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Blast in Kabul...Rebels attack Ukrainian city...Purported hostage video released

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KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghan police say a truck has exploded on the outskirts of the capital. It's the first attack in Kabul in almost three weeks. A police official says the truck was packed with explosives and damaged a nearby gas station when it blew up. He says the vehicle was trying to enter the city but was stopped by officers before it exploded. He says casualties are expected.

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian officials are alarmed by a rocket attack on a port city Saturday that left at least 30 people dead. Ukraine's top separatist leader says it's the start of an offensive against the strategic city of Mariupol (mah-ROO'-pahl). The government is sending more troops and bolstering defenses to fend off the rebels. Ukraine's president calls the blitz a terrorist attack.

UNDATED (AP) — There's a growing belief that an online video claiming that one of the two Japanese hostages held by Islamic State militants is dead is real although it hasn't been confirmed. Japan's prime minister says it's likely authentic. And President Barack Obama is condemning what he calls "the brutal murder" of the hostage although he isn't saying how the U.S. knows the man is dead.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is trying to connect with Iowa conservatives. He's still undeclared but left few doubts today that he's primed to enter the 2016 GOP presidential race. Christie told voters at the Iowa Freedom Summit that they shouldn't let his blunt style turn them off. He said --quote -- "you'll always know what I believe and you'll always know where I stand."

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The powerful Santa Ana winds are again battering Southern California. Gusts topping 89 mph toppled trees and power poles on Saturday, leaving thousands of people without electricity in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles and parts of San Bernardino County east of L.A. A high-surf advisory warning of up to 11-foot-high surf is in effect through Sunday

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