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story.lead_photo.caption People pray during a minute of silence at Saturday night’s vigil in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong protesters mourn suicide

HONG KONG -- A vigil was held Saturday night for a Hong Kong woman who fell to her death last week, one of three apparent suicides linked to ongoing protests over fears that freedoms are being eroded in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

Before falling from a shopping mall on June 30, the 29-year-old woman left a message on Facebook that wished for the protesters' success but said she could not carry on, Hong Kong media have reported.

A 21-year old student had fallen to her death the previous day, as did a man after hanging a protest banner about two weeks earlier. The three deaths have raised concerns about the possibility of copycat suicides among other disaffected people.

The protesters say Hong Kong's leader, Carrie Lam, has not shown empathy for the victims.

Matthew Cheung, the chief secretary for administration, said Friday that the government feels deeply sorry and saddened by the suicides and will do all it can to stop the trend.

"We realize that many people are feeling unhappy at this present moment," he said. "That's why we have to work together. Life is very important. Nothing's more important than life."

The protests were sparked by a government proposal to allow the extradition of suspects to mainland China to face trial. Lam has suspended the legislation indefinitely, but protesters are calling for the formal withdrawal of the bill and Lam's resignation.

Yemen rebels claim attacks on Saudis

SANAA, Yemen -- Yemen's rebels say they have launched drone attacks targeting two Saudi Arabian airports.

The Houthis' Al-Masirah satellite news channel on Saturday said the rebels, known as Houthis, attacked Saudi airports in Abha and Jizan with Qasef-2K drones.

Yahia Sarie, spokesman for the Iran-aligned Houthi forces, said the attacks resulted in the suspension of air traffic in both airports.

Saudi Arabia, Yemen's neighbor to the north, did not immediately comment on the Houthi claim, and a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis in Yemen did not answer calls seeking comment.

The Houthis have increasingly used drones to target southern Saudi Arabia, including two recent strikes on the Abha airport, which killed one person and wounded over 30.

The Saudi-led coalition's airstrikes have been internationally criticized for killing civilians.

Brazilians find secret grave, 12 bodies

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Police in Rio de Janeiro on Friday found a clandestine grave with at least 12 bodies in a metropolitan part of the city where a militia group operates.

The grave was discovered in Itaborai about 25 miles from Rio, and authorities believe the cemetery could be used by a paramilitary group that was targeted last week in a raid that led to 43 detentions.

By Friday evening authorities had found 12 bodies, some in a state of advanced decomposition. The identities of the bodies are still unknown.

The Rio state prosecutor's office asked relatives of militia victims to inform police of possible disappearances to help determine who was buried in the cemetery.

Police say the militia operating in the area is believed to have carried out torture, extortion and some 50 murders since the beginning of last year, with many of the victims listed as missing.

Local authorities estimate that militias control about one-quarter of the territory of Rio de Janeiro state.

European parades celebrate gay pride

MADRID -- European cities celebrated lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer pride on Saturday with colorful parades that also became platforms for political demands and a push back against far-right populist parties.

This year's events in London, Madrid and Budapest mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn uprising in New York against police persecution, a turning point in the modern gay-rights movement.

The Spanish capital's pride event has become one of the largest in the world.

On Saturday, tens of thousands took to the streets in a march that celebrated sexual and gender diversity. Some called for better care for elder LGBTQ people and a nationwide law that, among other long-running demands, would standardize rights for transgender people across the country.

In London, hundreds of thousands also poured into the streets of London for Britain's biggest pride parade. Some 30,000 participants, including uniformed police and firefighters, marched, while many more lining the streets cheered and waved rainbow flags.

In the Hungarian capital, Budapest, thousands also took part in a pride parade that stressed calls for acceptance and the right to live without fear.

A crowd gathers for Saturday’s pride parade in Madrid, one of several such events held in European cities.

A Section on 07/07/2019

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