PAKISTAN

Troops battle Taliban along border

Taliban fighters attacked several Pakistani military posts along the Afghan border Saturday, sparking an hours-long gun battle that included Pakistan launching airstrikes into Afghanistan, authorities said. Pakistan said soldiers killed 16 militants, while Afghan officials said the airstrikes killed five civilians. The fighting was the latest cross-border attack along the volatile and porous Pakistan-Afghanistan boundary and again tests the two countries’ already uneasy relations.

BAHRAIN

Opposition to boycott election

Bahrain’s top Shiite opposition parties said Saturday that they will boycott parliamentary and municipal elections slated for October. The group of four, known as the National Democratic Opposition Parties in Bahrain, told a news conference that they are not taking part in elections until a political agreement that reflects the will of the people is reached. They said the agreement must “realize the principles of a democratic system of governance, where the people are the source of all authorities.” Daily protests since have roiled the tiny island-nation. Protesters are demanding a greater political voice and equal rights.

TUNISIA

Meeting on Libya crisis scratched

Tunisia has abruptly canceled two days of international meetings on its unstable neighbor Libya a day before they were to start, as authorities say the Libyan situation is too murky to make talks worthwhile. Saturday’s announcement came just ahead of the meetings today and Monday set to bring together ministers from five North African countries, including Libya. That event was to be followed by a meeting of special envoys to Libya from the United Nations, the European Union, the U.S., France and other nations. Foreign Ministry spokesman Mokhtar Chaouachi said that “there are no clear interlocutors with the presence of two governments in Libya.”

EGYPT

Flag, anthem disrespect outlawed

Egypt’s outgoing interim president issued a decree making dishonoring the Egyptian flag or not standing for the national anthem a criminal offense, punishable by sentences of up to one year in prison and a fine of more than $4,000, his spokesman said Saturday. Presidential spokesman Ihab Badawi told reporters the decree states that the national anthem and flag are “symbols of the state that must be respected and treated with veneration.” Egypt is witnessing a rising wave of nationalist fervor following the July military overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi after mass protests against him.

MALAWI

Leader takes oath after marred vote

Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika was sworn into office Saturday at a brief ceremony in Blantyre, the country’s commercial center. A larger inauguration is scheduled for Monday. Mutharika was declared the winner of the election earlier Saturday by the national election commission. The election was marred by scattered unrest and complaints from the former president and others that the vote was rigged.

CYPRUS

Thousands attend first pride parade

Several thousand people turned out for Cyprus’ first gay pride parade on Saturday, exceeding the expectations of organizers who said the event’s popularity shows that Cypriots are shedding their conservative attitudes. A small group of Orthodox Christian protesters, some holding crosses, staged a demonstration nearby to denounce the event they called “shameful.”

Compiled from wire reports.