12 slain were Mexican agents

MORELIA, Mexico - Twelve people tortured and killed in a cartel-plagued Mexican state were federal agents investigating organized crime, the government said Tuesday, marking one of the boldest attacks on federal forces since President Felipe Calderon launched his war on drugs.

Mexico's national security spokesman, Monte Alejandro Rubido, said the 11 men and one woman were off duty when they were ambushed and abducted by members of the La Familia drug cartel in Calderon's home state of Michoacan, which has been a center of his crackdown on organized crime.

Their bodies were found piled up along a mountain highway late Monday near the town of La Huacana.

Helicopter shot down

KABUL - A civilian helicopter ferrying humanitarian aid was shot down Tuesday in a southern Afghan province where fighting with the Taliban is raging, killing all six Ukrainian crew members and a child on the ground, officials said. Two U.S. Marines and an Italian soldier died in the latest clashes.

Iran hangs 13 rebels

TEHRAN, Iran - Iran hanged 13 members of a Sunni Muslim rebel group Tuesday convicted of bombings and killings in the country's restive southeast near the borders with Pakistan and Afghanistan, the state news agency reported.

The mass execution was the largest ever carried out against members of Jundallah and was likely meant as a warning to the group, which is composed of Sunnis from the Baluchi ethnic minority. They have waged a low-level insurgency in recent years, accusing the mostly Shiite and Persian Iranian government of persecution.

General: We're ready for Kim

WASHINGTON - The top U.S. military commander in Korea said Tuesday that U.S. and South Korean forces are prepared for 'anything North Korea can throw at us,' regardless of the state of leader Kim Jong Il's health or of internal North Korean politics.

General Walter 'Skip' Sharp told reporters that Kim should stop threatening the world with nuclear and missile tests and instead take care of his people and abandon nuclear weapons programs.