VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Tens of thousands of people have answered Pope Francis' call and massed in St. Peter's Square for a 4-hour prayer vigil for peace in Syria.
It was believed to be one of the largest rallies in the West against proposed U.S.-led military action against Syria's ruling regime following the Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack near Damascus.
Rainbow "Peace" flags fluttered in the evening breeze and religious leaders from a variety of Christian and non-Christian denominations joined cardinals, politicians and ordinary folk for the evening of prayer, hymns and meditation presided over by Francis.
The pope entered the square from the basilica steps, foregoing his usual drive through in his open car -- an indication of the sobriety of the evening, which capped a day of fasting for the pontiff.
Ready for war: Militants in Pakistan's most populous province are said to be training for what they expect will be an ethnic-based civil war in neighboring Afghanistan after foreign forces withdraw in 16 months, according to analysts and a senior militant.
In the past two years the number of Punjab-based militants deploying to regions bordering on Afghanistan has tripled and is now in the thousands, says analyst Mansur Mehsud. He runs the FATA Institute, an Islamabad-based think tank studying the mix of militant groups that operate in Pakistan's tribal belt running along much of the 1,600-mile Afghan-Pakistan border.
Flight delayed: Officials at Cairo's international airport say a flight to London was delayed after security services received a tip concerning a possible bomb attack on the plane. The officials said an anonymous caller told state security by telephone that two passengers on the EgyptAir flight were suicide-bombers who had planned an attack.
Staying united: Congo's president vowed Saturday to keep the vast Central African country united amid a rebel insurgency in the east, saying that government troops were ready to resume fighting if upcoming peace talks stall yet again. In a rare 25-minute speech, President Joseph Kabila said that the Congolese army would defend the country and criticized those "who seek all means to destabilize it."
His comments came at a conference he organized to promote national unity, though several opposition parties boycotted the event, just days before government negotiators are to return to the Ugandan capital for renewed talks.