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World news briefs — Compiled Oct. 18

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AUSTRALIA

More wildfire destruction

The destruction toll continued to rise today from some of the most costly wildfires to ever strike Australia’s most populous state as firefighters prepared for worsening conditions. In the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, one of the worst hit regions in fire-ravaged New South Wales state, 193 homes have been destroyed and another 109 damaged by the fire storm that peaked Thursday, the Rural Fire Service announced today.

LEBANON

Shiite pilgrims freed

Nine Shiite pilgrims from Lebanon kidnapped in Syria were freed late Friday night as part of a negotiated hostage deal that could see two Turkish pilots held by Lebanese militants released, officials said. The complicated three-way deal also potentially includes the release of female prisoners now held by the embattled government of Syrian President Bashar Assad. The pilgrims were part of a group of 11 hostages taken by a rebel faction in northern Syria in May 2012.

ENGLAND

Redheads attacked

British police say they were called after a string of attacks on red-haired pupils at a school in northern England. South Yorkshire Police said in a statement Friday the force had been alerted to last week’s assaults at Wingfield Academy in the town of Rotherham, about 160 miles north of London. It said a small number of pupils had sustained minor injuries after being attacked by fellow students. No arrests were made, but police said they had given some of the students involved a talking to, while the school said it condemned the attacks.

MEXICO

Tax on unhealthy food

It may soon cost more to get fat in Mexico. New taxes on high-calorie foods and sugary drinks were approved by Mexico’s lower house of Congress in a marathon 18-hour session that ended Friday, and are likely to become law. They are part of a broader package of taxes and other fiscal changes proposed by President Enrique Pena Nieto aimed at generating nearly $20 billion for the national treasury.

Compiled from wire reports.


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