Israeli helicopter gunships killed a senior Hamas political leader and two bodyguards with a missile strike on their car in Gaza City. The action, authorized in the wake of Tuesday's bus bombing in Jerusalem, injured 15 bystanders and triggered immediate cancellations by Hamas and another extremist group, Islamic Jihad, of their uneven seven-week-old truce. Both threatened retaliation. Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas called the killing of Ismail Abu Shanab "an ugly crime" and warned it would undermine his own efforts to crack down on militants.
Despite Tuesday's bomb attack, the UN remains committed to its mission in Iraq and will resume operations Saturday, said injured humanitarian coordinator Ramiro Lopez da Silva, as the death toll rose to 23 with the recovery of more remains. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund both evacuated personnel. In a separate development, the US military confirmed the capture of Ali Hassan al-Majid, a cousin of ex-dictator Saddam Hussein known as "Chemical Ali," for ordering the use of poison gas against rebel Kurds. Previous reports of his death in a bomb attack in April proved untrue.
Amid opposition claims of harassment and pro-government media bias, Rwanda is gearing up for its first multiparty presidential election Monday, seen as a key test of its recovery from the 1994 genocide by majority Hutus. Incumbent Paul Kagame has criticized main rival candidate, Faustin Twagiramungu, for allegedly attempting to stir up ethnic tensions. Kagame is a member of the Tutsi minority and Twagiramungu is a Hutu, although members of his family were killed in 1994 because he opposed the violence.
French President Jacques Chirac pledged "everything will be done" to address the health crisis from a heat wave blamed for an estimated 10,000 deaths in the country, mainly among the elderly. Chirac's televised address Thursday was his first public statement on the issue, and follows mounting criticism of his government's handling of the situation. Portugal's health ministry said it believed 1,316 people had died in that country from heat-related illness.
More than 1,000 demonstrators were arrested and 37 people were injured in clashes with police in Calcutta, India, and elsewhere in West Bengal state. The unrest occurred as many businesses observed a 24-hour strike called by the opposition Socialist Unity Center of India party to protest spiraling education, health care, and electricity costs.