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IRAQ: Militant killed in escape try

The accused mastermind of a Baghdad church siege that killed 68 nearly escaped from prison Sunday after wresting a gun from a guard and starting an hours-long assault that left 17 people dead. Ringleader Abu Huthaifa al-Battawi, who allegedly led the October attack on the Our Lady of Salvation cathedral, was shot and killed as he tried to flee in a car. None of the prisoners, all suspected members of al-Qaida in Iraq, managed to break out of the Interior Ministry headquarters in eastern Baghdad.

LIBYA: Shortages crippling nation

Cars sat abandoned in miles-long fuel lines, motorists traded angry screams with soldiers guarding gas stations, and many shops were closed Sunday in Tripoli on what should have been a work day. The capital is feeling the sting of shortages, a dramatic sign of how Libya's nearly 3-month-old rebellion is affecting daily life in areas still under Moammar Gadhafi's rule. Yet the deprivations pale in comparison with the situation in Misrata, under siege for two months, with hundreds of civilians killed, and with Gadhafi's forces trying to block access to its port.

SYRIA: Assad's strikes kill boy, 12

Gunfire and shelling rattled the central city of Homs on Sunday and killed a 12-year-old boy, as President Bashar Assad's autocratic regime expanded its crackdown on a seven-week uprising by sending tanks to key areas, activists said. Authorities also arrested a 10-year-old boy, apparently to punish his parents, they said.

JAPAN: Nuclear energy defended

Atomic power will remain a major part of Japan's energy policy despite the crisis at one tsunami-crippled plant and a looming shutdown of another while its quake protections are improved, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku said Sunday. No reactors other than the three units at the Hamaoka power plant in central Japan would be shuttered over quake and tsunami concerns, he said.

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