Israel's government suspended plans to open a "safe passage" highway that would speed Palestinians between the Gaza Strip and West Bank in its latest response to Monday's terrorist bombing, which targeted shoppers at a mall in the coastal city of Netanya. The road, which crosses Israel proper, was to have reopened next week for the first time in almost five years as part of a deal brokered by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. An Israeli spokesman said, "Safe passage means it has to be safe for both sides." In another move, two more Palestinian militants died in an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip, the second in two days.
Five suspected Muslim terrorists died in a gunfight with Syrian security forces and three others killed themselves by detonating explosive belts rather than surrender, the state news agency SANA reported. It said the clash took place at a farm in central Syria and that the police also found a cache of weapons at the site. The incident was the second in two days involving suspected terrorists and security police and the third since last weekend. On Sunday, two militants were killed in a clash in the city of Aleppo. Information from that raid led to the discovery of a bombmaking laboratory in the city Wednesday. Syria has been under heavy pressure from the US to crack down on radicals before they can make their way into neighboring Iraq.
The political challenges confronting embattled Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki worsened Thursday, with at least three of his choices for Cabinet posts rejecting their nominations. Thirteen others proposed for deputy minister slots also declined. All are from parties that are partners in his coalition government. Most of them complained that Kibaki hadn't consulted their party leaders before making the nominations. Kibaki has struggled to bring political reform to Kenya in the face of ongoing corruption scandals, and last month 57 percent of voters rejected his proposed new constitution.
A retired general, one of the three most-wanted war-crimes fugitives sought by the UN tribunal for the Balkans, was captured Wednesday night in the Canary Islands. Ante Gotovina, a Croat, was to be taken to The Hague, where the tribunal sits. He has been indicted for planning the killings or expulsion of more than 150,000 Serbs from Croatia during the former Yugo-slav republic's 1991-95 war. However, unlike the other two most-wanted fugitives, Bosnians Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic, Gotovina is not charged with genocide.
Seven more people were killed and dozens of other were hurt in another bomb explosion in Bangladesh - the second this month and fifth since Oct. 3. Police in Netrokona, 80 miles north of Dhaka, the capital, said one of the injured apparently also intended to explode a bomb, but failed. The attack was blamed on the same banned Islamist militant group, Jumatul Mujahideen Bangla-desh, that is suspected of the earlier explosions. It is attempting to force strict sharia law on the South Asian nation.
Plumes of gas and steam burst through the crater of a volcano on Vanuatu Thursday and shot an estimated 10,000 feet into the sky, and vegetation around its crater appeared dead and covered in ash. Medical clinics on the island were empty, and ships lay at anchor offshore to take thousands of residents to safety if the situation worsened. Vulcanologists from New Zealand who are monitoring Mount Manaro said there was no evidence yet that it was about to spew molten magma but cautioned that it "is capable of bigger eruptions." The activity began Nov. 27. Manaro has erupted before, in 1995, causing no human casualties. The island on which it lies, Ambae, served as the inspiration for the idyllic Bali Hai in the James Michener novel, "South Pacific."