AFGHANISTAN: 14 killed in bombing

Every day across Afghanistan, rural people crowd aboard rickety communal taxis that ply the roads linking remote towns and villages. And every day, they run the risk of what happened Thursday morning in Helmand province. A roadside bomb ripped through a minibus in the Nahr-e-Saraj district in central Helmand, incinerating the vehicle and killing 14 people, including men, women and children. This has been the war's deadliest year for noncombatants and combatants alike, with civilian casualties for the first 10 months of this year running 20 percent higher than the same period a year ago, according to the most recent figures available from the United Nations. Insurgents are blamed for about three-quarters of civilian deaths, but Western troops inadvertently cause some as well.

BOLIVIA: Rally against fuel-price hike

Protests intensified in Bolivia Thursday against a sharp increase in fuel prices imposed by President Evo Morales' government. Thousands of demonstrators marched in La Paz and other cities, calling for the price hikes to be repealed. Some demanded Morales' resignation. The higher prices were announced suddenly on Sunday, and it has been the most unpopular measure of Morales' five-year presidency. It led to an immediate 73 percent jump in gasoline prices and an 83 percent rise in prices for diesel - and also prompted rapid increases in transport and food prices in the Andean country.

AUSTRALIA: Flooding is relentless

More than 200,000 people have been affected by relentless flooding in northeast Australia, with the flood zone now stretching over an area bigger than France and Germany combined, officials said Friday. Thousands of homes and businesses across Queensland state have been inundated with water after days of pounding rain caused swollen rivers to overflow. The entire population of two towns was forced to evacuate as water swamped their communities, cutting off roads and devastating crops.

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