11 civilians reported killed in NATO strike

A NATO airstrike killed 11 Afghan civilians, including 10 children, during a fierce weekend gun battle with Taliban militants that also left one U.S. civilian adviser dead in eastern Afghanistan, Afghan officials said Sunday.

The U.S.-led coalition confirmed that airstrikes were called in by international forces during the Afghan-led operation in a remote area of Konar province near the border with Pakistan. The coalition said it was aware of reports that civilians were killed but had no immediate information about their deaths.

Afghan civilian casualties have been a major point of contention between international forces and the Afghan government, prompting President Hamid Karzai this year to ban his troops from requesting coalition airstrikes.

Wasifullah Wasify, a government official in Konar, said the airstrike Saturday targeted a house and killed 10 children and one woman inside. He also said that seven Taliban suspects were killed and five women wounded inside the house.

— Associated Press

Judiciary urges top prosecutor to leave

Egypt’s highest judicial body on Sunday urged the nation’s top prosecutor to step down less than five months after the president appointed him, reflecting persistent turmoil in the government’s upper echelon that has often been accompanied by violence.

Also Sunday, Christians angered by the killing of four fellow Christians in sectarian violence during the weekend clashed with a mob throwing rocks and firebombs outside the gate of St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo.

At least 21 people were injured in the clashes, according to the head of the national ambulance service, Mohammed Sultan.

The surprise statement from the Supreme Judiciary Council came on a day when Egypt’s railway services ground to a halt because of a strike by train drivers and conductors. The work stoppage snarled intercity transit in this nation of about 90 million.

The statement, carried by the official Middle East News Agency, urged the chief prosecutor, Talaat Abdullah, “to express a wish” to return to his previous job as a judge for the sake of the unity of the judiciary.

Abdullah’s appointment in December set off protests by many judges and fellow prosecutors, who called it illegal. The protests forced him to tender his resignation, but he later withdrew it and remained in office.

— Associated Press

Widespread airstrikes kill at least 20

After weeks of rebel gains in the south, Syria’s government launched widespread airstrikes Sunday that targeted at least seven cities or regions and killed at least 20, activists said.

The government also urged rebel fighters to surrender their arms, warning in cellphone text messages that the army is “coming to get you.”

State television said the primary goal of the airstrikes was to “recapture areas taken by the terrorists,” the term the regime uses to refer to opposition fighters in the civil war.

Rebels trying to topple President Bashar al-Assad have been making gains in recent weeks, especially in the south near the border with Jordan. They have seized military bases and towns in the strategically important region between Damascus, the capital, and the border with Jordan, about 100 miles away.

Last week, they looked poised to take over the area along the Jordanian border, which could be used to stage an attack on Damascus, Assad’s seat of power.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the airstrikes Sunday targeted the northern cities of Aleppo and Idlib and the central cities of Homs and Hama. The western Mediterranean city of Latakia, the eastern province of Deir al-Zour and the suburbs of Damascus also were targeted.

— Associated Press

Explosions kill 4 in northwest Iraq: A trio of bombs exploded Sunday in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, killing four security officers and wounding seven other people, officials said. The violence began with a car bomb that killed two soldiers and wounded five, police officials said. A second bomb, which was placed under a vehicle, wounded two people. Later, a roadside bomb killed a police officer and a soldier.

Ukraine’s president pardons 2 Tymoshenko allies: A top ally of imprisoned former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko walked free from jail Sunday after Ukraine’s president pardoned him and another former minister, moving toward fulfilling a key demand on Kiev’s path to closer integration with the European Union. President Viktor Yanukovych signed a decree to pardon former interior minister Yuri Lutsenko, 48, who is serving a four-year sentence on charges of abuse of office and embezzlement. Yanukovych also pardoned another Tymoshenko ally, former environment minister Heorhiy Filipchuk, who was imprisoned for abuse of office.

— From news services