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SYRIA: UN panel condemns child killings

A UN investigation concluded Monday that Syrian forces committed crimes against humanity in killing and torturing hundreds of children, including a 2-year-old girl reportedly shot to death so she wouldn't grow up to be a demonstrator. The inquiry added to mounting pressure on President Bashar Assad, a day after the Arab League approved sweeping sanctions to push his embattled regime to end the violence. Syria's foreign minister called that action "a declaration of economic war." The report by a UN Human Rights Council panel, released in Geneva, found that at least 256 children were killed by government forces between mid-March and early November, some of them tortured to death.

PAKISTAN: Attack was retaliatory, Afghans say

Pakistani military officials angrily dismissed on Monday Afghan government claims that a NATO airstrike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers was a retaliatory measure against fire from the soldiers' two border posts or from nearby militants. Coalition forces called in air support only after coming under fire from the Pakistani side of the frontier, Afghan and Western officials said. But several officials said it remained unclear whether the fire came from insurgents sheltering near the Pakistani posts or from the posts themselves. The airstrikes early Saturday incurred the deadliest single toll of Pakistani soldiers slain by NATO troops since the Afghan conflict began 10 years ago. The Associated Press learned, meanwhile, that a U.S. military account of the airstrike suggests the deaths resulted from a case of mistaken identity.

CONGO: Nine dead in election violence

Voting materials arrived late or sometimes not at all in precincts throughout the country Monday, but elections went ahead, raising doubts about the legitimacy of a poll that has seen nine people killed. The government had been urged to delay the vote because of massive logistical problems. Some districts of Congo, which has suffered decades of dictatorship and two civil wars, are so remote that ballot boxes had to be transported on the heads of porters, and by dugout canoe across churning rivers.

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