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At least 84 people have died and entire towns have been wiped out in the worst wildfires in Australian history, authorities said. Arson is suspected as the cause of at least some of the blazes roaring through Victoria State. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd put the Army on standby and announced $6.7 million in aid to help rebuild destroyed homes and businesses.

NATO's senior commander said "activities and actions" against the booming drug trade in Afghanistan will begin "in the next several days." At a security conference in Munich, Germany, Gen. John Craddock offered no specifics but said "we've got to get started" against traffickers and laboratories that support a resurgent Taliban to the tune of an estimated $100 million a year. The offensive was authorized late last year, although not without questions about the will of NATO forces to carry it out.

Tension was thick in Madagas-car's capital Sunday after police fired into a crowd protesting the dismissal of Mayor and opposition leader Andry Rajoelina. At least 25 demonstrators were killed; as many as 167 others were wounded Saturday. Rajoelina, who has proclaimed himself the nation's new chief executive, vowed to keep his supporters on the streets until "the final victory" over President Marc Ravalomanana. Ravalomanana blamed his opponents for the violence, calling it "intolerable" and extending a nighttime curfew for another week.

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Tribal elders are expected to guarantee the good behavior of 170 men released from prison in Yemen despite having suspected ties to Al Qaeda, reports said Sunday. Last month, the terrorist group said Yemen now is its base of operation for the entire Arabian peninsula.

New President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed was greeted by mortar rounds as he returned to Somalia's capital Saturday, and additional violence in Mogadishu killed at least three civilians Sunday. Both incidents were blamed on Islamist militias. Sheikh Sharif, who was elected Jan. 31, has pledged to form an inclusive government, extending a hand to the Islamists. But he also has appealed for foreign help to curb what he called "extremists" opposed to peace.

Thousands of civilians streamed to safety out of Sri Lanka's war zone over the weekend as government forces applied heavy pressure in their bid to deal the final blow to the remaining Tamil separatist rebels. Unconfirmed reports said military manpower now outnumbers the rebels there by about 50,000 to no more than 2,000.

Pope Benedict XVI sought to intervene in a medical drama that has gripped Italy and evoked memories of the 2005 Terry Schiavo case in the US. Demonstrations for and against removing Eluana Englaro from her life-support system were held across the country over the weekend. The pope did not mention her by name but said euthanasia is a "false solution" not worthy of humans. Although euthanasia is illegal there, the Supreme Court has endorsed her family's request to disconnect the feeding tube that has kept her alive since a 1992 car crash. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi issued a decree that would keep the tube in place, but President Giorgio Napolitano has refused to sign it.

All but four of 26 people aboard an air taxi died when its pilot failed to pull off an emergency landing in bad weather in northwestern Brazil, reports said Sunday. The plane was carrying guests to a family celebration when it plunged into a river about a quarter-mile from a small regional airport in the Amazon rainforest.

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