TOP STORIES FROM EUROPE AT 1105 GMT

UKRAINE

DONETSK, Ukraine — Mortar fire struck an apartment block in the rebel-held east Ukraine city of Donetsk overnight, yet another violation of a cease-fire between government forces and pro-Russian insurgents. While both sides said Tuesday they saw progress on the ground in fulfilling an agreement to pull back heavy artillery weapons from the front-line, on Wednesday Kiev accused the rebels of violating a cease-fire imposed Sept. 5. By Darko Vojinovic. SENT: 430 words, photos.

FRANCE-JIHADI MIX-UP

PARIS — France's body politic is up in arms after three suspected French jihadis who had traveled to Syria were sent home by police in Turkey without French police knowing about it. Adding to officials' discomfort, French authorities initially said the three men were apprehended at Paris' Orly airport — only to announce later that the suspects had flown to Marseille, passed through a passport check and customs and walked away free. By Jamey Keaten. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 460 words by 1200 GMT.

ROMANIA-COMMUNIST PRISONS

BUCHAREST, Romania — A former Romanian prison commander appeared in court Wednesday to face charges of torture and causing the deaths of 12 political prisoners in the nation's first trial of the head of a communist lockup. Alexandru Visinescu, who ran the Ramnicu Sarat prison from 1956 to 1963 and is charged with crimes against humanity, was in court but did not take the stand, listening attentively to the proceedings. By Alison Mutler. SENT: 310 words. UPCOMING: photos.

TURKEY-ISLAMIC STATE-FAMILIES-ABRIDGED

ISTANBUL — Asiya Ummi Abdullah doesn't share the view that the Islamic State group rules over a terrorist dystopia and she isn't scared by the American bombs falling on Raqqa, its power center in Syria. As far as she's concerned, it's the ideal place to raise a family. By Berza Simsek and Raphael Satter. SENT: 670 words, photos.

SPAIN-KNIFE ATTACK

MADRID — Spanish police say they have arrested a man who has confessed to stabbing five people in an hour in the northeastern city of Lleida. A municipal police spokeswoman said the man, a 21-year-old Spaniard, admitted to the stabbings when police stopped him in the street Tuesday. The man was taken to a hospital for medical and psychiatric tests. By Ciaran Giles. SENT: 130 words.

GERMANY-ECONOMY

BERLIN — Business confidence in Germany, Europe's largest economy, has dropped for the fifth consecutive month — continuing a slide that has been fueled by the persistent turmoil in Ukraine and sluggish growth in Europe and China. The Ifo institute said Wednesday that its confidence index dropped to 104.7 points for September from 106.3 last month as the mood among executives darkened regarding both the current situation and the outlook for the next six months. SENT: 200 words.

GERMANY-TAX EVASION

BERLIN — Germany is tightening rules that allow tax evaders to escape punishment if they come clean, a move that follows the conviction in March of soccer powerhouse Bayern Munich's ex-president. The Cabinet on Wednesday approved legislation extending the statute of limitations on tax evasion to 10 years. It currently expires after five years in many cases. SENT: 140 words.

POLAND-DEFENSE-EXERCISE

WARSAW, Poland — Poland's defense minister has launched a major international military exercise that is to test readiness to react to security threats at a time of armed conflict in neighboring Ukraine. Tomasz Siemoniak said Wednesday he had originally planned that the biannual exercise would be at command level only, but due to the situation in Ukraine, which also involves Russia, he decided it should have wider participation. SENT: 130 words.