Buildings and trees are damaged after Cyclone Winston swept through the town of Ba on Fiji's Viti Levu Island, Feb. 21, 2016. (Stringer/via Reuters)
IRAQ
ISIS snipers try to pin down Fallujah

The Islamic State deployed snipers on rooftops in Fallujah on Saturday in an attempt to quell an insurrection by Sunni tribesmen, Iraqi officials said, a flare-up that appears to reflect a weakening grip on the city.

The fighting, which began Thursday in the city about 45 miles west of Baghdad, is a small but rare show of force against the Islamic State, which has controlled Fallujah for more than two years. The Islamist group’s hold on Anbar province has been weakened with Iraqi forces retaking the provincial capital of Ramadi, leaving Fallujah isolated and besieged.

Local officials say the insurrection should quickly lead to a reconsideration of military plans to take advantage of the unrest in Fallujah.

Some tribal fighters are pinned down by the snipers in the Jolan neighborhood, said Sheikh Majeed al-Juraisi, a tribal leader. “Time is running out very quickly, and if there is no intervention by the government or the Americans, then there will be a massacre,” he said.

Loveday Morris

INDIA
Army tries to quell violent protests

Hundreds of army and paramilitary soldiers on Saturday tried to quell protests by angry mobs demanding government benefits in a northern Indian state, with at least four people killed in clashes between security forces and protesters, officials said.

The violence raged for a second straight day, as protesters burned several railroad stations and attacked shops and vehicles in several towns in Haryana state, said police officer Y.P. Singhal.

Protesters also blocked highways linking New Delhi to key northern cities, he said, adding that authorities ordered police to fire without warning at those instigating violence.

The protesters are members of the lower-caste Jat agricultural community, who are demanding benefits both at the federal and state levels, including guaranteed government jobs or university spots. Talks Friday between community leaders and state government representatives failed to lead to an agreement.

— Associated Press

GREECE
Anti-austerity bill passes parliament

Greece’s parliament on Saturday approved a bill providing health insurance to vulnerable citizens and offering municipality jobs for the unemployed as the left-led government tries to mitigate the impact of bailout austerity measures on the poor.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who made a U-turn on promises to end austerity and was forced to sign up to a new bailout last summer, was reelected in September on pledges to implement the EU/IMF prescribed reforms.

The package of social justice measures is meant to appease critics who say the reforms parliament was forced to adopt under Greece’s third bailout program are too tough.

Thousands of Greeks took to the streets in February to protest a planned pension reform that increases social security contributions and phases out benefits for low-income pensioners.

— Reuters

Former prime minister wins Central African presidency: A former prime minister who placed second in the first round of balloting has won Central African Republic’s presidential runoff vote, the national election body announced Saturday. Faustin Archange Touadera, 58, inherits the enormous task of trying to restore order in a country where heavily armed rebel groups still control large swaths of territory.

Fiji residents assess damage in Pacific cyclone’s wake: Residents of Fiji were beginning to clean up and assess the damage after Tropical Cyclone Winston, packing 177 mph winds, tore through the Pacific island chain overnight. At least one person died, although aid workers said it would take at least a day to establish communications with some of the smaller islands that were directly in Cyclone Winston’s path. There were widespread reports of damage, with many homes and crops destroyed.

Leftist priest who defied pope dies in Nicaragua: Fernando Cardenal, a priest who famously rebuffed an order by Pope John Paul II to quit Nicaragua’s leftist government, has died in Managua. Cardenal was 82 and long back in the good graces of the church at the time of his death. The Jesuit was a practitioner of liberation theology who joined the Sandinista rebels after they toppled the dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza in 1979. He led a widely praised literacy campaign and then served as education minister.

Last survivor of Nazi’s Treblinka death camp dies: Samuel Willenberg, the last survivor of Treblinka, the Nazi death camp in occupied Poland where 875,000 people were systematically murdered, has died in Israel at the age of 93. Willenberg took up sculpting to describe his experiences, creating statues depicting a father removing his son’s shoes before entering the gas chambers, a young girl having her head shaved and prisoners removing bodies.

— From news services