World briefs: Czech voters end status quo

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PRAGUE, Czech Republic -- The center-left Social Democrats won the most votes in Czech parliamentary elections Saturday, but fell short of winning a majority in a vote that underlined voters' deep dissatisfaction with endemic corruption and the political status quo.

The country will now enter what is likely to be a lengthy period of dealmaking as parties scramble to form a coalition government.

With nearly all the votes counted, the Social Democrats won 20.5 percent of the vote, a far slimmer victory than expected. Instead, voters turned to protest parties vowing to eliminate corruption, handing 18.7 percent of the vote to the party of Andrej Babis, a Slovak billionaire with a Czech passport. The Communist Party, the last such party in the former satellite countries of the old Soviet bloc, finished third with about 15 percent.

The center-right government at the center of a bribery scandal was trounced, receiving only 7.7 percent of the vote.

Congo's army scores victory

GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo -- Rocket after rocket ripped across the sky. By Saturday evening, after two consecutive days of pitched battle, with artillery, tanks and mortars, the Congolese army had driven the M23 rebels out of the strategic town of Kibumba.

The battle was a dramatic turnaround from barely a year ago, when the rebels had the upper hand. Ill-disciplined, corrupt and often drunk, the Congolese soldiers were only somewhat more popular than the mutineer rebels who had taken up arms against them.

Large oil field discovered

ALGIERS, Algeria -- A new oil field containing an estimated 1.3 billion barrels has been discovered, Algeria's energy minister, Youcef Yousfi, told the state news agency Saturday.

He said the discovery near the large oil fields in the southern region of Hassi Messaoud is one of the most important in the last 20 years. He added that the state oil company, Sonatrach, will rely on unconventional techniques to extract 50 percent of the reserves, including hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking.

Suicide-bombing claim

CAIRO -- An ex-Egyptian army officer carried out the suicide bombing last month that unsuccessfully targeted the country's interior minister, a video posted online Saturday by al-Qaida-inspired militants claims.

The failed car bomb assassination and increasing attacks in the country's lawless Sinai Peninsula raise fears of an escalating Islamic militant campaign of revenge over the July 3 military coup that ousted Egypt's first democratically elected president and his Muslim Brotherhood-led government.

UAE boosts Egypt aid

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates -- The United Arab Emirates announced Saturday it will boost its aid pledges to Egypt's military-backed government, now making it a total of $4.9 billion.

The deal signed Saturday for $1.9 billion in new loans, fuel supplies and other assistance came during a visit by Egyptian interim Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi.

Also in the world ...

Authorities in Muslim-majority Malaysia banned a planned Saturday concert at a Kuala Lumpur stadium by U.S. pop singer Ke$ha after deciding it would hurt cultural and religious sensitivities. ... Thousands of people marched Saturday in Lisbon, Portugal, to protest the austerity measures the government has been compelled to adopt in return for a $105.6 billion bailout reached in 2011.


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