Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for a terrorist bombing that killed at least five people in Hadera, Israel, Wednesday. The blast in an open-air market also wounded 21 others, some of whom were said to be in critical condition. It was the first such incident inside Israel in two months. The attacker, who was among the dead, was identified as a 20-year-old resident of the West Bank town of Qabatiyeh. Islamic Jihad said the blast was in revenge for the death of one of its leaders in a shootout with Israeli security forces earlier this week.

The attack came as the new president of Iran told a "World Without Zionism" conference in Tehran that "Israel must be wiped off the map." Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the Jewish state a "stigma" that must not be allowed to live in the Islamic heartland. His words appeared to be a reversal of the approach of his predecessor, Mohamad Khatami, whose government said it might not object to Israel and a Palestinian state existing side-by-side.

Having failed to defeat Iraq's proposed constitution, three Sunni Muslim political movements said they were forming a coalition to contest the Dec. 15 election for parliament and "focus ... on getting the Americans out." The formation of the Iraqi Accord Front beat by two days the deadline for parties and other alliances to register for the election. The alliance called on "all Iraqis" to resist calls for boycotting future voting "because they are harmful."

Friends of Syria rushed to its defense as the US and other Western nations challenged the UN Security Council to demand full cooperation with the investigation into ex-Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri's assassination. Officials of the Damascus government have been implicated in Hariri's death. Russia, which has a veto in the council, said it would do "everything necessary" to block sanctions against Syria. The Arab League said sanctions should not be imposed since the investigators themselves have called for the probe to continue. Meanwhile, Lebanese troops encircled camps run by Palestinian militants near the Syrian border, and Lebanon's government reported to the UN "an increasing influx" of weapons and people across the boundary to and from the camps.

Temperatures dipped below freezing in some Pakistan valleys where as many as 800,000 people remain without shelter after the Oct. 8 earthquake. Aid officials estimated that efforts to provide those in the remotest areas with six months' worth of food supplies must be complete by the end of next month or "catastrophe looms large." The quake already is blamed for 79,000 deaths in Pakistan. Meanwhile, a respected daily newspaper there blasted President Pervez Musharraf editorially for his unwillingness to accept offers of humanitarian aid from rival India.

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