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Briefly: Pope says trip to Beirut is peace pilgrimage

- - Sunday, September 9, 2012

ITALY

CASTEL GANDOLFO — Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday characterized his trip to Beirut later this week as a pilgrimage for peace for the entire Middle East region and its anguished people.

Benedict told pilgrims at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo near Rome that, while finding solutions for the Middle East's problems seems difficult, people "shouldn't resign themselves to violence or worsening tensions."

He noted that during his three-day visit to the Lebanese capital, which begins Friday, he would meet with Lebanese authorities as well as Christians from Lebanon and other nearby countries.

"I am not unaware of the often-dramatic situation endured by the populations of this region which has been for too long torn by incessant conflict," Benedict said. "I understand the anguish of many Middle Easterners steeped daily in sufferings of every kind, which afflict sadly, and sometimes mortally, their personal and family life."

The pope urged the international community to support efforts at dialogue and reconciliation, as he stressed "the importance for the whole world of a stable and lasting peace in the entire region."

RUSSIAN

Opposition activist to run in mayoral race

MOSCOW — A prominent activist says she has been approved to run for mayor of a Moscow suburb in a vote considered key for the Russian opposition.

Yevgeniya Chirikova gained fame several years ago by leading a campaign to save a forest in the Moscow suburb of Khimki, a movement that in 2010 prompted the largest opposition rally in a decade and has helped save parts of the threatened forest.

The Khimki election is seen as a litmus test for opposition activists' electability. It also could test the tolerance for dissent in President Vladimir Putin's government.

Russian election officials have barred many opposition candidates from running, finding fault with small details in their bids.

Ms. Chirikova and her campaign chief, Nikolai Lyaskin, wrote Sunday on Twitter that her candidacy was approved.

GERMANY

Kurdish festival marred by clashes with police

BERLIN — Clashes at a Kurdish cultural festival in southwestern Germany left 80 officers injured, police said. Thirty-one people were detained.

Police in the city of Mannheim said officers were pelted with stones, bottles of water and other objects Saturday afternoon after a security firm employed by organizers called them in to help deal with an argument over a teenager who had tried to get into the event with a banned flag. Officers used pepper spray.

The clashes lasted for about two hours. Police said 13 vehicles were damaged by stones, bricks and other projectiles.

One officer suffered rib injuries, and another 79 were lightly injured.

About 40,000 people were at the festival.

GREAT BRITAIN

Search ongoing at home of couple slain in Alps

LONDON — Police were searching for a second day the U.K. home of a British-Iraqi couple killed along with two other people while vacationing in the French Alps.

The search of Saad and Iqbal al Hilli's home in the village of Claygate, a London suburb, is part of a French-led investigation into the case.

The couple and the two other people were each shot twice in the head. The couple's two young daughters survived, with one in a medically induced coma for her wounds.

Police on Sunday continued their examination of the house in Claygate, with Surrey police confirming two firearms officers visited the scene.

French investigators also are in Britain for what prosecutors have warned will be a long and complex probe about who carried out the killings and why.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports