LUHANSK, Ukraine — Ukraine's Security Service said Wednesday that 56 people held inside the agency's local headquarters in the eastern city of Luhansk by pro-Russian separatists have been allowed to leave. The Luhansk security services building was among several government offices seized by pro-Moscow groups Sunday in an escalation of protests against the interim government in power since the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych in February. By Peter Leonard. SENT: 640 words, photos.


MELILLA, Spain — They perched atop a barbed-wire laced fence for more than seven hours, hands and feet bloodied, buffeted by chill winds whipping the cliffs of Africa's Mediterranean coast. The 27 sub-Saharan African migrants were literally on the edge between Africa's economic misery and the long-dreamt riches of Europe: On one side of the fence was Morocco, on the other the Spanish enclave of Melilla. By Paul Schemm. SENT: 1,120 words, photos.


ROME — Italian authorities say some 4,000 migrants have been rescued at sea in the past 48 hours as the exodus from Libya continues unabated. Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said Wednesday that around 15,000 migrants have been rescued since the start of the year and that there were between 300,000 and 600,000 people in Libya ready to board smuggling boats. SENT: 130 words.


MOSCOW — Russia's security service chief says intelligence agencies in Russia and other countries helped to prevent terrorist attacks on the Winter Games in Sochi. FSB chief Alexander Bortnikov said in comments carried by Russian news agencies on Wednesday that intelligence agencies from the United States, Austria, France, Germany and Georgia had helped Russia to target individuals who were plotting terrorist attacks on the 2014 Winter Games. SENT: 130 words.


LONDON — A solid start to the U.S. quarterly corporate reporting season helped shore up the mood across financial markets on Wednesday, ahead of the minutes to the last policy meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve. One market that bucked the trend, however, was Tokyo's Nikkei 225 stock average, which closed down 2.1 percent at 14,299.69. The dollar was trading at about 102 yen, a drop from about 104 yen a month earlier that, if sustained, could hurt sales and earnings at export-reliant companies. The latest bout of yen strength came after the Bank of Japan failed to announce fresh stimulus measures earlier this week. By Pan Pylas. SENT: 430 words, photos.


BERLIN — German prosecutors have released more than 1,000 artworks found at the Munich apartment of a reclusive collector, after he agreed to cooperate with determining which pieces were seized by the Nazis. Officials seized some 1,400 items, including 1,280 artworks, from Cornelius Gurlitt's apartment in 2012 while investigating a tax case. SENT: 130 words, photos.


BERLIN — The head of a German parliamentary inquiry into surveillance by the U.S. National Security Agency has resigned, citing tensions over whether to seek testimony from NSA leaker Edward Snowden. All four parties in Germany's lower house, the Bundestag, agreed last month to launch the inquiry into the scope of spying on Germans' communications by the U.S. and its allies, including the alleged monitoring of Chancellor Angela Merkel's cellphone. SENT: 140 words.


VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has denounced the "brutal slaying" of an elderly Jesuit priest in Syria and called for an end to the violence. A masked gunman killed the Rev. Francis Van Der Lugt in his monastery on Monday in the besieged Syrian city of Homs. The slaying underscored fears among many of Syria's Christian and Muslim minorities for the fate of their communities as Islamic extremists gain influence among rebels seeking to topple President Bashar Assad. SENT: 130 words.


VIENNA — The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra is the winner of this year's $1 million Birgit Nilsson Prize, officials of the prestigious classical musical award announced Wednesday. It is the first time an orchestra has been chosen since the prize was launched in 2009. Then, the choice fell on opera star Placido Domingo, who was personally picked by Nilsson and honored three years after her death. Conductor Ricardo Muti was picked three years later. By George Jahn.

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HELSINKI — British-American physicist Stuart Parkin has won the 1 million euro ($1.3 million) Millennium Technology Prize for discoveries leading to a thousand-fold increase in digital data storage on magnetic disks. His discoveries enabled cloud services and the online distribution of social networks, music and film. SENT: 140 words.