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Feb. 11, 2013 at 12:14 PM   |   Comments

Pope Benedict XVI to resign, cites health

VATICAN CITY, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- Pope Benedict XVI said Monday he will resign Feb. 28 because his health forced him "to recognize my incapacity" in leading the Catholic Church.

"After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry," Benedict, 85, who was elected pope April 19, 2005, said in a statement.

"[In] today's world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith ... both strength of mind and body are necessary ... which in the last few months has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me," the pope said.

The pope's announcement caught church officials by surprise, ANSA reported.

Italian Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, said Benedict's announcement was a "bolt out of the blue."

Acknowledging the gravity of his decision, the pontiff said, "I renounce the ministry of bishop of Rome, successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the cardinals on [April 19, 2005], in such a way, that as from [Feb. 28, 2013,] at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a conclave to elect the new supreme pontiff will have to be convoked."


Shots fired in courthouse; some injured

WILMINGTON, Del., Feb. 11 (UPI) -- A gunman opened fire at the New Castle County Courthouse in Wilmington, Del., Monday, wounding five people, including a police officer, state police said.

Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams said the shooter was killed, the Wilmington News Journal reported.

Philly.com reported the suspected gunman killed his wife before shooting the others, although it wasn't clear whether she was shot in the courthouse or elsewhere.

There were no immediate details of the injuries to people hit by gunfire.

Ferris Wharton, a public defender and former chief deputy attorney general, said an employee in his office reported seeing a woman dead in the lobby, the News Journal said.

State Police spokesman Paul Shavack said Capitol Police, who shot and killed the gunman, said the shooter was in his late 20s to early 30s. Police were trying to determine his identity.


Mississippi, Alabama hit by tornadoes

HATTIESBURG, Miss., Feb. 11 (UPI) -- More than a dozen tornadoes hit Mississippi and Alabama, including one that moved through Hattiesburg, Miss., and injured at least 53 people, officials said.

The tornadoes followed a weekend blizzard that shut down much of the Northeast, which was coping Monday with freezing rain in many areas.

The Hattiesburg tornado, damaging an area near the University of Southern Mississippi, was among twisters that touched down Sunday from southern Mississippi to southwestern Alabama, AccuWeather.com reported.

The university campus and a nearby high school were damaged along with areas throughout Hattiesburg, officials said.

Seven counties in Mississippi reported tornado damage, CNN reported.


Border gate blast kills 7, injures 30

ISTANBUL, Turkey, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- A car bomb exploded at a police checkpoint on the Turkish-Syrian border Monday, killing at least seven people and injuring 30, the mayor of a nearby town said.

Huseyin Sanverdi, the mayor of the nearby town of Reyhanli, Turkey, said a vehicle bearing Syrian plates and packed with explosives blew up at the Cilvegozu gate in the southern province of Hatay, Today's Zaman reported.

Sanverdi said four of the dead were Turkish, while the others were Syrian nationals.

The explosion took place in the "no-mans-land" between the Turkish and the Syrian gates.

Separately, in Syria rebel forces took control of the dam over the Euphrates dam at al-Tabaqa, the British newspaper The Guardian reported.

Mataz Suheil, a spokesman for the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the rebels were largely from Jabhat al-Nusra, a jihadist group considered a terrorist organization by the United States.

The dam is considered strategically important for energy and agriculture.

The Syrian Network for Human Rights reported 76 deaths across Syria Sunday, including six children. The bulk of the deaths were in Deir al-Zor, Aleppo and the Damascus area.


Crashed copter was filming reality show

ACTON, Calif., Feb. 11 (UPI) -- The helicopter that crashed in California this weekend killing three people was filming a reality TV show for the Discovery Channel, network officials said.

"A production company was shooting a show for Discovery Channel when this tragic accident occurred," Discovery said in a statement. "We are all cooperating fully with authorities. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families."

Eyeworks officials also expressed their "deepest sympathies to the families of those involved."

"We can confirm that a helicopter crash occurred this morning while shooting a new series for a cable network, which resulted tragically in three fatalities," Eyeworks said in a statement. "We are cooperating fully with the authorities."

The crash occurred about 3:30 a.m. Sunday while a crew was shooting for a military-themed, unscripted show from Eyeworks at the Polsa Rosa Ranch at Acton, Variety reported.

Los Angeles County Fire dispatcher Robert Diaz said everyone on board was killed, Variety said. The names of the victims had not been released and the cause of the crash was being investigated.

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