are moving toward the two countries' shared border.

The Gulf kingdom is leading a coalition of countries conducting airstrikes against the rebels, known as Houthis. Speaking from the Saudi capital, Riyadh, Ahmed Asiri, a spokesman of the coalition campaign, told reporters that the coalition was tracking at least two rebel groups.

Asiri promises that Saudi Arabia and the coalition "will not allow" the Houthis to cross or threaten the Saudi border.

Meanwhile, Yemen's embattled president and the Shiite rebels who forced him to flee the country are accusing each other of being the "puppet" of a bigger power.

At an Arab summit in Egypt today, President Abdel Rabbo Mansour Hadi accused the Houthi rebels of being "stooges of Iran," directly blaming the Islamic Republic for the chaos there. Hadi says the rebels are destroying Yemen with their "political adolescence" and manufactured crises and called for Saudi-led airstrikes to continue until the rebels surrender.

A senior official of Houthi's political arm says Saudi Arabia is calling all the shots at the summit, where Egypt's president called for a regional Arab military force.


Afghan court sentences AP journalist's killer to 20 years

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghanistan's highest court has ruled that a police officer convicted of murdering Associated Press photographer Anja Niedringhaus and wounding an AP correspondent almost one year ago should serve 20 years in prison.

Documents sent to the country's attorney general on Saturday reduce the final sentence for former Afghan police unit commander Naqibullah — who was originally sentenced to death last year.

Naqibullah, who uses only one name, opened fire on Niedringhaus and Kathy Gannon without warning as they were covering Afghanistan's presidential election outside the southeastern city of Khost in April.

An award-winning German photographer, Niedringhaus was renowned for her humane depictions of ordinary life as well as for her coverage of conflict zones.


Boko Haram kills 39, legislator, disrupting Nigeria election

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — Witnesses and officials say Boko Haram extremists killed 39 people, including a legislator, in northeastern Nigeria, disrupting the country's presidential election.

All the attacks took place in the northeast where the military Friday announced it had cleared the Islamic extremists from all major centers.

Residents of the town of Miringa say Boko Haram militants torched people's homes early Saturday and then shot them as they tried to escape. Twenty-five reportedly died.

Witnesses and officials say another 14 people, including Gombe state legislator Umaru Ali, died later Saturday in attacks on the towns of Biri and Dukku.

Elsewhere, tens of millions of Nigerians took part in the closely contested and largely peaceful presidential election.


Somali hotel siege leaves 24 dead

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Al-Shabab is claiming some of the gunman escaped after a deadly 12-hour siege of a hotel in Somalia's capital.

Somali special forces regained control of the hotel, which is popular with government officials and foreigners, this morning. At least 24 people were killed in the assault, including six attackers and one soldier.

Al-Shabab is promising more attacks. The Islamic extremist group has carried out many attacks in Somalia and controlled much of Mogadishu between 2007 and 2011, but was pushed out of Somalia's capital and other major cities by African Union forces.


Guinea deploys police as Sierra Leoneans flee Ebola lockdown

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) — Guinea has deployed security forces to the country's southwest in response to reports that people from Sierra Leone are crossing the border to flee an Ebola lockdown intended to stamp out the deadly disease.

Officials in Guinea say residents reported tension resulting from a large influx of Sierra Leoneans in recent days. The lockdown went into effect Friday and ends Sunday.

One Guinean resident says those fleeing Sierra Leone aren't wanted and asks: "Why would they leave their country if they didn't have Ebola?" Another resident says security forces had to intervene to prevent clashes last night between those coming into Guinea and locals.

The southwest region of Guinea borders northern districts of Sierra Leone that are focus areas for the lockdown. A spokesman for Sierra Leone's government says the two countries had agreed to police the border to ensure people with Ebola symptoms did not cross.

Ebola has infected nearly 12,000 people in Sierra Leone, more than any other country. The latest weekly total of 33 confirmed cases is the lowest since last June.


Crash victim's father calls for more focus on pilot welfare

SISTERON, France (AP) — The father of one of the victims of this week's plane crash in the French Alps is calling for airlines to take greater care over pilots' welfare.

