More wrenching confrontations were experienced by Israeli defense forces as they carried out orders to evacuate defiant Jewish settlers and their sympathizers from the Gaza Strip. Soldiers forced their way into synagogues and pried open the doors of houses, at one point interrupting a child's first birthday party. Another settler and his family were coaxed down from their roof after a standoff in which he refused to relinquish an M-16 rifle. By nightfall Thursday, the military was expected to have evacuated all but three of Gaza's 21 settlements.

An unprecedented eight-day military exercise involving land, sea, and air forces of Russia and China opened with a memorial service and news conference in the far eastern city of Vladivostok. It is scheduled to culminate in an amphibious and paratroop landing on China's Shandong Peninsula next week to stabilize an imaginary country riven by ethnic strife. "Peace Mission 2005," which will involve more than 10,000 troops, is designed to strengthen relations between the two countries but not to lead to a military union or to "threaten any country," a senior Russian commander said. The US is not officially observing the maneuvers, but the commander of the Pacific Fleet said the exercise is of interest because of "the complexity and the types of systems that they bring to bear."

Four wanted men were were killed as Saudi security forces in Riyadh and the holy city of Medina clashed with suspected Islamic radicals. New King Abdullah was visiting a site not far away as the fighting raged in Medina. Police said they were targeting a "deviant group," a term used to describe Al Qaeda members or their supporters.

A massive loss of electricity disrupted tens of millions of people across Indonesia Thursday, but it did not appear due to sabotage or terrorism. At least three power plants on densely populated Java failed, leaving Jakarta, the nation's capital, completely blacked out. A police spokesman said the problem appeared to be "technical," although President Susilo Bambang Yudhyono ordered an official investigation.

Only nine survivors were rescued after a seriously overloaded boat carrying emigrants capsized in the Pacific Ocean off Colombia. The incident took place last Friday night but was not reported until Wednesday. The victims all were Ecua-dorean and were believed headed for the US in search of new economic opportunities. The boat carrying them was meant to hold only 15, Colombian Navy officials said.

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