Fourteen more Palestinians died Thursday in Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip as the Jewish state stepped up retaliation for rocket fire by militants. One Israeli missile struck a target outside Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh's home. The latest deaths brought the two-day count in Gaza to at least 25. But Palestinian attacks also continued, killing one man and wounding two other people. Above, a Palestinian flees after a missile strike on the Interior Ministry building in Gaza City.
Preparing for his historic visit to Baghdad Sunday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared that his country has become the world's "No. 1 power." In a speech to families of soldiers killed in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, he said, "The name of Iran means a firm punch in the teeth of the powerful and puts them in their place." No Iranian leader has visited Iraq since before the war, and Ahmadinejad is expected to try to demonstrate that his government's influence in Iraqi politics cannot be ignored.
A nationwide strike was planned in South Africa after an amateur video surfaced that shows white students compelling black workers at their university to perform degrading acts, as if in an initiation ritual. A narrative explains that the video, made last September, was in response to the integration of dormitories at formerly white University of the Free State. As word of the video spread, police had to quell a riot at the school Wednesday. The nation's Human Rights Commission and the Education Ministry both were investigating the matter.
Senior government officials in China said the unpopular policy that has limited couples to one child since 1979 probably will be dropped. But they gave no timetable and said other family-planning measures would remain in place. The government has said these policies have increased prosperity by preventing hundreds of millions of births. But an official of the National Population Commission told a news conference Thursday that "at the highest levels" there is concern that the one-child limit is tearing the fabric of society.
Four ex-members of Colombia's National Assembly, freed Wednesday by rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC), were flown to neighboring Venezuela for an emotional reunion with relatives. But amid the celebrations they made an impassioned plea for the release of fellow hostage Ingrid Betancourt, who holds dual French and Colombian citizenship and reportedly is gravely ill. FARC, which held the Colombians for six years, has proposed trading Betancourt, three US defense contractors, and 32 others for rebels whom the government has imprisoned. Below, Lucy Grechem, wife of former Sen. Jorge Grechem, wipes tears from his face.
An impending peace deal in Uganda appeared threatened after the government rejected a demand to drop indictments against the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army rebels and his top two lieutenants. The indictments were issued by the UN's International Criminal Court. A government spokesman said consideration of the demand was "premature" until the rebels have demobilized. But he sought to assure that the government would keep its end of any bargain. The two sides have signed a truce, but it is conditional on a final peace accord.
A commercial fisherman and martial arts enthusiast was being hailed as a hero in Australia Thursday for swimming 12 hours to shore to summon help for his companions after their trawler sank. A rescue helicopter later pulled one of the other two men from shark-infested waters off Queensland State; a search for the third was continuing. Their vessel struck a reef while they were sleeping.