BBC news with Iain Purdon.

On the second day of a major offensive against the Taliban in the southern Afghan province of Helmand, NATO-led forces have killed 12 civilians by mistake. A NATO statement said two rockets veered off target. Martin Patience reports.

According to military officials, the two rockets were supposed to target insurgents who they say were firing from a compound. But the weapons missed their target by 300 meters, killing the civilians in Marjah. In a statement, NATO-led forces say they've suspended the use of this particular rocket while they investigate. Despite the deaths, commanders say the operation is proceeding as planned. Progress, however, has been slow in Marjah town as forces clear homemade bombs and booby traps from roads and compounds.

The American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has urged Iran to reconsider what she called its “dangerous policy decisions”. In a speech in the Gulf state of Qatar, she said Iran's actions over its nuclear program were leaving the international community little choice but to impose tougher sanctions. Mrs Clinton is trying to rally regional support for such a move.

The American Vice President Joe Biden has said that he believed China will back the possible sanctions against Iran. Such a move would mark a change in approach by China, which is a permanent member of the UN Security Council. Speaking on NBC's Meet the Press, Mr Biden said he was confident it could be achieved.

"We have the support of everyone from Russia to Europe and I believe we will get the support of China to continue to impose sanctions on Iran to isolate them, to make it clear that in fact they cannot move forward. I think we've made significant progress."

The President of Kenya Mwai Kibaki has refused to allow the Prime Minister Raila Odinga to suspend two ministers over corruption allegations. Mr Odinga had taken action after auditors found that millions of dollars had been diverted from public programs. From Nairobi, here is Will Ross.

If you ever wanted a sign of just how fractious and uncoordinated Kenya's coalition government was, this is it. First of all, Kenya's Prime Minister Raila Odinga announced the suspension of the Agriculture Minister William Ruto and Education Minister Samuel Ongeri. He said two recent investigations into corruption laid credible foundations for the ministers to be investigated. Just hours later, President Mwai Kibaki said the two ministers were still in office because he had not been consulted, and because he said the prime minister did not have the power to sack ministers.

The head of the UN anti-drugs office in West Africa, Alexandre Schmidt, has said addiction is now a serious problem in the region, which has become a transit route for cocaine trafficked from South America to Europe. Speaking ahead of the drugs conference in Senegal, Mr Schmidt said trafficking is also a threat to the rule of law and governance there. Analysts estimate almost 1/3 of the cocaine destined for Europe now passes through West Africa.

World news from the BBC.

The far-right British National Party has abolished its whites-only membership policy to allow black and Asian people to join. The party, which wants a halt to immigration into Britain, voted to change its constitution at an extraordinary general meeting after it was threatened with legal action by the government-funded Equality and Human Rights Commission. The party's leader Nick Griffin said people from ethnic minorities would be welcomed as long as they agreed with BNP principles. He said the party should no longer be branded as racist.

The oldest death row inmate in the United States has died of natural causes at the age of 94. The prison authorities in Arizona said Viva Leroy Nash died at the state prison in Florence. Nash was sentenced to death in 1983 for shooting a salesman after escaping from jail, but he staved off his execution with a series of appeals.

The best-selling British thriller writer and former champion jockey Dick Francis has died at the age of 89. His 42 novels including Forfeit and Whip Hand have been translated into 30 languages and have sold tens of millions of copies worldwide. Here is Nick Higham.

Dick Francis was one of those rare people who succeed in two quite different fields, a top jockey who became an author with worldwide sales of more than 60 million. As a professional jockey after World War Two, he rode more than 300 winners. When he retired in 1957, he wrote his autobiography, and his first novel Dead Cert was published in 1962. Another followed each year. The books provided readers with plenty of intrigue but no sex. They were once desCRIbed as “CRIme novels for gentlefolk”.

A team from the United States has won the oldest and most prestigious competition in sailing, the America's Cup. The BMW Oracle trimaran beat the defending champions, the Swiss-owned team Alinghi, off the coast of Valencia in Spain. It was the first time in 18 years that America had won the Cup, which it had traditionally dominated.

BBC news.

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