A daily summary of top stories around the world.
A tidal wave that witnesses described as almost three stories high flooded the Solomon Islands early Monday, triggered by a powerful undersea earthquake. At least 13 people died, a number that was expected to rise because many others were reported missing. Thousands more fled coastal areas for higher ground, their communities washed out to sea. The quake occurred 220 miles offshore and brought a tsunami alert that extended across the Pacific Ocean. It was lifted after sea levels rose only a few inches.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's invitation to Arab leaders for a regional peace conference was scorned Monday by Syria and by a Palestinian Authority spokesman, the Jerusalem Post reported. In its first comment on the offer, Saudi Arabia's government said Israel should first withdraw from Arab territory and allow the creation of a Palestinian state.
Civilian residents of Somalia's capital were warned to evacuate Monday as hundreds of Ethio-pian troops returned to join a new offensive against Islamist militants. Amid the escalating violence in Mogadishu, the government said it doesn't recognize the latest negotiated cease-fire and blamed an Al Qaeda cell for trying to assassinate Army chief Abdullahi Ali Omar Monday.
Tamil separatist rebels were blamed for a bomb blast aboard a bus in eastern Sri Lanka Monday that killed at least 16 people and wounded 25 others. It was not clear whether one of the passengers detonated the explosive, but it went off as passengers disembarked so the bus could be searched at an Army checkpoint. Hours earlier, six civilians were shot to death nearby in an incident that the Army and the rebels blamed on each other.
Five more peacekeepers from the African Union (AU) died in the worst single attack to date in Sudan's Darfur region, their mission's spokesman said Monday. The victims were guarding a water distribution site when unidentified gunmen attacked. Three of the latter also were killed in the resulting firefight. Last weekend, 60 Arab tribesmen were shot to death in the same area. The latest casualties bring the number of AU dead to 16 since the mission deployed in Darfur in late 2004.
Another day of demonstrations in Ukraine's capital helped to pile pressure on President Viktor Yushchenko not to disband parliament and call a new election. Supporters of his bitter rival, pro-Russian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, set up a tent camp outside the legislature and protested that another vote would waste money. Despite the rally, Yushchenko was to consult Monday with parliament leaders on whether to pull the plug, saying he'd do so "if our negotiations are not fruitful."
Kidnappers seized two more foreigners at gunpoint in Nigeria's oil delta as they worked at a construction site, in the second such incident in three days. Both hostages are Lebanese, authorities said. On Saturday, a Scottish national was captured aboard an oil platform 40 miles at sea. The number of foreigners seized in the region since Jan. 1 is approaching 70, reports said.
Citing "an improvement in the security situation," Fiji's military turned over all checkpoints to unarmed police Monday, four months after seizing power in a nonviolent coup. A state of emergency remains in effect, however, a spokesman said.
Even the cabs of trucks are covered by a ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces that went into effect Monday across Wales, making it the second area in Britain to take the step. Violators can be fined up to $100 on the spot. A ban already is in place in Scotland. Northern Ireland's is scheduled to take effect at the end of April. England is due to follow suit July 1.