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Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel added the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party to his coalition Monday, bringing to 53 the number of legislators committed to his agenda. Netanyahu, who has until next Friday to complete a government, also had hopes of enlisting Defense Minister Ehud Barak's Labor Party to his ranks. Barak is expected to ask the party Tuesday to agree to join.

An uproar ensued in Palestinian ranks Monday after one of the most senior leaders of Fatah and four companions were killed when a bomb explosion destroyed their vehicles in southern Lebanon. Kamal Medhat had just visited a Palestinian refugee camp when the blast occurred. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called the attack an "assassination" and an act of terrorism. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Fellow winners of the Nobel Peace Prize reacted angrily Monday after the government of South Africa denied the Dalai Lama a visa to attend an international conference later this week. A spokesman for President Kgalema Motlanthe said the Tibetan spiritual leader's presence "would not be in the interests of South Africa," which is to stage next year's World Cup soccer championship. "We cannot allow the focus to shift to China and Tibet," the spokesman said. Led by retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who is South African, members of the Nobel Committee canceled plans to attend the conference.

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A runoff election for president of Macedonia was set for April 5 after the top two finishers in Sunday's balloting failed to win a majority of the votes. Law Prof. Gjorgje Ivanov, the candidate of the ruling VMRO-DPMNE, held a 34 percent to 20 percent lead over Ljubomir Frckoski of the Social Democrats. Incumbent Branko Cvenkovski chose not to seek reelection. International monitors called the election free and fair.

Eleven people were hurt, one of them seriously, when suspected Muslim separatists exploded two bombs in Thailand's restive Narathiwat Province Monday. One blast targeted an open-air market, the other a popular coffee shop. The combined casualty toll was one of the highest in the region in months. More than 3,600 others have been killed since Muslims began an autonomy campaign in earnest five years ago.

Over the protests of animal rights activists, the world's largest seal hunt opened Monday in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, off Quebec. The Canadian government, which set the allowable catch at 280,000 harp seals (an increase of 5,000 over last year), and residents of coastal villages defend the hunt as humane and a significant source of income. Critics, however, say its days are numbered because of growing international opposition.

After a come-from-behind 9-4 elimination of Team USA from the World Baseball Classic (WBC), Japan was preparing to play Korea for the championship Monday night in Los Angeles. Japan, which won the first WBC in 2006, was down 2-1 in the fourth inning Sunday when it rallied for five runs against ineffective US starting pitcher Roy Oswalt.

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