World

Russia and Ukraine signed a deal Sunday to allow natural gas to resume flowing to freezing customers across Europe. But although monitoring teams from the European Union were fanning out to control centers along the pipeline to ensure that Ukraine does not divert more of the gas than it's entitled to, end users in the Balkans and elsewhere were expected to have to wait up to three more days before the fuel reaches them again.

Pro-Israel rallies were beginning to counter the waves of protests around the world against the Jewish state's offensive in the Gaza Strip. But demonstrators in support of Israel in Berlin, Frankfurt, and other German cities were far outnumbered by the tens of thousands elsewhere who've demanded a halt to the air and ground attacks in Gaza. The latter demonstrations have been held across Europe, in Canada, Lebanon, Turkey, and as far east as the Philippines. In Karachi, Pakistan, Sunday, police had to fire tear gas to disperse a crowd trying to storm the US Consulate over American support for Israel.

Two more Tamil separatist sites fell to Sri Lankan ground troops over the weekend, while retreating rebel units were being attacked from the air by combat planes, government spokesmen said. The two sites were said to be training camps, one of which held an underground theater. The claims could not be verified independently, and rebel spokesmen could not be reached for comment, but it appeared that the separatists were retreating into an ever-smaller stronghold around Mullaittivu on the northeast coast of the island.

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An Islamist militant group and the transitional government of Somalia agreed to a plan for the election of a new president, reports said. Members of Parliament will go to neighboring Djibouti, beginning Jan. 20, to vote on filling the post. The presidency has been vacant since Abdullahi Yusuf lost a power struggle to the prime minister and resigned Dec. 29.

A Saudi supertanker, its crew, and $100 million cargo of crude oil were en route back home Sunday after being freed by Somali pirates. The seizure of the Sirius Star Nov. 15 in the Gulf of Aden was the most daring and successful act of piracy in the region to date. Its owner wouldn't comment on reports that a $3 million ransom was paid to the hijackers. But five of them drowned with large sums of cash when their skiff overturned in heavy seas as they left the tanker.

In a new sanction against the military junta in Guinea, the Economic Community of West African States suspended it from membership Saturday until democracy is restored. Leaders of the Dec. 23 coup have pledged to hold a election, but have yet to set a date for it. The African Union also has suspended Guinea from membership, and the US and other Western nations have cut off most financial aid.

A passing boat picked up 18 survivors Sunday from a ferry that sank at night and in bad weather off Indonesia's Sulawesi Island. But the fate of 249 other passengers and crew members wasn't immediately known. The ferry was 31 miles at sea when it was battered by a powerful wave and radio contact with it was lost. Such accidents are not uncommon in Indonesia, which relies heavily on marine transportation but has lagged in investing in infrastructure improvements.

Rescuers searched for dozens of people still missing after Costa Rica experienced its most powerful earthquake in 150 years. But hope faded for finding any of those alive who were known to be buried under rubble from the 6.1-magnitude quake that struck the central highlands last Thursday. At least 19 people were killed. Hundreds of stranded residents and tourists visiting a national park had to be lifted out by helicopters because sections of highway in front of and behind them collapsed.

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