India orders Pa. teen to be freed

JODHPUR, India - An Indian appeals court on Friday overturned the conviction of a U.S. teenager who had been accused of killing his mother while on vacation in western India.

The Rajasthan High Court ordered Joncarlo Patton's immediate release from a juvenile detention facility, according to Press Trust of India news agency. It was not immediately clear on what grounds the court overturned his conviction.

Patton was sentenced last year to three years in an Indian juvenile detention facility after he was found guilty of slitting his mother's throat at a desert resort in the western state of Rajasthan in August 2010. Prosecutors accused Patton of killing Cynthia Iannarelli, of Cecil, in western Pennsylvania, because he was traumatized over his parents' divorce.

Patton, who was 16 when he was arrested, has said he is innocent and has accused police of forcing him to confess. His father, Richard Patton, said the family was overjoyed at the court's decision. - AP

Al-Qaeda chief urges on Somalis

KAMPALA, Uganda - Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has released a new video in which he encourages Somalian militants to fight on despite the challenges.

In the video, reported Friday by the Site Intelligence Group that monitors militant activities, Zawahiri urges al-Shabab militants not to be deterred by U.S. drone attacks. It is Zawahiri's second video address to al-Shabab, which formally joined al-Qaeda in February.

Al-Shabab has increasingly come under pressure in recent times from regional armies and government forces that are pushing it from three sides inside Somalia.

- AP

Syria accused of blocking peace

DAMASCUS, Syria - A Syrian opposition leader said Friday that President Bashar al-Assad's regime is trying to destroy a U.N.-brokered peace plan for the country. The accusations came as security forces fanned out following twin suicide car bombings that killed 55 people in Damascus.

The bombings on Thursday fueled fears of a rising Islamic militant element among those seeking to oust Assad and dealt a further blow to international efforts to end the bloodshed.

During a news conference in Tokyo, Burhan Ghalioun, chief of the opposition Syrian National Council, said there would be no peaceful solution to the violence in Syria without "a threat of force against those who don't implement the plan."

- AP

S. Sudan police quit border zone

UNITED NATIONS - The United Nations said Friday that South Sudan has pulled its police force out of the disputed Abyei region on the border with Sudan.

The withdrawal Thursday follows a U.N. Security Council resolution last week threatening nonmilitary sanctions against both countries if they don't stop attacking each other and return to negotiations.

South Sudan won independence from Sudan last year as part of a 2005 peace treaty that ended decades of war that killed two million people. But the neighboring nations have been drawing closer to full-scale war in recent weeks over unresolved issues of oil revenues and their disputed border. - AP

Elsewhere:

A man wearing an Afghan army uniform shot dead a U.S. soldier in the east of the country, one of two NATO troops killed on Friday, military officials said. The shooting was the 15th incident this year in which Afghan soldiers or insurgents disguised in military uniforms have turned their weapons on foreign troops.