Iraq

Gov’t starts exhuming mass grave in Sinjar

ERBIL — The Iraqi government has started exhuming a mass grave left behind by the Islamic State group in the northwestern Sinjar region in the presence of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nadia Murad, whose slain relatives are believed to have been buried in the area.

The exhumation, which is being carried out with U.N. support, began Friday in the village of Kocho. Murad’s official website said it marks the first exhumation of a mass grave containing the remains of Yazidis, a religious minority targeted for extermination by the extremists.

IS militants rampaged across Sinjar in 2014, killing Yazidi men and abducting thousands of women and children. Many followers of the minority faith are still missing, after women were forced into sexual slavery and boys were indoctrinated in jihadi ideology.

China

Landslide knocks over homes, killing seven

BEIJING — Hundreds of police, firefighters and medical personnel joined rescue efforts on Saturday after a landslide in northern China knocked down several buildings, killing seven people and leaving 13 others missing.

The landslide hit Xiangning county in Shanxi province early Friday evening, provincial authorities said. Two residential buildings, home to a total of 14 households, and a public bathhouse collapsed under the weight of the falling earth.

State television CCTV said seven people were confirmed dead as of Saturday afternoon. It said 20 others had been rescued from the debris and 13 remained missing.

France

Major fires mar 18th weekend of protests

PARIS — French yellow-vest protesters set life-threatening fires, smashed up luxury stores in Paris and clashed with police Saturday in the 18th straight weekend of demonstrations against President Emmanuel Macron. Large plumes of smoke rose above the rioting on Paris’ landmark Champs-Elysees avenue, and a mother and her child were just barely saved from a building blaze.

Cobblestones flew in the air, and smoke from fires set by protesters mingled with clouds of tear gas sprayed by police, as tensions continued for hours along the Champs-Elysees. By dusk, as the demonstrators had dispersed, the famed avenue was a blackened expanse.

The violence comes at a watershed moment for a movement, which had been fizzling in recent weeks, and at the end of a two-month-long national debate called by Macron that protesters say failed to answer their demands for economic justice.

Police appeared to be caught off guard by the speed and severity of Saturday’s unrest.

Venezuela

Guaido, Maduro hold competing rallies

VALENCIA — Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido embarked on a new stage of his campaign to oust President Nicolas Maduro on Saturday as the rivals held competing rallies in the capital of Caracas, a pattern which has unfolded repeatedly as both sides attempt to convey strength.

Addressing large crowds in the northern city of Valencia, Guaido pledged to deliver a better life for struggling Venezuelans as he began a planned tour of the country gripped by an economic and political crisis.

“We’re stronger than ever,” said U.S.-backed Guaido from a podium draped with a large Venezuelan flag.

Poland

Ruling chief speaks against LGBT rights

WARSAW — The leader of Poland’s right-wing ruling party used hostile language Saturday while speaking against rights for LGBT persons, a subject that has risen to prominence in his political campaign ahead of crucial elections in Poland this year.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski spoke to Law and Justice party activists and government members at a convention in Katowice, ahead of both the European Parliament election, slated in Poland for May 26, and of Poland’s general election in the fall.

“This is not about tolerance. This is about the affirmation of same-sex unions, about their marriage, and their right to adopt children,” Kaczynski, 69, said emphatically. “We want to say it clearly. We are saying ‘No!,’ especially when it concerns children. Stay away from our children!”

Polish law does not allow same-sex marriages.

Wire reports