BELGRADE, Serbia – Serbia’s ruling parties pledged Sunday to support a landmark agreement to normalize relations with former province Kosovo that could end years of tensions and put both states on a path to European Union membership.
Kosovo, considered by nationalists to be the medieval cradle of the Serbian state and religion, declared independence in 2008. Belgrade has pledged never to recognize the secession.
The EU brokered the tentative deal in Brussels on Friday in talks with the prime ministers of Serbia and Kosovo. The agreement would give Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian leadership authority over rebel Kosovo Serbs. In return, the minority Serbs would get wide autonomy within Kosovo.
During an urgent session that started late Sunday, Kosovo’s parliament voted in favor of a resolution to support the initial agreement.
The 120-seat legislature voted 89-5 early Monday to back the conclusions in the EU-brokered deal.
Nigeria army fights Islamists; 185 dead
Fighting between Nigeria’s military and Islamic extremists killed at least 185 people in a fishing community in the nation’s far northeast, officials said Sunday, an attack that saw insurgents fire rocket-propelled grenades and soldiers spray machine-gun fire into neighborhoods filled with civilians.
The fighting in Baga began Friday and lasted for hours, sending people fleeing into the arid scrublands surrounding the community on Lake Chad. By Sunday, when government officials finally felt safe enough to see the destruction, homes, businesses and vehicles were burned throughout the area.
Bomb kills 6 officers in Afghanistan
Insurgents killed six police officers at a checkpoint and a suicide bomber killed three civilians at a shopping bazaar in separate attacks Sunday in eastern Afghanistan, while an independent security group warned 2013 is on track to be one of the most violent years of the war.
April already has been the deadliest month this year for security forces and Afghan and foreign civilians as the U.S. and other countries prepare to end their combat mission by the end of next year. According to an Associated Press tally, 222 people have been killed in violence around the nation this month, including Sunday’s nine fatalities.
In other violence, the Taliban cut a hand and foot off each of two villagers they accused of helping escort coalition convoys, a spokesman for the provincial chief in western Herat province said.
Indian girl healing after rape ordeal
The condition of a 5-year-old girl in India who was raped, tortured and then left alone in a locked room for two days has improved, a doctor said.
The girl was in critical condition when she was transferred Thursday from a local hospital to the largest government-run hospital in the country. But D.K. Sharma, medical superintendent of the state-run hospital in New Delhi where the girl was being treated, said Sunday that she was responding well to treatment.
A 24-year-old man was arrested Saturday in the eastern state of Bihar, about 620 miles from New Delhi. After being flown to New Delhi, he was in custody Sunday and was being questioned, police said.
For the second consecutive day, hundreds of people protested Sunday outside police headquarters in the capital, angry over allegations that police had ignored complaints by the girl’s parents that she was missing.
Earthquake shakes buildings in Mexico
A 5.9-magnitude earthquake struck in the Mexican state of Michoacan on Sunday night, causing buildings to sway 200 miles away in Mexico City.
Some people evacuated buildings in the capital, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries. State officials in Michoacan also said they had no reports of casualties or damage.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake’s epicenter was about 23 miles northeast of the Pacific port of Lazaro Cardenas. That is about 202 miles west-southwest of Mexico City.
Paraguay elects new president
Paraguayans elected a tobacco magnate as their new leader Sunday, returning the conservative Colorado Party to the presidency that it held for 61 years before former Roman Catholic bishop Fernando Lugo won the office in 2008.
Horacio Cartes won a five-year term with 46 percent of the vote over 37 percent for Efrain Alegre of the Radical Liberal party, the Electoral Court announced after most votes were counted. Five other candidates trailed far behind.
The president-elect owns controlling shares in banks, investment funds, agricultural estates, a soda-maker and tobacco plantations. The United Nations estimates more than half of Paraguayans live in poverty.