CAIRO (AP) -- An Egyptian security official says the death toll from clashes between Islamist protesters and security forces the day before has risen to 17.
The official reported the new toll on Saturday. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to media.
Friday's protests gripped Cairo and other heavily populated cities and provinces such as Alexandria, Ismailia, Fayoum and Minya.
They were the most violent in months, coming less than two weeks ahead of a key referendum on an amended constitution.
The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest Islamist group, and its supporters have called for a boycott of the vote. They have staged near-daily protests since the military ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in a popularly-backed coup in July.
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) -- It's been another day of shuttle diplomacy by Secretary of State John Kerry, who met for two and a-half hours with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas before heading back to Jerusalem for his third set of talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in three days.
Kerry says there's been progress in the Mideast peace effort, but that some of the most stubborn disputes between Israelis and Palestinians still need to be resolved.
Kerry is trying to nudge the leaders closer to a peace pact that would establish a Palestinian state and set a framework to guide talks for a final settlement in the decades-long dispute.
VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Francis has made another one of his cold calls to wish a group of nuns in a Spanish convent Happy New Year. Only he got their answering machine, instead.
"What are the nuns doing that they can't answer the phone?" Francis asked in the message he left, the recording of which was obtained by Spain's El Mundo newspaper and broadcast on Italian media Saturday.
"This is Pope Francis. I wanted to offer you greetings for the end of the year. Maybe I'll try to call again later. May God bless you," he said.
Francis has made a habit out of calling people out of the blue, often checking in with ordinary folk who have written him about their hardships. He places the calls himself, as evidenced by the message.
MOSCOW (AP) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin has rescinded a blanket ban on demonstrations in and around the Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Sochi.
An order published on the Kremlin's website Saturday says that meetings, gatherings, demonstrations, marches and picketing that is not connected with the games may be held in places or along routes approved by the Interior Ministry, which is in charge of the country's police.
Putin last year ordered a ban on any demonstrations in Sochi not connected with the games from Jan. 7 to March 21. The move was widely criticized by human rights organizations.
Although the Saturday order lifts the blanket ban, Russian authorities generally are stingy about granting rally permission to opposition groups and critics.
SANAA, Yemen (AP) -- Yemeni security officials say renewed clashes in the north between rebels belonging to a Shiite-branch of Islam and ultraconservative Salafis backed by allying tribes have killed 17.
The officials say Saturday's clashes were in Amran province, one of three fronts where battles are raging between Hawthi rebels and Salafis. Two other fronts with sporadic fighting are in the adjacent Saada and al-Jawf provinces, bordering Saudi Arabia.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.
President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi is expected to send meditators.
The fight over the northern region is taking a sectarian undertone as Salafis are accused of trying to spread their school of thought in a stronghold of Hawthis, who belong to the Zaydi sect.
Gang rape, killing of teen in India sparks outrage
KOLKATA, India (AP) -- The father of a teenager who was allegedly gang raped and later died after being set on fire in eastern India is demanding a federal inquiry into the case.
Hundreds of people protested Friday in Kolkata, accusing West Bengal state authorities of failing to protect the family.
Police say the 16-year-old girl reported being gang raped on two consecutive days in late October.
The girl's father told reporters last week that his daughter was set alight Dec. 23 after being threatened with violence if she didn't withdraw her complaint. She died from her injuries on Wednesday. Neither she nor her father is being named by Indian media under laws guarding rape victims' identities.
Police arrested six suspects in the rape and another two who allegedly set the girl on fire.
ISLAMABAD (AP) -- Police in eastern Pakistan have arrested a woman for beating to death her 10-year-old maid after accusing the girl of stealing a few rupees, less than a dollar's worth.
Police official Mohammed Yousaf said Saturday the incident happened in the eastern city of Lahore. The girl died on Thursday, after her employer had brought her to hospital.
Yousaf says the doctors alerted the police after seeing signs of abuse and torture on the girl's body. Later, the woman confessed to killing her maid with a steel pipe.
Child labor is common in Pakistan, which has no legislation setting a minimum age for work. Children -- mostly from extremely poor and illiterate families -- are commonly employed in households for domestic work and often exposed to verbal, physical and sexual abuse.
ISLAMABAD (AP) -- A Pakistani police official says more than 2,000 Islamists from a hard-line Sunni group have rallied in Islamabad to condemn the killing of two of their clerics, gunned down in an apparent sectarian attack the previous day.
Police official Mohammed Shami says the protesters also held a funeral ceremony for the two on a street near the Parliament building on Saturday. Afterward, the clerics' bodies were taken to a nearby graveyard for burial.
Shami says gunmen ambushed and killed the clerics on Friday.
The two were from the Ahle Sunnat Waljamaat group, which is linked to the outlawed Sipah-e-Sahaba extremist group that has been accused of killing thousands of Shiites in recent years.
No one claimed responsibility for the attack but the protesters blamed Pakistan's minority Shiites for it.
KARO, Indonesia (AP) -- Authorities have extended a danger zone around a rumbling volcano in western Indonesia after it spewed blistering gas farther than expected.
National Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho says more than 50 eruptions on Saturday sent lava and searing gas tumbling out of Mount Sinabung in North Sumatra province down the southeastern slopes up to 5 kilometers (3 miles) away.
He said the volcano's danger zone to the southeast was extended from five to seven kilometers (three to four miles) after the new eruption.
It was still spitting clouds of gas and lava as high as 4,000 meters (13,000 feet) on Sunday, but no casualties were reported.
More than 20,000 people have been evacuated from villages around the crater into several temporary shelters.
Sinabung has been erupting since September.
BEIJING (AP) -- Chinese authorities say safety at the country's coal mines improved in 2013, with the numbers of accidents and deaths decreasing from the previous year.
The central government said Saturday that there were 589 mining accidents last year, leaving 1,049 people dead or missing. It did not give prior-year figures, but said the numbers declined by more than 24 percent.
Industry reports from a year ago say more than 1,300 people died in mining accidents in China in 2012 and 1,973 died in 2011, according to the State Administration of Work Safety. Both figures do not include missing people.
China still has the world's deadliest coal mines, but authorities have made it a priority to improve safety.