France

Nations mark WWI battle

In solemn ceremonies Sunday in the forests of eastern France, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel marked 100 years since the Battle of Verdun, determined to show that, despite the bloodbath of World War I, their countries’ improbable friendship is now a source of hope for today’s fractured Europe. The 10-month battle at Verdun — the longest in World War I — killed 163,000 French and 143,000 German soldiers and wounded hundreds of thousands of others. The battlefield zone still holds millions of unexploded shells, making the area so dangerous that housing and farming are still forbidden. The main ceremony took place at a mass grave.

Yemen

Fighting kills at least 69

At least 69 people have been killed and dozens injured in two days of fighting between rebels and forces loyal to the internationally recognized government, Yemeni security officials said on Sunday. The officials said government-allied forces have taken control of several areas previously controlled by the rebels, known as the Houthis, between the central provinces of Marib and Shabwa. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to brief journalists.

VATICAN CITY

Francis has no plans to quit

Pope Francis says he has no intention of quitting the papacy — a possibility opened up by his predecessor Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI. The pope, responding to a question from a young person at a Vatican event, said on Sunday “I never thought of quitting being pope, or of leaving because of the many responsibilities.” The pope has previously said he envisioned a short papacy before going on “to the Father’s house.” Benedict retired in 2013. The pope spoke at a gathering for the Scholas Occurentes global educational initiative that he launched. George Clooney, accompanied by his wife Amal, and Richard Gere were honored for their contributions.

Mexico

Police seek abducted athlete

Federal and state forces mounted a search Sunday for Mexican soccer star Alan Pulido, who was abducted in the crime-plagued northern border state of Tamaulipas. Pulido is a forward for Olympiakos of Greece and was part of Mexico’s 2014 World Cup team. “We have information that he was intercepted by armed persons and since then his whereabouts are unknown,” said state Attorney General Ismael Quintanilla.

Compiled from wire reports.