Activists say airstrike by Syria kills 20

Syria

Activists say 20 killed in airstrike

A Syrian government airstrike on a town in the country's northwest killed at least 20 people Saturday, shattering store fronts, setting cars ablaze, and sending a giant plume of black and gray smoke into the sky.

President Bashar Assad's air force has been one of his biggest assets in the two-year-old civil war, and he has used warplanes and helicopters to try to check rebel advances, although the regime also frequently hits civilian areas.

A Human Rights Watch report last week accused the government of committing war crimes by using indiscriminate and sometimes deliberate airstrikes against civilians.

Saturday's air raid struck the town of Saraqeb in Idlib province, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights activist group. The Observatory said three children were among the 20 people killed in the attack.

West Hollywood, Calif.

Vigilance urged after meningitis surfaces

A potentially deadly strain of meningitis, which has left one resident brain dead, has sent a shiver through the gay community in West Hollywood, as officials urge residents to be on the lookout for symptoms of the disease.

The onset follows an outbreak in New York City among gay men: At least 22 men have contracted meningitis since 2010, 13 of them this year, and seven have died. In New York, health officials last month urged all men who regularly have intimate contact with other men to be vaccinated.

West Bank

Palestinian prime minister resigns

Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad resigned on Saturday, leaving the Palestinians without one of their most moderate and well-respected voices just as the United States is launching a new push for Mideast peace.

A statement from the official Palestinian news agency Wafa said President Mahmoud Abbas met with Fayyad late in the day and accepted his resignation, thanking him for his service. According to the statement, Abbas asked Fayyad to continue to serve in his post until Abbas forms a new government.

Fayyad has served since mid 2007. A squeaky-clean public image and willingness to take on entrenched interests has often landed him in trouble with Abbas' long-ruling Fatah movement.

China

New bird flu infection in Beijing, officials say

A 7-year-old girl has become the first confirmed case in Beijing of the latest strain of bird flu virus, which has killed 11 and sickened 34 others in eastern China, officials said Saturday.

The Beijing Health Bureau said the girl, whose parents are in the live poultry trade, was admitted to hospital Thursday with symptoms of fever, sore throat, coughing and headache. It said she was confirmed to be infected with the H7N9 virus on Saturday after tests by disease control and prevention centers.

The case in China's capital is the first one reported outside eastern China, where the virus was first spotted in late March, prompting massive slaughtering of live fowl and bans on poultry trade in several cities, including the financial hub Shanghai. Shanghai, the center of the outbreak, has reported 20 cases, including seven fatalities.

Neighboring Jiangsu province on Saturday confirmed two more cases. The province has reported 14 cases, with one dead. Zhejiang province has reported nine cases, and Anhui province has had two.

Times wires

Activists say airstrike by Syria kills 20

04/13/13 [Last modified: Sunday, April 14, 2013 12:18am]

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