PAKISTAN

Quake sends residents fleeing

A strong earthquake shook parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan early Saturday, rattling buildings and forcing sleeping residents out of their homes.

More than 30 people were injured as houses or walls collapsed in the northwestern Pakistan city of Peshawar, said emergency rescue service spokesman Bilal Ahmed Faizi. A total of 41 people were taken to hospitals in the city, according to doctors and rescue officials.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported the quake measured at magnitude 6.2 and was centered in the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan. - AP
BRITAIN

Queen delivers Christmas speech

Queen Elizabeth II used her Christmas message Friday to proclaim that light can triumph over darkness in these perilous times.

Elizabeth, who this year became Britain's longest-reigning monarch, acknowledged the world's difficult times but said there is no cause for despair. The queen's speech has been a tradition since she first delivered a Christmas message live on radio in 1952.

"It is true that the world has had to confront moments of darkness this year, but the Gospel of John contains a verse of great hope, often read at Christmas carol services: 'The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.' "

She spoke in a prerecorded message from the 18th Century Room at Buckingham Palace. - AP
SOUTH SUDAN

President makes 28 states from 10

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir made a Christmas Eve decree dissolving the nation's 10 states and creating 28 new ones, a move which critics say threatens the peace deal signed in August to end the country's two-year civil war.

The announcement in a late-night broadcast by the state-run South Sudan Television said seven of the 10 previous governors have been reappointed along with 21 others to run the new administrative zones.

Kiir's move comes after 150 rebels returned to the capital, Juba, on Monday to implement a peace deal signed by Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar. That deal rests on power-sharing in the original 10 states between Kiir and Machar's sides, as well as other political groups.

The rebel leadership is consulting on reaction to the president's move, Machar's spokesman James Gatdet Dak said. - AP
SPAIN

2 die in bid to reach enclave

Two people drowned and 12 others were injured when they tried to get to a small patch of Spanish territory in North Africa by swimming from Morocco and scaling a barbed-wire fence that juts into the sea, Spanish and Moroccan news agencies reported Friday.

The dead and hurt were among more than 200 people trying to reach the enclave of Ceuta, which borders Morocco and is across the Strait of Gibraltar from mainland Spain. - AP