Iran Successfully Tests

New Strategic Missile

TEHRAN -- Iran added a strategic missile to its military arsenal after a successful test, and the defense minister said Saturday that his country was ready to confront any external threat.

The report by state-run radio did not say whether the test involved the previously announced new version of the Shahab-3 rocket, capable of reaching Israel and U.S. forces stationed in the Middle East, or a different missile.

"This strategic missile was successfully test-fired during military exercises by the Revolutionary Guards and delivered to the armed forces," the defense minister, Ali Shamkhani, was quoted as saying.

The exercises were held Sept. 12-18.

Shamkhani refused to give details about the missile for "security reasons," but he said Iran was "ready to confront all regional and extra-regional threats," according to the radio.

Defense Ministry officials could not be reached for comment.

THE MIDDLE EAST

* GAZA CITY -- Israeli army bulldozers razed 35 homes in a Palestinian refugee camp, a U.N. official said, a day after a resident of a nearby Jewish settlement was killed by mortar fire from the area. A missile fired by Palestinians at an Israeli target fell short of its target and hit a car in the Palestinian town of Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza, blowing up the vehicle but causing no injuries, witnesses said. On Sunday, an Israeli missile strike destroyed a metal workshop in the refugee camp.

* JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia -- A Frenchman was shot dead in Jiddah early on Sunday, a killing that mirrored recent attacks by al Qaeda militants trying to destabilize the country.

EUROPE

* PARIS -- A son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was at the center of a commotion in Paris before dawn, after police stopped him for speeding and the Libyan's bodyguards attacked the officers, police said. Police stopped Hannibal Gadhafi, 28, after he raced through a red light on the Champs-Elysees at about 2 a.m., driving a Porsche. Two bodyguards were detained but released after Libyan diplomats apologized. Gadhafi, who has diplomatic immunity, was not detained.

ASIA

* KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Dead swallows discovered on an island in the disputed Spratly chain tested negative for bird flu, Malaysian authorities said, easing fears that the disease was spreading beyond a quarantined northern state.

Five Malaysian navy sailors had been placed under hospital observation after coming in contact with the birds.

* TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Thousands of protesters marched through Taiwan's capital, urging the government to scrap a big U.S. weapons package they said would trigger an arms race with China and squeeze social welfare.

Defending the $18.2 billion deal, Premier Yu Shyi-kun said maintaining strong defense and a military balance with China were critical to security.

* BEIJING -- A swollen river swept a bus off a bridge in China's southwest, and about 30 passengers were missing, the government said. The accident happened at midday on the outskirts of Chongqing, a huge industrial city, the official New China News Agency reported, citing a local Communist Party official.

THE AMERICAS

* SANTIAGO, Chile -- A Chilean judge questioned Gen. Augusto Pinochet about the disappearance of leftist political opponents during his 1973-90 dictatorship. But Judge Juan Guzman, who indicted Pinochet in 2001 in a different human rights case that was blocked by Chile's Supreme Court, said later that he cut short the session because Pinochet was "very tired."

* BOGOTA, Colombia -- Eleven former Nicaraguan soldiers and guerrillas were arrested in Colombia for trying to supply the country's rebels with arms in exchange for drugs, police said. News of the arrests came hours after Colombian officials seized two tons of cocaine, valued at about $40 million, in the Pacific port of Buenaventura.

AFRICA

* JOHANNESBURG -- Thousands of gay men and lesbians held a march to celebrate South Africa's gay rights laws, unprecedented on a continent where many regard homosexuality as taboo. South Africa's post-apartheid constitution was the first in the world to recognize the rights of gays, and same-sex couples are now allowed to adopt children and be included in their partners' wills.

-- From News Services