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Israeli airstrike killed militant in Gaza Strip, medics say

Wednesday, January 6, 2010; A06

ISRAEL

Gaza airstrike killed militant, medics say

A Palestinian militant was killed and four others were wounded in an Israeli airstrike Tuesday in the central Gaza Strip, medics and a Palestinian militant group said.

An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed the airstrike but gave no further details. The reported fatality was the first of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict this year. Israel killed six militants in two incidents in Gaza and the occupied West Bank late last month.

-- Reuters

Housing approved for East Jerusalem

Israel has approved construction of four apartment buildings in disputed East Jerusalem, officials said Tuesday, fueling tensions with the Palestinians at a time when the United States is trying to get peace talks restarted.

The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem for a future capital and demand that all construction there stop for talks to resume. The 24-unit project in a predominantly Arab neighborhood is being developed by Irving Moskowitz, an American who has funded Jewish settlers determined to cement Israel's hold on contested areas of Jerusalem.

-- Associated Press

IRAN

Contact prohibited with foreign groups

Iran has barred its citizens from contact with 60 foreign organizations, including universities, pro-democracy groups and broadcasters, accusing them of waging a "soft war" against the country, state television's Web site quoted the Intelligence Ministry as saying late Monday, when it published the list.

Among the predominantly U.S.- and British-based organizations listed are the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, George Soros's Open Society Institute, the American Enterprise Institute and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, all based in Washington, as well as Yale University, New York-based Human Rights Watch, the BBC and Voice of America.

Iran has used terms such as "soft war" and "velvet coup" to describe the country's political opposition. Security forces have cracked down on the opposition since it alleged that the June reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was rigged.

-- Bloomberg News

U.N. halts food aid in southern Somalia: The U.N. food agency suspended the distribution of aid in southern Somalia because of attacks on its employees, a decision affecting as many as 1 million people in the lawless Horn of Africa nation. At least 43 aid workers were killed between January 2008 and fall 2009, according to the United Nations. Four remain in captivity.

Colombia extradites alleged money launderer to U.S.: Colombia sent a man whose pyramid schemes sparked riots there to the United States to face charges that he laundered millions of dollars of proceeds from cocaine trafficking. David Murcia was due to appear in a U.S. district court in Florida before being transferred to New York for prosecution.

Blair to face Iraq war inquiry within weeks: Former British prime minister Tony Blair will make his highly anticipated appearance before an official inquiry into the Iraq war in late January or early February, the inquiry team said. The panel will hold a ballot to allocate public seats for the occasion, while a third of the 60 or so available spaces will be allocated to families of soldiers killed in the war.

-- From news services

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