Israel's Defense Minister ordered an investigation and offered regrets over the killing of four Palestinians in a raid by tanks late Wednesday on a Gaza Strip town. Four others were wounded. The incident, military sources said, happened after soldiers saw "suspicious movements by a number of people" in an area near a Jewish settlement that is off-limits to Palestinians and "fired at them." Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat called it an "unforgivable crime" and Hamas vowed "a new escalation in our resistance."

A proposal for public-private partnerships to combat poverty in the developing world drew immediate attack at the UN Earth Summit in South Africa. Critics, led by environmental activists, said such linkups would allow big businesses to cash in by charging high prices for water, electricity, healthcare, and other essential services to local communities while governments could shirk their responsibilities. Summit organizers said they'd received notification of 218 such partnerships. But US Rep. George Miller (D) of California called them "a recycled idea and recycled money."

In a late-night attack, armed men chased away the guard of an antigovernment radio station in Zimbabwe's capital, then destroyed it with a bomb. No one was injured in the attack on the privately owned Voice of the People, one of only two independent broadcasters in the country. The incident came three days after President Robert Mugabe swore in a "full-fledged war cabinet" that he said would defend his policies from interference at home and abroad. Similar attacks have damaged the offices of a newspaper in Harare that is often critical of Mugabe's controversial programs.

Another death-by-stoning sentence was imposed by an Islamic court in Nigeria, despite its potential for embarrassing President Olusegun Obasanjo's government. A couple in their early 30s was ordered executed for having sexual relations outside marriage. A similar court earlier this month ordered the stoning death of another woman for bearing a child out of wedlock. That sentence is being appealed. The national government has declared the harsh Islamic criminal code unconstitutional. But it also maintains it can't overrule the local sharia courts.

Millions of people along the swollen Yangtze River in eastern China were warned against a "lax attitude" as defenses against flooding were about to be tested to their limits. The city of Nanjing is one of the final "danger spots" between the highest flood surge in at least four years and the sea. Upstream, officials still were urging vigilance, even though the crest had passed, because defenses were waterlogged.

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