World briefs: U.N. approves Congo force

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UNITED NATIONS -- The U.N. Security Council authorized a new "intervention brigade" for Congo on Thursday with an unprecedented mandate to take military action against rebel groups to help bring peace to the country's conflict-wracked east.

The resolution, sponsored by France, the United States and Togo and which the council adopted unanimously, gives the brigade a mandate to carry out offensive operations alone or with Congolese army troops to neutralize and disarm armed groups.

The brigade is unprecedented in U.N. peacekeeping because of its offensive mandate. The resolution, however, states clearly that it would be established for one year "on an exceptional basis and without creating a precedent" to the principles of U.N. peacekeeping.

Pope washes feet of 12

ROME -- Pope Francis washed and kissed the feet of a dozen inmates, including two young women, at a juvenile detention center in a surprising departure from church rules that restrict the Holy Thursday ritual to men.

The Mass was held in the Casal del Marmo facility, where 46 young men and women are detained. Many of them are Gypsies or North African migrants, and the 12 selected for the ritual reportedly included Orthodox and Muslim detainees.

Because the inmates were mostly minors -- the facility houses inmates aged 14-to-21 -- the Vatican and Italian Justice Ministry limited media access. But Vatican Radio carried the Mass live, and in his homily Francis told the detainees that Jesus washed the feet of his disciples on the eve of his crucifixion in a gesture of love and service.

Mandela hospitalized

JOHANNESBURG -- Former President Nelson Mandela of South Africa was readmitted to the hospital late Wednesday because of a recurring lung infection, President Jacob Zuma said Thursday.

It was the third time in four months that Mr. Mandela, 94, South Africa's first black president and former leader of the dominant African National Congress, had been hospitalized, rekindling worries about his frailty.

Arms trade treaty blocked

UNITED NATIONS -- Iran, North Korea and Syria blocked adoption Thursday of a U.N. treaty that would regulate the multibillion-dollar international arms trade, which required agreement by all 193 U.N. member states.

In an unexpected twist, Mexico proposed that the conference go ahead and adopt the treaty Thursday without the support of the three countries, saying there was no definition of "consensus." Delegates then started debating whether this should be done and several countries supported Mexico, but the Russian delegation called the proposal "a manipulation of consensus" and objected.

Kenya said "the will of the overwhelming majority is clear" and when the meeting closes a letter will be sent to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with a draft resolution asking the U.N. chief to bring the treaty before the General Assembly for adoption as soon as possible.

Pakistani teen writes book

LONDON -- Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager shot in the head by the Taliban as she returned home from school, is writing a book about the traumatic event and her long-running campaign to promote children's education.

A Taliban gunman shot Malala Oct. 9 in northwestern Pakistan. The militant group said it targeted her because she promoted "Western thinking" and, through a blog, had been an outspoken critic of the Taliban's opposition to educating girls.

-- Compiled from news services

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