World briefs: Middle East fighting ebbs

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JERUSALEM — Cross-border hostilities between Gaza and Israel continued Saturday, a day after a temporary cease-fire expired. But the simmering exchanges were on a lower scale than the fighting that has raged for most of the past month, as Egyptian-brokered efforts continued for a new cease-fire and a resumption of talks on a more durable end to the conflict.

Eight Palestinians were reported killed in Israeli airstrikes, and Palestinian militants fired more rockets into Israel. No new Israeli casualties were reported.

Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza and is leading the Palestinian fighting, had refused to extend the 72-hour cease-fire that expired at 8 a.m. Friday and immediately fired salvos of rockets into Israel. The group was frustrated with what Palestinian officials said was a failure by Egypt and Israel to address Hamas’ demands for a full lifting of the blockade on Gaza and the construction of a seaport.

Islamist party banned

CAIRO — An Egyptian court on Saturday dissolved the Freedom and Justice Party, the political wing of the banned Muslim Brotherhood, dealing a crippling blow in the campaign to crush Egypt's oldest Islamist movement.

A court banned the Muslim Brotherhood itself in September, but that ruling did not mention its political wing, leaving open the possibility it could be allowed to run in parliamentary elections, due later this year.

2 die in protest clashes

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Violent clashes between the police and opponents of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif swept across Pakistan’s Punjab province Saturday, leaving at least two people dead and several hundred injured as Mr. Sharif’s 14-month-old government sought to forestall a series of planned street protests aimed at ousting it.

For the second consecutive day, the Pakistani police confronted supporters of Tahir-ul-Qadri, a firebrand preacher who has vowed to topple Mr. Sharif through a “peaceful revolution.” The cleric’s supporters — some of them armed with staves, others wearing gas masks — overturned police barricades and engaged in street battles in towns across Punjab, Mr. Sharif’s political power base.

One of Mr. Qadri’s supporters died during clashes in Bhakkar and one officer died in Sargodha, while 130 people were injured and 22 officers were taken hostage, the police said in a statement.

Kerry targets sea tiffs

NAYPYITAW, Myanmar — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday urged China and its neighbors to take new steps to ease tensions over maritime disputes that many fear could spark conflict.

Under the proposal he presented, China and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations that have competing claims to territory in the South China Sea would voluntarily halt provocative actions.

Protest aims at Ebola

MONROVA, Liberia — Riot police raced to quell a demonstration blocking Liberia’s busiest highway Saturday as an angry crowd protested the government’s delays in collecting the bodies of Ebola victims.

In Guinea, where the deadly Ebola outbreak emerged in March, health officials announced Saturday that the country was closing its land borders with Liberia and Sierra Leone — two of the countries where the killer virus has now spread and where deaths are mounting.

The World Health Organization declared the Ebola outbreak an international health emergency Friday.

— Compiled by news services

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