An Israeli airstrike killed a Palestinian militant and wounded three other people in the southern Gaza Strip Monday, the Jewish state's first apparent "disproportionate" retaliation for the resumption of rocket and mortar attacks. Defense Minister Ehud Barak told a TV interviewer that Israel isn't planning a wider offensive in Gaza, but his remarks appeared to contradict those of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who said Sunday that a new offensive would be conducted if necessary. In Egypt, where diplomats are attempting to broker a long-term truce, a spokesman for Gaza's Hamas government said his side was ready to cease hostilities for a year if Israel would agree to reopen border crossings.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for a terrorist bombing Monday that killed 21 police reservists in southern Afghanistan and wounded at least 20 others. The attack, at a training center in Uruzgan Province, occurred after the bomber broke free from guards who decided his behavior was suspicious. He ran to an area where the reservists were engaged in an exercise class and detonated an explosive vest. The attack was the worst of its type in Afghanistan in months.
UN and African Union peacekeepers were appealing to Sudan's government to let them stay in a rebel-held town in Darfur after being warned to evacuate. More than 30,000 civilians in the area need protection, an AU spokeswoman argued. The rebel Justice and Equality Movement says government forces are advancing on the town, Mahajiriya, and "we think they're planning a large attack." Sudan's liaison to the African Union told Agence France-Presse the peacekeepers were being asked, not ordered, to leave, "sort of like informing them [that] something will be happening here."
Tamil separatist rebels in Sri Lanka are nearly crushed, President Mahinda Rajapakse said in a message to the nation on the eve of Independence Day. He said the "final elimination of terror [is] well within our reach" after 25 years of war. As he spoke, however, the Red Cross said 29 people had been killed or wounded when artillery shells fell on a hospital in the war zone. A rebel website accused government forces of responsibility.
An opposition member of Greece's Parliament and one other person were hurt Mon-day in a clash with police trying to keep farmers from escalating a two-week protest against low prices for their crops. The violence took place at the port of Piraeus, where hundreds of farmers planned to drive their tractors to the capital. The Agriculture Ministry said its "door is always open" to farmers, but authorities forbade them from demonstrating in Athens except on foot. The protesters say they need much more than the $658 million in new aid the government has offered.
Business groups across Britain estimated Monday that disruptions caused by the heaviest snowfall in two decades would cost their members $1 billion. Accumulations of 10 inches or more led authorities to advise commuters not even to try traveling to work, and train and bus service and all flights into and out of Heathrow Airport were canceled. Several of London's subway lines and hundreds of schools also were closed. More snow was predicted for Tuesday from a system that was snarling highway traffic in France and Spain.
Whalers from Japan blasted environmental activists with a water cannon and a "military grade" noise machine Monday as the latter tried to disrupt an annual harvest off Antarctica. But the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society claimed its protesters also had been pelted with chunks of metal and golf balls and that one of them had been hurt. They've chased the whaling ship for almost 2,000 miles since early December. The Japanese aim to harvest more than 900 whales this season.