AFGHANISTAN

Pro-West candidate leads, faces runoff

A pro-Western candidate has emerged from the April 5 presidential contest with the most votes but must compete in a runoff election, Afghan election officials said Saturday.

After three weeks of counting, the Independent Election Commission unveiled the final results of the country's third presidential race since the 2001 U.S.-backed invasion to dislodge the Taliban.

Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister who was a top opposition leader during the tenure of outgoing President Hamid Karzai, was the leading vote-getter with 44.9 percent. Ashraf Ghani, a former finance minister and World Bank economist, came in second with 31.5 percent.

Barring a major change when results are certified May 14, Abdullah and Ghani will move on to a second round of balloting because neither received at least 50 percent of the vote, officials said. - Washington Post

SYRIA

Air raid kills six

A makeshift bomb dropped from a government helicopter killed at least six people, including two children, in a rebel-held area in northern Syria on Sunday, activists said. President Bashar al-Assad's forces have used barrel bombs to devastating effect against opposition areas in Syria. The weapons - barrels packed with explosives and scraps of metal and pushed out of helicopters - cannot be precisely targeted, and have caused widespread civilian casualties. Saturday's air raid took place in the northwest province of Idlib, activists said. - AP
BRITAIN

Titanic letter sells

A letter from a passenger on the Titanic, written hours before the ship hit an iceberg and sank in 1912, sold at auction Saturday for $200,000. It was written by British survivors Esther Hart and her 7-year-old daughter, Eva, who had been on their way to start a new life in Canada. Auctioneers Henry Aldridge & Son said the price was believed to be a record for a Titanic letter. - Reuters