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Syria has entered a state of civil war with more than 4,000 people dead and an increasing number of soldiers defecting from the army to fight President Bashar Assad's regime, the UN's top human rights official has said.

Civil war has been the worst-case scenario in Syria since the revolt against Mr Assad began eight months ago.

Damascus has a web of allegiances that extends to Lebanon's powerful Hezbollah movement and Iran's Shiite theocracy, raising fears of a regional conflagration.

The assessment that the bloodshed in Syria has crossed into civil war came from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay.

The conflict has shown little sign of letting up. Activists reported up to 22 people killed on Thursday, adding to what has become a daily grind of violence.

"We are placing the (death toll) figure at 4,000 but really the reliable information coming to us is that it's much more than that," Ms Pillay said in Geneva.

"As soon as there were more and more defectors threatening to take up arms, I said this in August before the Security Council, that there's going to be a civil war," she added. "And at the moment, that's how I am characterising this."

 

David Cameron said that he has received assurances from Libyan leaders that captured fugitive Saif al-Islam will be tried in line with international standards.

Britain will offer "every assistance" to Libya's government to ensure Muammar Gaddafi's son is brought to justice over his role in the "barbaric" reign of terror, the Prime Minister added.

Al-Islam was seized in southern Libya with two aides, who were trying to smuggle him out to neighbouring Niger, officials confirmed.

Mr Cameron said: "The Libyan government's announcement of Seif al-Islam's arrest shows we are near the end of the final chapter of the Gaddafi regime.

"It is a great achievement for the Libyan people and must now become a victory for international justice too.

"He could have contributed to a more open and decent future for his country, but instead chose to lead a bloody and barbaric campaign against his own people. The fate of the Gaddafis should act as a warning to brutal dictators everywhere.

 

Low-cost airline Ryanair has announced a jump in profits but said passenger numbers will fall 10% this month as it grounds more planes this winter.

The Dublin-based operator posted profits of 544 million euro (£467.5 million) in the six months to September 30, an increase of 20%, as a 13% rise in average fares helped it offset a 37% hike in fuel costs.

The company is pulling 80 of its aircraft to reduce winter losses amid soaring fuel prices and expects traffic to fall 4% in the second half, with 500,000 fewer passengers flying in November.

The strategy will improve its full-year profit forecasts by 10% to 440 million euro (£378.2 million), reflecting a boost to its margins.

Ryanair, which has a fleet of 272 planes, said average fares rose as a result of a better mix of new routes and as competitors put up their prices in response to higher costs.

Revenues were up 24% to £2.7 billion, while passenger numbers rose 12% to 44.7 million.

Outspoken chief executive Michael O'Leary also hit out at BAA's decision to call for a judicial review into a ruling that it must sell Stansted Airport as "pointless".

He said: "These delays allow BAA Stansted to continue to charge excessive fees and generate monopoly profits, even as Stansted's traffic declines from less than 24 million passengers in 2007 to less than 18 million in 2011."

He called on the Competition Commission to end the "interminable delays" and force an early sale of the airport.

 

British aid agencies have raised £72 million for drought victims in East Africa, the highest total ever for a food crisis.

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) launched an appeal in July after Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and the Republic of South Sudan suffered one of the worst droughts in 60 years.

One hundred days since the appeal's launch, the total raised is the third largest in the charity's 45-year history.

More money has only been raised by the tsunami earthquake appeal of December 2004 (£390 million) and Haiti earthquake of January 2010 (£107 million), the charity said.

It is also the largest total for any African appeal, and the highest for one where conflict was a principle cause of a disaster.

The disaster left more than 12 million people in need of food, water and emergency healthcare.

 

Afghan intelligence officials have broken up a cell which was plotting to kill President Hamid Karzai, arresting six people in Kabul whom they claimed were affiliated with al Qaida and the Haqqani militant group, it has been revealed.

The cell included one of Mr Karzai's bodyguards as well as a professor at Kabul University and three college students, intelligence service spokesman Latifullah Mashal said.

Mr Mashal described the cell as the "most sophisticated and educated group in Kabul" and said it had assisted Pakistani militants sent to the Afghan capital to carry out terror attacks. He did not say when they were arrested.

He said the group, which was also allegedly planning attacks in Kabul, the US and Europe, were recruited by an Egyptian and a Bangladeshi based in Pakistan.

Afghan officials have been increasingly vocal in publicly accusing Pakistan and its ISI intelligence agency of maintaining ties with militants, including the Haqqani group.

 

Plans to allow women in Saudi Arabia to vote and stand for election in local polls has been hailed as a "significant step forward" by Foreign Secretary William Hague.

He said the UK would examine the detail of the reforms announced by King Abdullah "and how they will work in practice".

The changes, agreed with senior clerics, will come into force for elections in 2015 and arrive amid internal pressure in the deeply socially conservative country.

Women's groups in the Muslim kingdom have also taken inspiration from the Arab Spring uprisings to openly defy a ban on females driving.

"We refuse to marginalise the role of women in Saudi society and in every aspect, within the rules of Sharia," the king said.

 

Plans to allow women in Saudi Arabia to vote and stand for election in local polls has been hailed as a "significant step forward" by Foreign Secretary William Hague.

He said the UK would examine the detail of the reforms announced by King Abdullah "and how they will work in practice".

The changes, agreed with senior clerics, will come into force for elections in 2015 and arrive amid internal pressure in the deeply socially conservative country.

Women's groups in the Muslim kingdom have also taken inspiration from the Arab Spring uprisings to openly defy a ban on females driving.

"We refuse to marginalise the role of women in Saudi society and in every aspect, within the rules of Sharia," the king said.

 

Google has opened up its Google Plus social network to everyone after testing it with a limited audience for 12 weeks.

Google said in a blog post that it will now let anyone sign up for Google Plus.

Previously the service was only available by invitation, though it got easier to join in recent weeks.

The company also added a search capability to Google Plus that will let users sift through posts on the site.

 

 

Nigeria's president vowed to bring terrorism "under control" as he visited the bombed headquarters of the United Nations in his country, a day after at least 19 people died in an attack claimed by a radical Muslim sect.

President Goodluck Jonathan walked amid the debris left behind after Friday's attack in Nigeria's capital, Abuja.

Mr Jonathan toured the shattered reception area of the building, where a suicide bomber crashed an explosive-laden car before detonating his bombs.

He promised to address the threat posed by the sect known locally as Boko Haram, though so far his weakened government has been unable to stop the group from carrying out assassinations and bombings at will in Africa's most populous nation.

"Boko Haram is a local group linked up with terrorist activities," Mr Jonathan told journalists gathered at the site. "As a government, we are working on this and we will bring it under control."

The president did not elaborate on the statement as his aides hustled him off into a convoy of armoured Mercedes Benz sedans, police trucks and motorcycles.

Security appeared tighter than normal in Abuja, about 550 miles from the country's megacity of Lagos.

 

 

 

The Norwegian man who confessed to killing 69 people at an island youth camp has reconstructed his actions for police back at the crime scene.

Police took Anders Behring Breivik back to the island of Utoya on Saturday for a hearing about the July 22 terror attacks.

He shot the victims dead on the lake island near Oslo after killing another eight people in the capital with a bomb.

The 32-year-old described the killings in close detail during an eight-hour tour on the island, prosecutor Paal-Fredrik Hjort Kraby told a news conference in Oslo.

"The suspect showed he wasn't emotionally unaffected by being back at Utoya ... but didn't show any remorse," Hjort Kraby said.

Images of the reconstruction published in the Norwegian daily VG show Breivik simulating shots into the water, where teenagers tried to escape from him.