- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 26, 2007

ISRAEL

Warplanes attack despite new signal

GAZA — Israel’s air force pounded the Gaza Strip today, just hours after the Islamist group Hamas and other militants signaled softer terms for ending cross-border rocket salvos.

Helicopter gunships fired missiles at several Hamas targets, including a wood shop, militia posts and a guardhouse outside the home of Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.

At least three persons, all passers-by, were hurt, doctors said.

The new barrage came hours after Hamas’ armed wing and other militant factions said they were considering a proposal by moderate President Mahmoud Abbas for a cease-fire in Gaza.

IRELAND

Ahern’s party gets strong lead in vote

DUBLIN — Prime Minister Bertie Ahern was poised to extend a 10-year run in power that has seen Ireland’s economy become the most dynamic in Europe, partial results from parliamentary elections showed yesterday.

The prime minister’s Fianna Fail party took a surprisingly strong lead in the first results from Thursday’s elections, and could even win enough seats to avoid sharing power for the first time in decades.

Analysts predicted Fianna Fail would win at least 78 seats and might reach 83, the threshold to govern on its own in the 166-seat Dail Eireann, the lower house of Parliament.

VENEZUELA

Military moves in for TV shutdown

CARACAS — Dozens of armored cars and military vehicles filed down the highways of Caracas in a slow-moving cavalcade yesterday, making a show of force before the closure of an opposition television station.

President Hugo Chavez’s decision to close the RCTV television channel, which he accuses of backing a 2002 coup against him, has prompted international condemnation and several demonstrations.

The U.S. Senate on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution against the “transgression of freedom of thought and expression” in Venezuela.

A military source said the mobilization was to head off any violent demonstrations tomorrow, when the station goes off the air.

IRAN

Allies complain to IAEA chief

VIENNA, Austria — U.S. and allied envoys met the U.N. nuclear watchdog chief yesterday to complain about remarks they saw as undercutting efforts to shut down Iran’s uranium enrichment program, diplomats said.

International Atomic Energy Agency Director Mohamed ElBaradei irked Western powers by suggesting in recent interviews that their demand, mirrored in U.N. Security Council resolutions, for zero enrichment in Iran to prevent it gaining nuclear knowledge was obsolete because Tehran could already refine uranium.

BRITAIN

Muslim cleric freed, deported to Jamaica

LONDON — A Muslim cleric named by the British government as a key influence on one of four men who carried out the deadly London transport bombings in 2005 was deported to Jamaica yesterday after being released from prison.

Abdullah el-Faisal, a Jamaican-born convert to Islam, was placed on a flight to Kingston, Jamaica, Home Secretary John Reid said. El-Faisal was barred from re-entering Britain.

NIGERIA

Gunmen seize Americans, Britons

LAGOS — Gunmen yesterday seized a boatload of foreign oil workers, including three Americans, four Britons and a South African, in the latest violence to hit Nigeria’s southern petroleum-producing region, officials said.

Nearly 200 foreign workers have been kidnapped in 18 months of attacks on oil companies and security forces in the Niger Delta, where Africa’s biggest oil producer pumps all its crude.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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