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In brief: Fire sweeps through remote refugee camp leaving 21 dead, 100 injured

A fire raged through a refugee camp in north-eastern India, killing 21 and injuring about 100, said officials. Winds whipped the fire into a huge blaze that swept across the Nifingpara camp in Tripura for three hours yesterday before firefighters brought it under control.

Most huts in the remote camp, which lies about 100 miles north-east of Tripura's capital, Agartalawere, were destroyed. The camp was home to some 5,000 families from the minority Bru ethnic group, which in 1997 fled alleged persecution in neighbouring Mizoram state.

Pirates kill nine in wave of bank raids

Gunmen killed up to nine people and stole an undisclosed sum of money in an overnight raid on banks in Cameroon's port town of Douala, a security source and local media said yesterday.

"We suspect pirates came on swift boats, parked the boats somewhere in the creeks and walked to Bonaberi (a district in west Douala) to carry out the attacks," the security source said. Cameroon is one of a number of oil-producing nations in the Gulf of Guinea region that has been plagued by attacks on ships and seaside towns.

Hamas and Israel exchange fire

ISLAMIST militants in Gaza fired more than 50 mortars into Israel yesterday, lightly injuring two people in what was the heaviest barrage in two years. A Hamas official was killed and four civilians were wounded when Israel hit back with tank fire and air strikes.

Islamist Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, claimed responsibility for firing 10 of Saturday's mortars, an unusual move after a long period in which it had let other smaller militant groups do its bidding.

Egyptians exuberant over elections

Millions of Egyptians voted freely this weekend for the first time in more than half a century, joyfully waiting for hours to cast their ballots on a package of constitutional changes eliminating much-hated restrictions on political rights and civil liberties.

Young people traded mobile-phone pictures of ink-stained fingers that showed they voted. Others called relatives to boast of casting the first vote of their lives.

However, the first test of Egypt's democratic transition offered ominous hints of widening sectarian division.

Many were drawn to the polls in a massive, last-minute effort by the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group that is Egypt's most coherent political organisation after Mubarak's widely despised National Democratic Party.

Serbian protest pressure mounts

anti-government protesters rallied yesterday in central Serbia to demand the government call early elections over the deep economic crisis. About 7,000 people gathered in the town of Cacak, and organisers say similar protests will be held throughout the Balkan country in coming weeks.

Nationalists want the pro-Western government to hold elections in November, accusing it of corruption and bad economic policies.

Wills sparks Oz honeymoon frenzy

BRITAIN'S Prince William sparked excitement in Australia yesterday when he mentioned returning to the country for his honeymoon while on a visit to Cairns during what some people have dubbed his "disaster tour".

After visiting Christchurch, New Zealand, the prince arrived in Queensland, Australia, yesterday where he visited people affected by Cyclone Yasi. British ex-pat Tania Moore said "I asked him when he was coming back and he said, 'well we might have to come back for our honeymoon!' Everyone started shrieking and applauding."

Sunday Independent