World briefs: Police, students clash in Egypt

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CAIRO -- Egyptian anti-riot police fired tear gas Sunday at hundreds of supporters of the country's ousted Islamist president, besieging them inside a prestigious Muslim institution after stone-hurling protesters cut off a main road.

The clashes marked the second day of unrest at Al-Azhar University, Sunni Islam's most prominent center of learning. Many supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood are students at Al-Azhar, a stronghold of the group.

The protest started with a march inside campus, where protesters hurled stones at the administrator's offices, said Ibrahim el-Houdhoud, deputy head of the university. He told satellite news channel Al-Jazeera Mubashir Misr that he warned protesters against leaving campus and clashing with security forces.

The protesters however ignored the advice, marching out of the main gates to hold "prayers for the dead" -- honoring students killed in earlier clashes between security forces and protesters in July.

Luxembourg stays course

LUXEMBOURG -- The Christian Democrat party of long-serving Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker easily remained the biggest party and the first choice to form a new coalition government following Sunday's elections.

With near complete results, Mr. Juncker's CSV will drop almost 4.5 points from the 38 percent of the 2009 elections, but remains well ahead of both Socialist coalition partner LSAP, which hovered just over 20 percent and the opposition Liberal DP, which made a big move up to 18.5 percent.

"I am satisfied with the results as far as my party remains the No. 1 party in Luxembourg, with a huge distance between my party and the two other main political parties," Mr. Juncker said. "We should be entitled to form the next government."

Australian wildfire rages

CANBERRA, Australia -- Australia's most populous state declared a wildfire emergency as temperatures are predicted to rise and winds strengthen, fanning flames across New South Wales that have destroyed more than 200 properties.

State Premier Barry O'Farrell signed the order late yesterday after consulting with the police minister, and appointed the Rural Fire Service commissioner to control and coordinate the emergency declaration.

Firefighters battling 56 blazes, including 12 that are uncontained, are bracing for renewed wild weather across the state.

Conditions will be at their worst on Wednesday and two of the three main fires in the Blue Mountains have the potential to merge, RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons told reporters Sunday.

German coalition talks

BERLIN -- Germany's Social Democrats have approved formal coalition talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives in order to form a new government. The negotiations between the country's two biggest parties will begin on Wednesday.

Ms. Merkel's conservatives won a Sept. 22 parliamentary election, but their last coalition partner, the Free Democrats, lost all seats. Short of an absolute majority, Ms. Merkel's party reached out to its traditional center-left rivals for a new partner.

The German news agency dpa said the Social Democrats approved coalition talks at a party convention in Berlin on Sunday, but said its conditions include a demand for the country's first mandatory minimum wage -- something many conservatives oppose.


First Published October 20, 2013 8:00 PM


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