More violence tarnished the final day of voting for a new parliament in Egypt, and reports said two people were killed as police and supporters of the government clashed with sympathizers of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood. Dozens of others were hurt by rubber bullets or tear gas canisters. The worst trouble occurred in towns north of Cairo, where police blocked polling places but didn't otherwise intervene when pro-government protesters attacked would-be voters. In the earlier rounds of voting, the Brotherhood quintupled its seats in the legislature, even though its candidates run as independents.
Israel's defense forces had no immediate comment on claims that an airstrike on a Palestinian car in the Gaza Strip town of Rafah Wednesday killed at least one leading militant and wounded up to 10 others. The dead man was identified as a field operative for the Popular Resistance Committees, a group that had conducted several attacks against Israelis. Israel has been responding for the past two days to the latest terrorist bombing, which killed five people in the coastal city of Netanya.
A 10-day deadline for American, Canadian, and other Western personnel of a UN peacekeeping force to leave was set by the government of Eritrea, diplomatic sources said. Those affected have served mainly as observers along the tense border with Ethiopia, where concerns that a new war could erupt have been growing recently. Two weeks ago, the UN threatened to impose sanctions on Eritrea unless it eased restrictions on the peacekeepers, particularly the use of helicopters and night patrols. Both nations have massed troops near the unmarked 1,000-mile border. They agreed five years ago to respect its demarcation by an independent commission, but Ethiopia later balked at the deal and the peace process between them has been stalled since.
A published report suggesting that China plans to offer a timetable for full democracy in Hong Kong was rejected as "groundless" by the government. The South China Morning Post said Wednesday that a government leader, whom it didn't identify, would announce a vague plan setting 2017 as the target date "if conditions are mature." Tens of thousands of Hong Kong residents marched again last Sunday, demanding the right to elect their own leader and legislature despite a ruling from Beijing last year ruling out the possibility of early democratic reform. Critics maintain that China's communist leadership is afraid it would lose control of Hong Kong if those demands were met and that the pro-democracy campaign would spread to the mainland.
For the fourth time in less than a month, rescue crews in China were trying to save coal miners trapped by an accident deep underground. At least 96 men were reported missing after an explosion Wednesday in Hebei Province, the Xinhua news agency said. Twenty-seven others escaped. The explosion came as the 171st - and last - dead miner was recovered from a Nov. 27 explosion in Heilong-jiang Province. Meanwhile, rescuers were still trying to reach 42 men trapped in a flooded mine in Henan Province. In the other incident, the bosses of another Hebei mine fled after a shaft flooded, leaving 18 workers trapped without anyone to guide rescue efforts.
Police responded with gunfire to villagers protesting a lack of compensation for their land in southern China, killing at least two and wounding several others, reports said. A witness put the number of deaths at 20, but that could not be confirmed. The dispute, the latest of several in China over the rapid spread of economic development into rural areas, erupted because of a wind-power project for which farmland was taken. The protesters complained that the money they'd been promised for it was stolen by corrupt officials.