Nation & World briefing

Iraqi election — Iraqis on Wednesday were voting in the first parliamentary elections since the 2011 withdrawal of U.S. troops amid the country’s worst sectarian violence in years and a huge security operation. At least five civilians were killed and 11 wounded in two separate bombings targeting polling stations in the city of Baqouba, northeast of Baghdad. An election employee was killed in a bombing near a polling station in the northern city of Mosul. Meanwhile, two civilians were killed when a mortar shell hit a polling facility in the western mostly Sunni province of Ramadi.

Train fire — Multiple CSX train cars carrying crude oil derailed and caught fire Wednesday along the James River in Virginia, with three tankers ending up in the water and leaking some of their contents, becoming the most recent crash involving oil trains that has safety experts pushing for better oversight. Nearby buildings were evacuated for a time in downtown Lynchburg, but there were no injuries, authorities said. CSX said the train was on its way from Chicago to an unspecified destination when most of the cars on the train were knocked off the tracks. Online photos and videos showed large flames and thick, black smoke right after the crash. The fire burned itself out, but authorities were keeping people out of the area.

Southern storms — People were plucked off rooftops or climbed into their attics to get away from fast-rising waters when nearly 2 feet of rain fell on the Florida Panhandle and Alabama coast in the span of about 24 hours, the latest bout of severe weather that began with tornadoes in the Midwest. On Wednesday, roads were chewed up into pieces or wiped out entirely and neighborhoods were inundated, making rescues difficult for hundreds of people who called for help when they were caught off guard by the single rainiest day ever recorded in Pensacola.

California wildfire — A fast-moving wildfire above Rancho Cucamonga in San Bernardino County, Calif., exploded in size to more than 800 acres Wednesday as strong winds drove flames relentlessly and forced authorities to expand mandatory evacuation areas. About 1,100 homes had been evacuated by midday, and at least one was saved from advancing flames, said Liz Brown, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Syrian conflict — An elementary school in the Syrian city of Aleppo was struck by a missile from a government jet Wednesday morning, killing at least 19 people, most of them children, opposition activists said. Hundreds of students from various schools in the neighborhood had gathered at the Ein Jalout school for a children’s community art exhibit when the missile hit, opposition media groups reported.

China attack — Chinese President Xi Jinping has demanded “decisive actions” against terrorism following an attack at a railway station in the far-west minority region of Xinjiang that left three people dead and 79 injured. The bloodshed came as Xi wrapped up a four-day visit to the area that has witnessed rising violence against civilians and authorities blamed on radical Islamists and separatists. The official Xinhua News Agency quoted eyewitnesses as saying at least two blasts went off at the South Station in the regional capital of Urumqi on Wednesday night, while a large group of knife-wielding attackers went after passengers.

— From wire reports