World

New missile strikes in Pakistan's volatile northwest tribal region killed at least eight people Monday, and suspicion fell on unmanned US drone aircraft for launching them. More than 30 such attacks have been carried out since August, targeting suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda militants, although American military spokesmen rarely confirm or deny responsibility. The strikes have been an irritant in US-Pakistan relations.

By unanimous vote, Russia's upper house of parliament said "yes" Monday to a constitutional amendment that extends the presidential term from four years to six. The measure passed the lower house last month and requires only President Dmitry Medvedev's signature to take effect. Medvedev is widely seen as a one-term place-holder for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who left as chief executive in May.

For the first time in 71 years, automotive giant Toyota expects to lose money, senior executives said Monday. They told a news briefing in Nagoya, Japan, that the company probably will report an operating loss of $1.7 billion when its fiscal year ends in March, blaming a "far faster, wider, and deeper" drop in sales than expected. Initially, Toyota had forecast a $14 billion net profit for the same span, but later lowered that to $6 billion.

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A second week of intense fighting over the Tamil rebel capital began Monday, Sri Lanka's military said, claiming that soldiers killed 66 people and wounded at least 126 others. Spokesmen denied rebel claims that 75 soldiers had died in weekend combat. Even if the capital, Kilinochchi, falls, the chief of the rebels' political wing said his side would continue fighting.

Riot police beat up journalists in Nepal's capital Monday as they marched in protest against the smashing of a publishing company's offices by activists from the ruling Maoist Party. The latter incident took place Sunday in Katmandu when dozens of Maoists forced their way into the English-language Nepali Times, breaking windows, punching staff members, and ransacking files. Twelve journalists were hurt. The newspaper has been critical of the former rebels on grounds that although they're now in the political mainstream, they have not discontinued intimidation tactics. The US and the UN condemned the incident.

Government soldiers were among the 12 people found dead in Mexico's Guerrero State Sunday in another incident of drug-related violence. Nine of the victims had been decapitated and left on a street where a religious procession was to take place, authorities said. Late last week, President Felipe Calderón rejected a suggestion that he could bring an early end to the violence by seeking a de facto truce with traffickers.

A soon-to-be completed upscale shopping mall in Caracas, Vene-zuela, will be seized by the government and put to other uses, President Hugo Chávez announced on his weekly TV program Sunday night. He said the mall, which takes up a full city block, is inconsistent with his socialist experiment and serves only to clog an already crowded section of the capital. "We're going to turn it into a hospital [or] a school, a university," Chávez said.

Speculation centered on ex-Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene to head Belgium's ruling coalition after it collapsed last Friday, the third time this year that the ethnically divided nation has confronted a governmental crisis. The latest came as the Supreme Court issued a report suggesting that current Prime Minister Yves Leterme's government had meddled in a legal battle over the recent rescue of troubled financial giant Fortis. Leterme submitted his resignation and said he would not accept reappointment.

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