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WORLD: Amnesty Intl. condemns rise in Saudi beheadings

Amnesty Intl. condemns rise in Saudi beheadings

CAIRO -- Amnesty International is condemning what it says is a sharp rise in beheadings in Saudi Arabia and is urging authorities in the kingdom to halt executions.

Amnesty said in a Friday statement that the kingdom has executed at least 27 people this year. That's equal to the total number put to death in all of 2010. The rights group says more than 100 others are on death row. Many of them are foreigners.

The group highlighted the case of two brothers sentenced to death in 1998 for murder and at ''imminent risk of execution.'' Amnesty says they had no access to lawyers.

Saudi Arabia follows a strict interpretation of Islam under which people convicted of murder, drug trafficking, rape and armed robbery can be executed -- usually with a sword.

CIA chief on visit to repair Pakistan ties

ISLAMABAD -- CIA Director Leon Panetta met over dinner Friday with Pakistan's spy chief and army head for talks on how to repair ties between the two countries that were fractured by the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden, a Pakistani and a U.S. official said.

Panetta's visit was his first to Pakistan since the unilateral American operation on May 2 killed the al-Qaida leader in a Pakistani army town, triggering an angry backlash by the powerful military. It is likely to be his last before he becomes the next U.S. defense secretary.

American officials have said they want to rebuild a relationship vital to their fight against al-Qaida and their efforts to wind down the war in Afghanistan, but progress has been slow amid suspicions by some in Washington that elements within the security establishment here were sheltering bin Laden.

Syrian troops sweep through north; 32 dead

YAYLADAGI, Turkey -- Elite Syrian forces moved swiftly through the country's restive north on Friday, raining tank shells on rebellious towns, torching farmland and shooting protesters who tried to tear down a poster of President Bashar Assad, activists and refugees said.

At least 32 people were killed, activists said, and undaunted protests extended to every major city.

The leader of neighboring Turkey, angered by violence that has sent more than 4,000 Syrians streaming across the border, accused the Assad regime of ''savagery.''