This image made from amateur video released by Shaam News Network and accessed Friday, May 25, 2012 purports to show police running toward a protest in Damascus, Syria. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network via AP video) TV OUT, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS CANNOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE CONTENT, DATE, LOCATION OR AUTHENTICITY OF THIS MATERIAL
GENEVA (AP) -- The head of the U.N. observer team in central Syria says at least 32 children under 10 years of age and more than 60 adults were killed in fighting in the center of the country Friday.
Gen. Robert Mood condemns the attack in Houla, northwest of Homs, as a "brutal tragedy" but hasn't identified who was responsible for the killing, but he says U.N. observers found artillery tank shells at the site of the fighting.
Mood said in a statement Saturday that "whoever started, whoever responded, and whoever carried out this deplorable act of violence, should be held responsible."
The head of the U.N. team says more than 90 people were killed Friday in Houla (HOH'-lah), including at least 32 children under 10 years of age. Amateur video posted online show rows of dead children lying in a mosque in bloody clothing with gaping head wounds.
Activists say government troops shelled a string of villages in northwest of Homs (hohms) before thugs loyal to President Bashar Assad swept through the area, shooting people in the streets and in their homes.
Amateur videos show scores of dead, including 14 children lined shoulder to shoulder on the ground.
The Syrian government is blaming the massacre on "armed terrorist groups" but has provided no details.
But France is putting the blame squarely on the Assad regime. Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (loh-RAHN' FAH'-bee-yus) condemned the attack, calling the Syrian government a "murderous regime" that's pushing the country "further into horror."
-- Syria's opposition is calling on the U.N. Security Council to reassess the world body's responsibility in Syria in light of the latest massacre.
The U.N. has more than 250 military observers in Syria trying to salvage a cease-fire. A spokesman for the team said they visited the site of the latest massacre today. But an activist in Houla says residents asked the observers to leave for fear their visit would provoke another government attack.
CAIRO (AP) -- Former President Jimmy Carter says monitors noted violations during Egypt's presidential elections this week, but the vote was acceptable and the irregularities aren't enough to affect the final results.
The Muslim Brotherhood's candidate (Mohammed Morsi) and Hosni Mubarak's last prime minister (Ahmed Shafiq) earned the most votes in the first round and will face each other in a runoff next month.
But the third-place finisher (Hamdeen Sabahi) has demanded a recount. His campaign is claiming it has evidence of electoral violations in "many polling centers" that could change the outcome. But it's not offering details.
The Atlanta-based Carter Center had 102 monitors at polling centers across Egypt for the landmark vote -- the first since longtime leader Hosni Mubarak's ouster last year in a mass uprising.
Carter said his group was not able to monitor the entire process because authorities only granted his mission's observers permits a week before the race. The violations witnessed included a lack of privacy for voters and the observers' lack of access to the final vote counting. But he says he doesn't believe the mistakes will taint the runoff.
SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) -- Chilean army bomb specialists have pulled the remains of a Peruvian taxi out of a minefield where at least one person was killed in an explosion. Authorities say the driver went into a well-marked minefield in an apparent attempt to avoid border controls.
A police official at Chile's Chacalluta border crossing says more than one person was killed. The on-duty official spoke on condition of anonymity per police policy.
The taxi blew up Friday night after leaving the Pan-American Highway on its way out of Chile.
Chile placed thousands of land mines along its Peruvian border during the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet in the 1970s and 80s.
TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) -- Hundreds of hardline Islamists terrorized a Tunisian town on Saturday, attacking a police station and stores selling alcohol.
The official TAP news agency said police fired tear gas in Jendouba to disperse groups of ultraconservative Muslims known as Salafis, some armed with clubs or sabers.
Four people were arrested and police were searching for others, Interior Minister Ali Laarayedh said on Radio Mosaique.
There has been a resurgence of hardline Islamists since the fall in February 2011 of Tunisia's autocratic leader, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who had jailed many Islamists and forced others underground.
TAP said 200 Salafis reacted violently to the arrest on Friday of a fellow Muslim adhering to their brand of Islam. They threw Molotov cocktails and stones at Jendouba's national security headquarters, their numbers growing to some 500 as they moved to the center of town. They set fire to the police station and pillaged bars and stores where alcohol was sold en route, some calling for a holy war.
As police used tear gas, soldiers took up positions outside public buildings. The Salafis eventually took refuge in a mosque, TAP said.
The violence came a week after Salafis attacked bars and other places selling liquor in Sidi Bouzid, the central western town where the spark of the Tunisian revolution that triggered the Arab Spring was lit.
In a dramatic display of force, hundreds of Salafis dressed in Afghan-style garb gathered from several regions in the holy city of Kairouan last Sunday. With some bearing sabers and astride horses, they carried out martial arts exercises or rode around under the eye of Abu Yadh, whose real name is Seifallah Ben Hassine. He was imprisoned under Ben Ali but pardoned after his fall.
SANAA, Yemen (AP) -- Yemeni military officials say fighting in two southern flashpoint towns has left 27 al-Qaida fighters and seven soldiers dead, and a top commander says the army is pushing the militants out of the area.
The officials say 20 militants and seven soldiers have been killed in fighting near Zinjibar, the capital of southern Abyan province, that continued from Friday until early Saturday. They say seven other militants have been killed in nearby Jaar.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
Brig. Gen. Mohammed al-Somali, commander of the 25th Mechanized Brigade, says the army has advanced deep into Zinjibar. The town fell last year to al-Qaida, who took advantage of political turmoil to extend their control over much of the south.
BAGHDAD (AP) -- Officials say a roadside bombing in northern Iraq has killed three soldiers.
Two security officials say the bomb exploded at noon Saturday, hitting an Iraqi army patrol in Badoush.
The town is about 20 kilometers (12 miles) northwest of Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city and a former al-Qaida stronghold.
Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.
The level of violence has dropped dramatically in Iraq, although deadly attacks on security forces and civilians are still common.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- NATO says four of its service members have been killed in separate roadside bomb attacks in southern Afghanistan.
NATO said in a statement Sunday that all four deaths occurred Saturday. It provided no other details on the attacks, including the nationalities of the service members.
Their deaths bring to 32 the number of service members killed so far this month, for a total of 164 this year.
GOUDOUDE DIOBE, Senegal (AP) -- UNICEF estimates that more than 1 million children under 5 in a wide, arid swath of Africa below the Sahara are now at risk of a food shortage so severe that it threatens their lives.
In Senegal, which is relatively stable and prosperous, malnutrition among children in the north has already surpassed 14 percent, just shy of the World Health Organization threshold for an emergency.
Hunger in this region is a lurking predator. Even in a non-crisis year, some 300,000 children die from lack of food across western and central Africa. All it takes is a drought and a failed harvest, and those who are now barely living on one meal a day will starve.
Since late 2011, aid groups have been sounding the alarm about how drought is once again devastating communities. But not enough donations have come in.
The situation is worst in Niger, Chad and Mali, where political chaos has forced hundreds of thousands to seek refuge in places where people don't have enough to eat themselves. But in a worrisome sign, this time the crisis also threatens 20,000 children in northern Senegal.
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