Thousands of civilians flee in east Congo

KILIMANYOKA, Congo - Rebels vowing to take Congo's eastern provincial capital advanced toward Goma on Tuesday, sending tens of thousands fleeing. The top U.N. envoy said government soldiers had fired on civilians and foreign aid workers trying to escape the region.

Alan Doss, the top U.N. envoy in Congo, said peacekeepers were forced to 'respond' after government soldiers fired on civilians and trapped foreign aid workers trying to leave Rutshuru, a strategic town north of Goma. He vowed to keep Rutshuru and other towns out of rebel hands.

Iraq to ask US to reopen talks on security pact

BAGHDAD - Iraq's government decided Tuesday to formally ask the United States to reopen negotiations on a proposed deal to keep American troops here past the end of the year. The U.S. suggested it may not be ready to offer more concessions.

That cast doubt on whether the agreement can win parliamentary approval by the end of 2008, when the U.N. mandate expires - and with it the legal basis for the U.S. military to operate in Iraq.

Sudan: At least 3 Chinese oil workers killed

KHARTOUM, Sudan - The kidnappers of nine Chinese oil workers in Sudan killed at least three hostages Tuesday after being spooked by a surveillance plane, a Sudanese government official said, contradicting Chinese claims of a botched rescue.

Initially the Sudanese government said five had been killed, but the undersecretary at the Foreign Ministry, Mutrif Siddiq, told reporters only three of the Chinese workers were confirmed dead and three others were injured and receiving medical care. Three more remain missing.

Japan says Kim Jong II probably still in hospital

SEOUL, South Korea - North Korean leader Kim Jong Il appears to have recovered enough from a stroke to run the country without difficulty, South Korea's spy chief said Tuesday, but Japan's prime minister said he likely is issuing orders from a hospital bed.

Prime Minister Taro Aso told lawmakers in Tokyo that his government had information that Kim likely remains hospitalized.

- From wire reports