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Advancing Iraq troops enter strategic town on edge of Tikrit

A Shi'ite fighter carries a rocket-propelled grenade launcher as he walks in the town of Hamrin in Salahuddin provinceBy Saif Hameed and Dominic Evans BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi government forces and Iran-backed militiamen entered a town on the southern outskirts of Saddam Hussein's home city Tikrit on Friday, pressing on with the biggest offensive yet against Islamic State militants that seized the north last year. Military commanders said the army and mostly Shi'ite militia forces had retaken the town of al-Dour on Tikrit's outskirts, known outside Iraq as the area where executed former dictator Saddam was found hiding in a pit near a farm house in 2003. Some officials said the troops were still only in the south and east of the town, which had been rigged with bombs by retreating Islamic State fighters. The army, joined by thousands of Shi'ite militiamen backed and advised by Iran, is five days into an advance on Saddam's home city of Tikrit, by far the biggest target yet in a campaign to roll back last year's advance by Islamic State fighters.



Egyptian strikes kill 25 militants in two days - sources

Protesters opposing Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi are pictured through an Egyptian flag during a protest near the presidential palace in CairoEgyptian military air strikes have killed 25 Islamist militants in Northern Sinai over the last two days, security sources said, targeting an insurgency that seeks to topple the Cairo government. On Friday, air raids hit two houses south of the Sinai town of Sheikh Zuweid, killing 10 militants from Ansar Beit al-Maqdis - which renamed itself Sinai Province after pledging allegiance to Islamic State - the sources said. On Thursday, 15 militants were killed when air strikes hit three homes south of Sheikh Zuweid.



Colorful 'body sculptor' back in on stand in murder trial

FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Philadelphia Police Department shows Padge Gordon, also known as Padge Victoria Windslowe. Windslowe, an aspiring hip-hop artist who boasts about her talent for underground "body sculpting," has one last chance to impress a jury before the panel weighs murder charges against her in a dancer's death. Windslowe has been testifying since Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015, and faces more cross-examination this week. (AP Photo/Philadelphia Police Department, File)PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A Gothic hip-hop artist and former escort service madam has offered a mix of fawning, fiery and flirtatious testimony at her trial in the death of a young London dancer who received illegal buttocks injections.



Security questioned in probe of attack on US envoy to Seoul

South Korean conservative activists hold candles during a rally to wish U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert a speedy recovery, in front of Severance hospital where he is hospitalized, in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, March 6, 2015. Police on Friday investigated the motive of the anti-U.S. activist they say slashed Lippert, as questions turned to whether security was neglected. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Police on Friday investigated the motive of the anti-U.S. activist they say slashed the U.S. ambassador to South Korea, as questions turned to whether security was neglected.



Apple to join Dow blue-chip index later this month

The inclusion of Apple in the Dow Jones Industrial Index comes long after the iPhone and iPad maker had become the biggest US company by market capitalization, now with a value of more than $730 billionUS tech giant Apple will join the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Index later this month, replacing venerable telecom company AT and T, S and P Dow Jones Indices announced Friday. The inclusion of the iPhone and iPad maker in the elite list of 30 top companies comes long after Apple had earning the title of the world's biggest company by market capitalization, now with a value of more than $730 billion. S and P Dow Jones said it shifted Apple into the prestigious index to ensure adequate representation of the information technology sector. "As the largest corporation in the world and a leader in technology, Apple is the clear choice for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the most recognized stock market measure," said David Blitzer, managing director of the index committee at S and P Dow Jones Indices.





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