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In a restive northwest Pakistan valley, troops and militants battled Wednesday in a conflict that reportedly killed dozens and undermined the new government's disputed strategy of offering peace deals to pro-Taliban insurgents. The Army announced an indefinite, round-the-clock curfew throughout the Swat Valley, a day after militants abducted at least 25 police and paramilitary troops.

North Korea faces its worst food crisis since the late 1990s because of flooding and poor harvests, putting millions at risk, the UN's World Food Program said Wednesday. The organization said it would launch an international appeal for aid, this after 400,000 metric tons of US food has already been shipped. During the 1990s, an estimated 2 million North Koreans died of hunger because of natural disasters and econmic hardship.

An Al Qaeda front group in Iraq has posted an Internet statement denying responsibility for recent suicide bombings against Shiite Muslim pilgrims. The Islamic State of Iraq also said it is starting a campaign in the northern city of Mosul.

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