World briefs: Syrian war toll high for youths

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BEIRUT, Lebanon -- The conflict in Syria enters its fourth year this month with no sign that the war that has killed more than 140,000 people will end soon.

As on all battlefields, children have been the most vulnerable victims, living horrors beyond their years. At least 10,000 of them have died, more than a million are living as refugees and millions more are displaced inside their country, according to a United Nations report last month.

They've been summarily executed, recruited for combat, sexually abused, detained and tortured, according to the report. Both Syrian President Bashar Assad's government and the rebels trying to topple him are to blame, it said.

Jordanian judge killed

JERUSALEM -- Israeli guards shot and killed a Jordanian judge on Monday who the Israelis said tried to grab a rifle from a soldier at the border crossing between the West Bank and Jordan.

The shooting took place at the Allenby crossing as the man was going from Jordan into the West Bank, the Israeli army said. Shootings there are rare. Israel and Jordan signed a peace agreement 20 years ago and have close security ties.

In a separate incident, Palestinian police said an Israeli settler shot and killed a Palestinian who was throwing rocks at Israeli cars in the West Bank.

Threat against elections

KABUL, Afghanistan -- The Taliban threatened voters Monday and warned they will "use all force" possible to disrupt Afghan presidential elections next month, posing a crucial test for the country's security forces seeking to show they can bring stability as the West prepares to end its combat mission by the end of the year.

The April 5 balloting will be a key benchmark in Afghanistan's efforts to forge a democracy as voters will choose a successor to President Hamid Karzai, who has governed the country since 2004, three years after the 2001 U.S.-led invasion that ousted the Taliban. Mr. Karzai is not allowed to seek a third term.

Pope to visit South Korea

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis plans to travel to South Korea in August, the Vatican said Monday, in what will be the first papal visit to the country in 25 years.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the pope will visit Aug. 14-18 on the occasion of the Sixth Asian Youth Day, to be held in the diocese of Daejeon.

Pope Francis also is scheduled to stop in Seoul and take part in the canonization of 124 Korean Catholic martyrs from the 18th and 19th century.

Roughly 8 percent of South Korea's 49 million inhabitants are Roman Catholics. The last pope to visit was John Paul II, in 1989.

Tokyo radiation improves

TOKYO -- Atmospheric radiation levels in Tokyo are at the same level as before the Fukushima nuclear accident three years ago and are below those in Paris and London, data from the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Public Health show.

The average radiation level in central Tokyo was 0.0339 microsieverts per hour on Thursday, the data show. That's about the same as the day before the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami caused the meltdown of three reactors 137 miles to the northeast.

That reading compares with 0.085 microsieverts in London and 0.108 mSv in Seoul on March 3, and 0.057 mSv in Paris on Feb. 27, according to a compilation of world monitoring sites on the website of the Japan National Tourism Organization. Levels in central Tokyo were as high as 0.809 mSv per hour on March 15, 2011, before declining to 0.0489 mSv a week later.

-- Compiled from news services

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