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Four-time World Player of the Year Lionel Messi will travel to his native Argentina on Friday to continue his recuperation from a torn hamstring, his club Barcelona confirmed on Thursday. Messi suffered his third and most serious muscle injury of the season earlier this month in a 4-1 win away to Real Betis and is not expected to return to action until after the La Liga winter break in January. "Once he has finished the first part of his recuperation, Lionel Messi will travel on Friday to Argentina, as had been planned, to begin the second phase under the supervision of the club's medical services," said a statement on the club's website. "Doctor Ricard Pruna and physical trainer Elvio Paulorroso will travel to Argentina in the middle of December to supervise the final part of his recovery from the injury.
A former bobsledder taking part in Russia's marathon Olympic torch relay ahead of next year's Winter Games in Sochi briefly caught fire while carrying the flame in Siberia. Homemade footage of the incident posted on Russian websites on Thursday showed the left sleeve of 2006 Turin Winter Games bobsleigh team member Pyotr Makarchuk bursting into flames from what appeared to be a leak in the torch. Makarchuk was at that moment running up to the podium for a formal Olympic cauldron lighting ceremony late Wednesday in the western Siberian city of Abakan. Russia has suffered through a string of misadventures with its much-vaunted Olympic torch, which is made by a renowned rocket production plant and which resembles a feather whose red and grey colours are supposed to symbolise fire and ice.
The assembly drafting a new Egyptian constitution will announce the completion of the draft later on Thursday, its spokesman said. "The head of the committee will announce the completion of the articles of the constitution and the end of the committee's mission later today," Mohamed Salmawy said in a televised news conference.
By Amy Sawitta Lefevre BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand's embattled Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra easily won a no-confidence vote in parliament on Thursday but failed to pacify anti-government protesters who rejected calls for talks and massed by the thousands in the capital. Waving multi-colored flags, blowing whistles and blocking traffic, protesters rallied outside the heavily barricaded national police headquarters, urging police to join their bid to topple Yinglick and her billionaire brother, ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The numbers of the protesters appear to have dwindled since the start of the week, raising questions over what's next in a conflict that broadly pits Bangkok's middle classes against the mostly rural supporters of Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006 military coup. Yingluck, who won a 2011 election by a landslide to become Thailand's first female prime minister, called on the protesters to clear the streets and enter into talks to avoid confrontation, saying Thailand's economy was at risk after demonstrators occupied the Finance Ministry on Monday.
By Joe Bavier ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Central African Republic needs up to four times more peacekeepers than are currently deployed to quell the worsening sectarian conflict and provide security for aid workers, the European Union's top humanitarian official said. The country has descended into chaos since the Seleka coalition of rebels, many of them from neighbouring Chad and Sudan, ousted President Francois Bozize in March. France is preparing to boost its force in its anarchic former colony to at least 1,000 soldiers once a U.N. resolution is passed next week to improve security until a 3,600-strong African Union force is operational. Tripling or quadrupling what is there," EU aid chief Kristalina Georgieva said, warning they face a twin risk of a Somalia-like state collapse and potential genocide.
Ross Brawn will step down from his position as Mercedes team principal at the end of the year, the German Formula One outfit confirmed on Thursday, ending months of speculation. The 59-year-old is one of the longest-serving figures in modern Formula One but it remains unclear whether he will retire from the sport or join another stable such as Ferrari in 2014 or McLaren-Honda in 2015. The English engineer largely contributed to the seven world titles won by Germany's Michael Schumacher at Benetton and then Ferrari. He then joined Honda F1 as team principal in 2007, buying out the team and renaming it Brawn GP, going on to win the world constructors' championship and drivers' title double in 2009 with Jenson Button.