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Battles between rival ethnic groups spread across South Sudan on Friday as foreign governments scrambled to get their nationals away from reported slaughters and a refugee buildup. African ministers pushed President Salva Kiir to start talks with his former vice president Riek Machar. But the death toll mounted and the United Nations strongly condemned an attack on one of its bases in which at least 11 civilians and two Indian peacekeepers were killed. The UN says more than 35,000 people are sheltering in its compounds across the country and Juba airport was packed with foreigners scrambling to escape the chaos.
A federal judge on Friday struck down Utah's ban on gay marriage, saying that the western state's law -- approved by voters in a referendum in 2004 -- violates the US constitution. Judge Robert J. Shelby of Utah's Federal District Court, said the state's law conflicts with the right of same-sex couples to equal protection under the 14th Amendment to the constitution. "It is only under exceptional circumstances that a court interferes with such action," he wrote in the 53-page ruling, based on a lawsuit filed by three gay and lesbian couples who wish to marry in Utah, but are unable to do so.
Russia's most famous prisoner and Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky on Friday arrived in Germany a free man after more than 10 years behind bars, in a whirlwind release hours after his surprise pardon by President Vladimir Putin. The former oil tycoon was escorted out of his prison in northwestern Russia, in a hush-hush operation worked out behind the scenes with the German government and brokered by Berlin's former foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher. In a dizzying succession of events, the father of four then boarded a plane that landed at Berlin's Schoenefeld airport. A source told AFP that Khodorkovsky's ailing mother Marina, 79, who has cancer, was currently in Russia but planned to fly out on Saturday to Berlin where she has been undergoing treatment.