World

Israeli military units struck deep inside southern Gaza Tuesday, in what observers said was the widest use of force since Hamas seized control of the strip in June. Five Palestinian militants were killed; another died after an airstrike in northern Gaza. Israel had warned that such an operation was imminent, but it also said the time was not yet right. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas open the first formal peace talks in seven years Wednesday.

Terrorists exploded two car bombs only minutes apart in Algeria's capital Tuesday, killing at least 45 people and heavily damaging the offices (above) of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. The agency said 12 of its staffers were missing, perhaps buried in rubble from one of the blasts. Police said they suspected Al Qaeda was behind the bombings, finding significance in the fact that they took place on the 11th of the month. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for April 11 attacks in Algiers that killed 33 people.

NATO and Afghan troops searched for remaining Taliban militants Tuesday after retaking the key town of Musa Qala. Afghanistan's Defense Ministry said the next two days would be crucial in installing "governance" there. Taliban losses in the operation, which began last Friday, were heavy. But the militants still control three other areas of volatile Helmand Province.

Government leaders in Serbia said they'll ask the International Court of Justice to block a declaration of independence for Kosovo. Kosovo's majority-Albanian political parties were preparing to meet Tuesday on forming a coalition government that would proclaim independence early next year. Russia, Serbia's ally on the UN Security Council, warned that it would demand the annulment of any such move.

A strategic town in eastern Congo that was captured last week by government troops fell back into rebel hands Tuesday. The rebels, who are loyal to dissident Gen. Laurent Nkunda, also seized an outlying village in heavy fighting. Nkunda claims his followers are in the area to protect its ethnic Tutsi minority against Hutu militants from neighboring Rwanda.

In an about-face, Cuba's communist government said it will sign two legally binding UN accords on political and civil rights, opening itself to closer scrutiny. The protocols require freedom of expression and assembly and the right of citizens to travel abroad. Cuba signed the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights but until now had refused to endorse the protocols. As the announcement was made, however, democracy activists rallying in Havana on International Human Rights Day were roughed up by government supporters, forced into cars, and driven away.

By one vote, members of parliament in Ukraine failed to confirm the consensus candidate for prime minister Tuesday. Yulia Tymo-shenko (l.), a leading figure in the 2004 "Orange Revolution," was nominated to return to her former post after orange parties won a bare majority in parliament in September's election. Her forces moved immediately for a follow-up vote, but that also did not pass.

An IBM supercomputer capable of 14 trillion calculations per second will be donated to a research institute in South Africa, the company announced. The $2 million Blue Gene/P system is scheduled for installation early next year and will become the most powerful computer on the continent. The Center for High Performance Computing in Cape Town, where it will be housed, helps to develop products and services for economic growth.

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