• Afghan negotiator welcomes prisoner release
  • Hundreds hurt in New Year’s parties in Philippines
  • Gunmen kill 5 female teachers in Pakistan
  • Egypt’s largest ultraconservative party splits

Afghan negotiator welcomes prisoner release
Top Afghan negotiator Ismail Qasemyar said he hopes that eight members of the Taliban freed by Pakistan will serve as peace mediators, describing Islamabad’s move as a major step forward for Kabul’s effort to enlist its neighbor’s help in reaching a negotiated end to its 11-year war.

Hundreds hurt in New Year’s parties in Philippines
More than 400 people were hurt by powerful firecrackers and gunfire in New Year’s Eve celebrations in the Philippines, down 17 percent from a year earlier but still high enough to make it one of Asia’s most violent parties to welcome 2013.

Gunmen kill 5 female teachers in Pakistan
Gunmen in northwest Pakistan killed five teachers and two aid workers from a non-governmental organization Tuesday as they were driving home from work. The group’s director said they may have been targeted for their anti-polio work.

Egypt’s largest ultraconservative party splits
The leader of Egypt’s largest Islamist ultraconservative party announced Tuesday he is forming a new political party, splitting from the Salafi Al-Nour, which has emerged as the country’s second strongest political group. The new party is part of a proliferation of religion-based political parties.

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