TOP STORIES FROM EUROPE AT 1245 GMT

RUSSIA-EXPLOSION

MOSCOW — At least 14 people were killed and scores were wounded Sunday by a female suicide bomber at a railway station in southern Russia, officials said, heightening concern about terrorism ahead of February's Olympics in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. No one immediately claimed responsibility for Sunday's attack in Volgograd, but it came several months after Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov called for new attacks against civilian targets in Russia, including the Sochi Games. By Vladimir Isachenkov. SENT: 930 words, photos. UPCOMING: lead with more background by 1400 GMT.

SAUDI-NEW TIES

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Increasingly vocal in its frustration over United States policies in the Mideast, Saudi Arabia is strengthening ties elsewhere, seeking out an alignment that will bolster its position after it was pushed to the sidelines this year. It may find a solution in France, whose president is ending the year with 24 hours of high-level meetings with the Saudi leadership in a visit intended to showcase commercial and diplomatic strength. By Adam Schreck and Lori Hinnant. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

BRITAIN-FERRY FIRE

LONDON — A ferry bound for Amsterdam was forced to return to England Sunday following a fire which sent passengers to the outer deck in the middle of the night and prompted rescue services to scramble lifeboats and helicopters. The ferry, carrying 946 passengers to Holland, had sailed just 30 miles (50 kilometers) in the North Sea when the fire broke out at about 11 p.m. Saturday. It was quickly contained, but two crew members and four passengers were taken off the ferry for treatment for smoke inhalation before it returned to Newcastle, in northern England. Twenty-three other people were treated on board for smoke-related injuries. SENT: 250 words, photos.

POLAND-OBIT-KILAR

WARSAW, Poland — Wojciech Kilar, a Polish pianist and composer of classical music and scores for many films, including Roman Polanski's Oscar-winning "The Pianist" and Francis Ford Coppola's "Bram Stoker's Dracula," died Sunday. He was 81. The composer died in his hometown of Katowice, southern Poland, following a long illness, according to Jerzy Kornowicz, head of the Association of Polish Composers. By Monika Scislowska. SENT: 850. UPCOMING: Recast with reaction by 1400 GMT.

FRANCE-TAXING THE RICH

PARIS — French President Francois Hollande has finally got his super tax on high incomes after the country's highest court upheld the law's latest version. Hollande originally promised a 75 percent tax on income over 1 million euros ($1.38 million). It would have affected a tiny number of taxpayers, but it became a symbol of Hollande's campaign promise to make France fairer for the middle class. SENT: 130 words.

GERMANY-VATICAN-DIVORCE

BERLIN — A top German church official says he isn't giving up on an initiative to allow some divorced but remarried Catholics to receive Communion after the Vatican slapped down his diocese's challenge to church teaching. Freiburg Archbishop Robert Zollitsch was quoted Sunday as telling the Welt am Sonntag newspaper that "it is important to look for a viable way" to address the issue. SENT: 130 words.

UKRAINE-PROTEST

KIEV, Ukraine — Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters have gathered on the central square of Ukraine's capital, maintaining more than a month of rallies protesting the government's decision to shelve a key deal with the European Union. The turnout at Sunday's protest was markedly lower compared to some of the earlier rallies, which attracted hundreds of thousands. SENT: 130 word.