Palestinian reportedly slain by Israeli soldiers

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip

Israeli soldiers killed a Palestinian woman and wounded her three children as well as a second woman in a refugee camp yesterday, Palestinian witnesses said.

Israel said soldiers shot at armed Palestinians trying to infiltrate a Jewish settlement and had no information on civilians being shot.

Early yesterday, two Israeli soldiers were wounded seriously when a bomb went off on the Israel-Lebanon border.

Two other soldiers were wounded, one lightly and another moderately, when a bomb exploded next to their jeep near the West Bank town of Tulkarem, army officials said.

There also were Israeli tank movements in the Gaza Strip.

The military said soldiers saw a group of Palestinians, some of them armed, approaching the settlement of Rafiah Yam. The soldiers opened fire on the Palestinians and saw Palestinians take four wounded people away while two others escaped, the military said.

But a Palestinian witness, Samir Abu Shahin, said Israeli soldiers opened fire at the Tel Sultan refugee camp, which is near the settlement.

“The woman and her family were walking in the middle of the street, and I saw her fall, and blood covering her body, and not far from her, the two children also fell.”

India elections threaten peaceful relations

GODHRA, India

Nine months later, a brick maker named Jagdish Prajapati still hears the people who screamed for help as they were burned alive when a mob set fire to their train.

The attack killed 60 Hindus and ignited riots that killed more than 1,000 people, most of them Muslim. Now, just as Hindus and Muslims are struggling to rebuild their shattered trust in each other, an election threatens to rekindle the sectarian passions that led to India’s worst communal bloodshed in a decade.

The legislative elections Thursday in Gujarat, India’s largest state, are important for the Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, which heads the national coalition government.

The Hindu nationalist party has lost power in three of India’s 29 states since it came to power at the federal level in 1998, and now holds only four. Losing Gujarat to the secular Congress party would be a serious blow to its credibility.

The BJP was accused of tacitly approving the Gujarat violence against Muslims. There were calls from some of the party’s own coalition partners to oust the BJP leader in Gujarat, Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

Chavez tries to end truck drivers’ strike

CARACAS, Venezuela

President Hugo Chavez sent troops to force gas stations to open and threatened to take over private gas delivery companies yesterday amid increasing signs of scarcity due to a strike that has shut down production by the world’s fifth-largest oil producer.

Lines of cars stretched for blocks in Caracas yesterday as panic-buying at gas stations began on the general strike’s seventh day. Shoppers emptied store shelves, worried about political unrest and Chavez’s threat to declare martial law if needed.

Last week, Chavez sent soldiers to protect oil wells and refineries from possible sabotage by strikers. Yesterday, he sent soldiers to gasoline stations to ensure continued service and delivered a warning to striking gasoline truck drivers.

Lousiana Senate race taken by Democrat

NEW ORLEANS

President Bush’s midterm election magic failed in Louisiana as Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu defeated a strong challenge from Republican Suzanne Haik Terrell in an unusual December runoff.

National Democratic Party leaders saw Landrieu’s close victory as salve for their wounded pride after November elections that boosted Bush’s numbers in Congress and gave the GOP control of the Senate.

Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), soon to lose his job as Senate majority leader, said Landrieu’s victory “proves the Democrats are alive and well” and noted that Louisiana voters also chose Democrat Rodney Alexander over Republican Lee Fletcher for the open congressional seat in the 5th District.

Cardinal protested outside cathedral

BOSTON

Facing rekindled outrage from priests and parishioners over new revelations of clergy misconduct, Cardinal Bernard Law stayed away from the Cathedral of the Holy Cross yesterday as protesters renewed calls for his resignation.

Some 400 protesters gathered outside the cathedral, where Law had been expected to celebrate Mass, as they have since the abuse scandal erupted in January. An archdiocese spokeswoman refused to say where Law was, saying only that he had no public schedule.

Yesterday’s larger-than-usual protest was fueled by last week’s release of new internal church documents containing some of the most spectacular allegations yet, suggesting church officials tolerated a wide range of clergy misconduct, and not just sexual abuse of boys.

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