French prosecutors have said they believe German co-pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately crashed the Germanwings flight. Authorities have since said Lubitz hid evidence of an illness from his employers — including a sick note for the day of the crash.

Speaking near the site of the crash, Philip Bramley says Lubitz's motive was irrelevant. Bramley's 28-year-old son, Paul, was one of 150 people killed in Tuesday's disaster. He says action must be taken to ensure the incident is not repeated.

Aviation experts say medical checks on pilots are stringent but focus mainly on physical health. A pilot's mental state is usually only assessed before companies decide whether to admit them to a training program.

A special Mass was being held today in a town near the crash site to honor the victims and support their families.


NEW: Wildfire threatens Montana ski area, forcing evacuation

RED LODGE, Mont. (AP) — Authorities evacuated a ski lodge in southern Montana on Saturday because of a wind-driven wildfire heading toward it.

U.S. Forest Service spokesman Jeff Gildehaus says the wildfire was reported about 1:45 p.m. Saturday and had burned an estimated 200 acres of grass and timber about 4 miles west of the community of Red Lodge.

The fire began on open private land, but it was driven by 35 mph winds into the Custer National Forest, where the Red Lodge Mountain Resort ski area is located.

Gildehaus says the decision to evacuate the ski area was made about 2:30 p.m. He isn't sure how many people were evacuated but estimated about 500.

No one answered the telephone at the ski area Saturday afternoon.

Other wildfires were reported elsewhere in Montana and northern Wyoming.


Decorated Boston cop in coma after being shot in face

BOSTON (AP) — Boston's police commissioner says a decorated officer remains in critical condition in a medically induced coma after being shot in the face Friday night when gang unit officers stopped a car.

Commissioner William Evans said Saturday morning that 34-year-old Officer John Moynihan was struck just below his right eye and the bullet remains lodged below his right ear. He described Moynihan as "a fighter" and he hopes he's "going to pull through."

Evans says video shows Moynihan approaching the driver's door, and the suspect, 41-year-old Angelo West of Boston, shooting him at point blank range.

Evans says West fired at the other officers as he tried to run away and was killed when they returned fire. A woman driving down the street was shot in the arm, but is recovering.


Trooper wounded in barracks ambush hopes to return to force

DUNMORE, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania trooper wounded in a deadly ambush outside his barracks last fall says he hopes to eventually return to the state police force.

Trooper Alex Douglass, wounded in the Sept. 12 shooting outside the Blooming Grove barracks that killed Cpl. Bryon Dickson, made his first public remarks Saturday as the borough of Dunmore named a road after Dickson.

Douglass, who walked with a cane, told reporters he feels good and no longer needs crutches to get around. He says he has had 16 surgeries with one more scheduled next month.

Police arrested survivalist Eric Frein (FREEN) after a 48-day manhunt in the Pocono Mountains. Frein has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, terrorism and other charges, for which prosecutors say they plan to seek the death penalty.


LA commuter train hits car, partially derails; 21 hurt

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Officials say a Metro commuter train slammed into a car at a crossing in front of the University of Southern California today, seriously injuring the driver and the train's operator. Nineteen passengers on the train suffered lesser injuries.

The train was heading east toward downtown Los Angeles shortly before 11 a.m. when authorities say it appeared the car's driver didn't see it and tried to make a left turn across the tracks onto a major thoroughfare.

The car, a silver Hyundai, was all but demolished. The first two of the train's four cars slightly derailed, but they remained upright.

The train's operator was also badly hurt.

Nineteen passengers on the train suffered lesser injuries, mainly cuts and bruises.

Eight were taken to hospitals, and the others were released.


Australia signs up to negotiations on Chinese-led bank

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia has announced that it will join negotiations to establish a new a Chinese-led Asian regional bank.

The U.S. has expressed concern the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, or AIIB, will allow looser lending standards for the environment, labor rights and financial transparency. The U.S. also worries the new bank will undercut the World Bank, where the U.S. has the most clout, and the Asian Development Bank, where it is the second-largest shareholder after Japan.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Treasurer Joe Hockey said in a joint statement on Sunday that the government will sign a memorandum of understanding that will allow Australia to participate as a prospective founding member in negotiations to set up the bank.