World briefs: Turkey wary of protests

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ISTANBUL -- Turkish authorities shut down transportation and thousands of police descended on Istanbul's central square Saturday in a show of force by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the anniversary of the Gezi Park protests.

Mr. Erdogan is seeking to prevent a repeat of last year's events, which spiraled from an environmental sit-in into more than two weeks of nationwide anti-government demonstrations that sent millions into the streets and markets tumbling. Mr. Erdogan says those demonstrating against him in his 12th year in office aren't sincere and won't be allowed to gather in public spaces.

Unity alliance pushed

RAMALLAH, West Bank -- The formation of a Palestinian unity government backed by rivals Hamas and Fatah will be announced Monday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday, adding that Israel already warned him it would take punitive steps against the new alliance.

The formation of the government would be the most significant step yet toward ending a crippling 7-year-old Palestinian political split. However, it is also bound to increase friction between Mr. Abbas and Israel's hard-line government.

Mr. Abbas said Saturday that he would respond to any Israeli punitive measures, such as withholding the monthly transfer of some $100 million in taxes and customs Israel collects on behalf of his Palestinian Authority. The funds are vital to keeping the self-rule government afloat.

Fighting on Afghan border

ISLAMABAD -- Taliban fighters attacked several Pakistani military posts along the Afghan border Saturday, sparking an hourslong gun battle that included Pakistan launching airstrikes into Afghanistan, authorities said.

Pakistan said soldiers killed 16 militants, while Afghan officials said the airstrikes killed five civilians.

The fighting was the latest cross-border attack along the volatile and porous Pakistan-Afghanistan boundary and again tests the two countries' already uneasy relations.

3rd suspect held in rape

LUCKNOW, India -- Police arrested a third suspect Saturday in the gang rape and slaying of two teenage cousins found hanging from a tree in northern India in a case that has triggered national outrage.

The three suspects detained in the attack in Uttar Pradesh state are cousins in their 20s from an extended family, and they face murder and rape charges, crimes punishable by the death penalty, said police officer N. Malik. Two other suspects from the same village are also being sought, he said.

Malawi declares winner

LILONGWE, Malawi -- Peter Mutharika of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party was named the winner Saturday of Malawi's disputed May 20 presidential elections amid allegations of vote rigging and fraud by his rivals.

Mr. Mutharika polled 36 percent, Lazarus Chakwera of the Malawi Congress Party got 28 percent and incumbent President Joyce Banda had 20 percent, according to results released late Friday by the Malawi Electoral Commission. The Congress Party doesn't recognize the results and will challenge them, Jesse Kabwila, a spokesman, told reporters. Mr. Mutharika was sworn in Saturday, the BBC reported.

Thai oil tanker missing

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- A Thai oil tanker carrying diesel fuel went missing after it departed from Singapore on its way to Indonesia, an international anti-piracy watch group reported Saturday.

The MT Orapin 4, with 14 crew aboard, lost contact with its owner after leaving port Tuesday en route to Indonesia's Kalimantan province, the Kuala Lumpur-based International Maritime Bureau said.


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