KINSHASA, Congo (AP) -- Fabulous minerals. Magnificent music. Great cuisine. A landscape that stretches from lush rain forest to Swiss-looking mountains. And a people still mired in violence and misery a half century after independence from Belgium.
Rising death tolls, military timetables slowed. Infighting in the partner government. War-weary allies packing up to leave - and others eyeing an exit.
Events this spring - from the battlefields of Helmand and Kandahar to the halls of Congress - have served as a reality check on the Afghan war, a grueling fight in a remote, inhospitable land that once harbored the masterminds of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.
The Taliban have proven resilient and won't be easily routed. Good Afghan government won't blossom any faster than flowers in the bleak Afghan deserts. Phrases like "transition to Afghan control" mask the enormous challenge ahead to make those words reality.
Five NATO service members died Tuesday from fighting in the south and east of Afghanistan, officials said, as Taliban militants ramp up attacks on Afghan and international security forces.
Authorities also said that 12 Afghan police officers and six civilians have died in attacks and bombings since early Monday.
The World Bank on Tuesday urged Mideast countries to invest more in their impoverished rural areas instead of relying on subsidies and mega-projects to alleviate inequalities in the region. The organization's recommendation, outlined in a report, underscored the shifting demographics of the region -- one where experts say rapidly expanding economies have shifted governments' focus to urban areas at the expense of the rural lands that for centuries formed the backbone of the region.
The United States is sending a senior envoy to Kyrgyzstan, where ethnic violence has killed at least 700 people and driven an estimated 200,000 people to neighboring Uzbekistan. The UN Commission for Human Rights says the wave of violence was planned in advance and orchestrated by opponents of the current government.
Cuba reacted angrily Tuesday to its inclusion on a U.S. list of countries that could be sanctioned for failing to fight human and child trafficking, calling it a "shameful slander" and part of Washington's efforts to justify its trade embargo.
Cuba is one of 13 countries put on notice Monday that they are not complying with the minimum international standards to eliminate the trade in human beings and sexual slavery, and could face U.S. penalties.
A Rwandan court is expected to rule Thursday on whether a jailed law professor from Minnesota should be freed on bail for health reasons, his family said Tuesday. Peter Erlinder, a professor at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, has been accused of violating Rwanda's laws against minimizing genocide. Erlinder was arrested May 28 while in the country to help with the legal defense of an opposition leader.
An Air India plane crashed near the southern Indian town of Mangalore Saturday morning. Of the 166 people on board 158 are feared dead. The crash occurred when the plane overshot the runway. All crew members died at the site.