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Aleppo attacks kill more than 100 children in recent weeks

Boys make their way through the rubble of damaged buildings in Aleppo's rebel-held area of al Kalaseh. Credit: Reuters

More than 100 children were among 338 people killed in Syria's besieged eastern Aleppo in the last few weeks, the World Health Organisation has said while making an appeal for the attacks to stop.

The WHO said 106 children had died and a further 846 people injured, including 261 children, in attacks that have included internationally condemned airstrikes on two trauma hospitals and bread queues and has seen incendiary and bunker-buster bombs used in an urban environment.

"We are asking for four things: stop the killing, stop attacks on health care, let the sick and wounded out and let the aid in," a senior official said.

The situation in Aleppo was described on Wednesday as worse than a slaughterhouse by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who said the around-the-clock attacks on hospitals, clinics, ambulances and medical staff amounted to a "war against Syrian health workers".

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Two Van Gogh paintings stolen in 2002 found in mafia raid

Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen, left, and View of the Sea at Scheveningen were stolen in 2002. Credit: Van Gogh Museum

Two Vincent Van Gogh paintings stolen 14 years ago from the Dutch museum dedicated to his work have been recovered by Italian police in a raid on the mafia in Naples.

The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam said the Dutch artist's paintings had been removed from their frames but appeared largely undamaged.

The works, 1884's "Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen" and 1882's "View of the Sea at Scheveningen", are both from relatively early in Van Gogh's career.

They were stolen by thieves who broke into the museum in December 2002 using a ladder before escaping by sliding down a rope.

The police investigation began in 2002 after two paintings were snatched from Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum by thieves in a daring robbery. Credit: Reuters

Two men were later caught and convicted of the theft but the paintings were not recovered.

Italian financial police confirmed the "priceless" paintings were seized along with "assets worth tens of millions of euros" from a Camorra mafia group it said was involved in international cocaine trafficking.

Van Gogh Museum director Axel Rueger hailed the surprise recovery, saying "They're safe. I no longer dared to hope that I could ever say that, after so many years."

It was not immediately clear when the paintings would be returned to the museum, which is one of Amsterdam's top tourist attractions.

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