KABUL, Afghanistan

Number of civilians killed declines in ‘promising trend’

The number of Afghan civilians killed has dropped 36 percent so far this year compared with last, the U.N. said Wednesday, the first time the death toll has declined over multiple months since the United Nations started keeping track.

The senior U.N. envoy for the country, Jan Kubis, called the trend promising but cautioned that too many civilians were still being caught up in the violence as insurgents fight Afghan and foreign forces.

Kubis’ office said 579 civilians were killed in the first four months of this year, down from 898 killed in the same period of 2011. The number of wounded dropped from 1,373 to 1,216 in the January to April period.

SEATTLE

Suspect in killing of four critical after shooting himself

A gunman killed four people in Seattle on Wednesday – three at a cafe and another in a carjacking – before he apparently shot himself as officers closed in following a citywide manhunt, authorities said.

He was listed in critical condition at a local hospital.

Police searching for the suspect in the first shooting near the University of Washington also had to respond to another fatal attack near the city’s downtown.

They say a man killed a woman in an apparent carjacking and fled in a black SUV. Authorities later said they believe one man was responsible for both attacks.

“At this time, we feel pretty confident that we have the suspect,” said Assistant Seattle Police Chief Nick Metz.

MIAMI

Infection a threat to man whose face was chewed off

A homeless man whose face was mostly chewed off in a bizarre, vicious attack faces a bigger threat from infection than from the injuries themselves, according to experts on facial reconstruction. He will require months of treatment to rebuild his features and be permanently disfigured.

Though gruesome, such severe facial injuries are generally not life threatening. The most serious risk to Ronald Poppo as he remained hospitalized Wednesday were germs that may have been introduced by the bites of the naked man who attacked him. One of the 65-year-old’s eyes was also gouged out.

It’s not clear why Poppo was attacked Saturday afternoon by 31-year-old Rudy Eugene alongside a busy highway.

A witness described Eugene ripping at Poppo’s face with his mouth and growling at a Miami police officer who ordered him to get off the homeless man. The officer shot and killed Eugene.

— From news service reports