Czechs rally against Ukraine, fuel costs
PRAGUE -- Thousands of protesters rallied again in the Czech capital on Wednesday to condemn the Czech government's handling of the energy crisis and its support for Ukraine.
Despite a national holiday, the protest that united the far right with the far left was smaller than the some 70,000 people who gathered for the same reasons at Prague's central Wenceslas Square on Sept 3.
Waving Czech national flags, the protesters demanded the resignation of the current pro-Western coalition government led by conservative Prime Minister Petr Fiala.
"Resign, resign," they repeatedly chanted during a demonstration held under the slogan "The Czech Republic first," a reference to former U.S. President Donald Trump's nationalist platform which he called "America first."
They criticized the government on a number of issues, including supporting the European Union's sanctions against Russia, and dismissed as insufficient the government's help for households and businesses affected by soaring energy prices.
The organizers oppose Czech membership in the European Union and NATO and some other international organizations, such as the United nations and the World Health Organization.
Germans search far-right party's offices
BERLIN -- The national headquarters of the far-right Alternative for Germany, or AfD, party in Berlin were searched by officials with the city's prosecutor's office on Wednesday.
Six other locations in the German capital and the states of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia were also searched.
The searches were primarily concerned with an initial investigation against former party Chairman Joerg Meuthen and the party's former treasurer in connection with earlier statements of accounts.
According to investigators, they may have violated the country's political parties act and committed breach of trust.
"The defendants are suspected of violating the German Political Parties Act and of breach of trust, as the accounts submitted to the president of the German parliament by the AfD for the years 2016, 2017 and 2018, for which the defendants are responsible, contained allegedly incorrect information regarding party donations," the prosecutor's office said in a statement.
Local media reported as well that the party is alleged to have made false statements in accountability reports to parliament in the years 2016 to 2018.
The party condemned the raids in a statement.
"Since this morning, the Berlin public prosecutor's office has been conducting a house search in the premises of the federal headquarters of Alternative for Germany, without any prior inquiry having been directed to the AfD regarding the facts to be clarified," it said.
Man killed in Belgian anti-terror raid
BRUSSELS -- Anti-terror raids targeting a group of suspected far-right extremists left one person dead in Belgium after police exchanged gunfire with a man at one location Wednesday, justice officials said.
The federal prosecutor's office said a dozen searches were carried out in seven different municipalities, including Antwerp and Ghent, as part of an investigation into "the preparation of a terrorist attack and the violation of the legislation on weapons."
The Antwerp prosecutor's office opened an investigation into the circumstances of the man's death.
The office said in a statement that the shooting occurred when special units of the federal police raided the home of a 36-year-old man, who was hit by a police bullet. Emergency services intervened but the man died of his injuries at the scene.
The office initially told the AP that the man opened fire on police when they tried to enter his home. Prosecutors later said the investigation would determine who shot first.
Federal prosecutors said the searches in the Antwerp region resulted in the seizure of a large number of weapons and ammunition.
According to Belgian broadcaster VRT, the man who was shot dead was a gold and silver trader who collected weapons and military items. Belgian public broadcaster RTBF said he had expressed on social media his interest in far-right theories and opposition to the Belgian government's measures during the coronavirus pandemic.
Restaurant fire kills 17 people in China
BEIJING -- A restaurant fire killed 17 people on Wednesday in the city of Changchun in northeastern China, authorities said.
The fire was reported about 12:40 p.m. in a high-tech section of the Changchun New Area industrial zone, according to a social media post by the zone's management committee.
Three other people were injured and taken to a hospital for treatment, the post said. A gas explosion was initially blamed for causing the fire, according to the fire and rescue service.
Changchun is an auto manufacturing center and the capital of Jilin province.
China, which has some of the world's most draconian anti-coronavirus restrictions, continues to suffer from deadly accidents blamed on poor design and construction, failure to observe safety requirements and insufficient inspections and enforcement.