In brief: Muslim-Christian clashes kill five
CAIRO, Egypt – Christians and Muslims fought in the streets of western Cairo on Saturday in violence triggered by word of a mixed romance, Egypt’s official news agency reported. At least five people were killed.
The clashes marked an escalation in tension between Egypt’s Muslims and its Coptic Christian minority that has coincided with uncertainty in the country after President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster in February.
The news agency said the violence Saturday broke out in the Imbaba neighborhood after word spread that a Christian woman had married a Muslim and was being held in a church against her will.
Hundreds of Muslims converged on the church to demand the woman be released, witnesses said. Copts stood outside the church protecting it. The witnesses said gunfire was exchanged in the melee.
Mediation offered in border dispute
JAKARTA, Indonesia – Southeast Asian leaders sought to help Thailand and Cambodia end deadly clashes along their disputed border.
The two sides agreed Saturday to hold talks today as part of efforts to hammer out a lasting cease-fire. But with acrimony high, it was unclear just how much can be accomplished.
Other topics on the agenda of the two-day Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, summit included Myanmar’s bid to take over the rotating chair of the 10-member regional grouping, spiraling food and energy prices, and security in the South China Sea.
The summit that wraps up today is supposed to focus on steps needed to create an integrated regional economic zone by 2015. But Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said in his opening statement Saturday that little can be done without peace and stability among member countries.
To that end, he will chair a meeting between the Cambodian and Thai prime ministers to try to end repeated outbreaks of fighting that have claimed nearly 20 lives in the last two weeks and sent 100,000 people fleeing from their homes.
Elections solidify power sharing
BELFAST, Northern Ireland – Northern Ireland’s two major parties will return to power atop a joint Catholic-Protestant government with increased support for their policies of compromise and peacemaking, electoral returns Saturday showed.
The British Protestants of the Democratic Unionists and the Irish Catholics of Sinn Fein – bitter enemies for decades but, since 2007, partners in government – strengthened their hold on the Northern Ireland Assembly, the bedrock of the province’s government.
The Democratic Unionists won 38 seats in Thursday’s election, two more than in the last election four years ago. Sinn Fein won 29, up one. The result reinforced their status as the largest parties in the 108-member assembly and the co-leaders of government.
The outcome means Democratic Unionist leader Peter Robinson stays in the government’s top post of first minister.
Robinson, whose party once campaigned on pledges to “smash Sinn Fein,” said their unlikely partnership in a time of peace was exactly what Northern Ireland’s 1.7 million citizens crave.