World

"Naturally," Russia will aim its missiles at European targets againif the US pushes ahead with plans to build a defense shield on Czech and Polish soil, President Vladimir Putin said Sunday. He told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera that Russia would not be responsible for any escalation of an arms race because "it was not us who started altering the strategic balance." Voters in three more Czech towns near the proposed radar site for the antimissile system became the latest to reject it Saturday, bringing the total so far to five. The nonbinding referendum isn't expected to affect whether it eventually is built.

Al Qaeda's commander in Fallujah, Iraq, was shot to death over the weekend as local Sunnis widened their conflict with the terrorist organization. US forces also were targeting militants of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi army in Baghdad, killing four men who were setting up rocket launchers aimed at the Green Zone, the home of Iraq's government and the US Embassy.

Despite losing almost 100 men in separate incidents over the weekend, the Taliban vowed to stage a "massive" offensive against NATO troops in Afghanistan and warned all Muslim civilians to keep their distance. About 60 of the Taliban casualties came when a heavily laden boat sank in the Helmand River while attempting to flee coalition forces, reports said.

One or more terrorists detonated a car bomb outside the residence of Somalia's prime minister Sunday, and it was not immediately clear whether he was at home at the time. Authorities also had no early information on deaths as a result of the blast, but initial reports said injuries were numerous. The incident capped a weekend in which US Navy jets bombed Islamist militant encampments in northern Somalia. Regional authorities said eight foreigners, among them one American, were killed. But a jihadist group, the Young Mujahideen Movement, denied it had taken any casualties.

Almost 1,000 people were hurt and 128 others were arrested over the weekend in Rostock, Germany, in some of the worst violence to date before a Group of Eight summit. Organizers of a week-long schedule of antiglobalism protests condemned the trouble as "inexcusable." The summit opens Wednesday at nearby Heiligendamm, where leaders of the world's industrialized democracies will be protected by a 12-mile-long security fence and 16,000 police guards.

Supporters of leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez staged a counterdemonstration Saturday in Caracas after days of protests against his closure of RCTV, the nation's most popular broadcasting station. Addressing the rally, Chávez threatened again to shut down other privately owned stations "for violations of the Constitution, the laws, for ... terrorism, for many things." RCTV, however, has continued to produce news programming through the YouTube Internet site and via a broadcaster in neighboring Colombia.

Six employees of an aluminum-smelting operation in Nigeria's oil delta were kidnapped by militants Sunday. All the hostages are Russian, their employer said. The seizure followed declaration of a one-month truce by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), the militant group responsible for most kidnappings there. It said the cease-fire would give new President Umaru YarAdua time to "ruminate" on how to bring "a just peace" to the region. MEND freed six people it had taken captive May 1 but did not promise to stop taking foreigners hostage.

Army troops were pulling down unstable buildings in southwesternChina's Yunnan Province Sunday after a strong earthquake struck the region, killing at least three people, injuring hundreds more, and forcing an estimated 120,000 residents from their homes. Continuous aftershocks were rattling the tea-growing area near the border with Laos, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

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