Israel's leaders vowed a "fierce and disproportionate" response Sunday after militants in the Gaza Strip fired at least four more rockets into the Jewish state. One of the rockets landed beside a kindergarten, but no casualties were reported. Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told a cabinet meeting that Israel would employ "new rules [of engagement] that will guarantee we are not dragged into an incessant ... war." Meanwhile, Egyptian officials said they're installing motion sensors along the Gaza border to try to stop weapons smuggling by Hamas.Skip to next paragraph
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A youthful Muslim cleric was sworn in over the weekend as the new president of Somalia. Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, elected by a vote of members of parliament, is regarded as a moderate although he was driven into exile in 2006 by Ethiopian troops attempting to defend Somalia's weak transitional government. Analysts said he must move swiftly to unite the nation's various clans, regions, and ideologies or he'll fail, as have 14 previous attempts to forge a Somali government.
Saying, "Now it's OK; we managed the crisis," President Marc Ravalomanana sought to show that he remains in charge of Madagascar following a wave of antigovernment violence that killed at least 43 people. He spoke after opposition leader Andry Rajoelina, mayor of the capital city, proclaimed at a rally Saturday that he would "run all national affairs as of today." The gathering was peaceful, but analysts said the earlier trouble almost certainly has damaged the nation's popularity as a tourist destination.
In an elaborate ceremony on live television, the Russian Orthodox Church installed as its new patriarch Sunday a cleric with a reputation as a liberal "modernizer." Metropolitan Kirill succeeds Alexy II, who died in December. Kirill is a personal acquaintance of Pope Benedict XVI, and his accession to patriarch is seen as a possible sign that relations with the Roman Catholic Church may improve gradually. The churches split in 1054.
A new, left-of-center coalition government was to assume power in Iceland Sunday, but thousands of people were back on the streets of the capital, demonstrating their lingering anger over the island's economic collapse. Protesters said they want not only a change in leadership but also a clearer separation of powers between Parliament and the executive. The incoming government reportedly hopes to move up the date of the proposed national election from May 9 to April 25.
Police lowered the number of deaths from a burning gasoline truck in central Kenya from 111 to 94. But it was expected to rise again because another 178 people were hospitalized, many of them in critical condition. The accident was the worst of its type in east Africa in years. The tanker overturned after colliding with another vehicle Saturday night, and area residents were trapped by the subsequent explosion and flames as they tried to collect leaking fuel. Fire-fighting apparatus did not arrive until at least an hour afterward, reports said.
Acting on a telephoned warning, police in Castlewellan, Northern Ireland, defused a 300-pound car bomb Saturday that Irish Republican Army dissidents admitted abandoning. The dissidents reportedly intended to target a nearby British Army base but gave up the idea after encountering tighter than expected security. Had the bomb exploded, it could have caused "substantial" loss of life and property, police said.
Temperatures fell into the 80s F. across southern Australia, bringing relief to millions of people who'd endured the worst heat wave in a century. Days of temperatures above 104 degrees were blamed for at least 28 deaths and a massive electricity blackout in Melbourne. The searing heat has not yet threatened Australia's main sugar cane- and wheat-growing regions further north, however.