Israel successfully tested a new long-range missile Thursday, defense officials said, and reports indicate the missiles might be capable...

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Nuke-capable missile

test-launched by Israel

Israel successfully tested a new long-range missile Thursday, defense officials said, and reports indicate the missiles might be capable of being armed with nuclear warheads.

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Israeli radio reported the missile named “Jericho-3” would be an advanced version of the Jericho missiles already said by foreign intelligence agencies to be capable of delivering warheads. Israel has refused all comment on its missiles, even their name.

Israeli TV stations showed the white, multistaged missile being launched from the Palmachim air base on the Mediterranean coast, curving over the ocean, trailing a wide plume of white smoke. Channel 10 TV said Israel was working on a missile with a range of 2,500 miles.

Israel’s main ballistic-missile threat is from Iran, which has advanced missiles as well as a nuclear program that many in the West believe could produce weapons in the future.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly called for Israel to be “wiped off the map.”

Nairobi, Kenya

Train hijacked during protests in Kenya

Police cracked down fiercely on a second day of protests across Kenya on Thursday, firing bullets at opposition supporters and tear gas at a hospital. At least five people were killed.

Violent demonstrations and ethnic clashes have killed more than 600 Kenyans since a disputed Dec. 27 presidential vote.

Protesters even hijacked and looted a freight train bound for Uganda. Residents of Nairobi’s Kibera neighborhood said they had blocked the tracks because nearly three weeks of postelection turbulence had left them with dwindling supplies.


Gaza crossings closed

after barrage of rockets

Israel’s defense minister has ordered the temporary closure of all crossings into Gaza, cutting off supplies into the besieged strip in response to a slew of Palestinian rocket barrages at nearby Israeli towns, defense officials said today.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak made the decision late Thursday after Palestinians fired 40 rockets into Israel. The barrages continued Friday.

The move to close the crossings followed days of intense violence inside the coastal territory, beginning Tuesday, when Israel sent special forces into Gaza, setting off the biggest clash in months.

The widening violence has clouded Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, resumed after a Mideast conference in November sponsored by President Bush.


Colombia: The 14,110-foot Galeras volcano erupted violently Thursday, spewing ash miles into the sky and prompting the evacuation of several thousand people. There were no immediate reports of injuries or serious property damage.

Shootout: Hundreds of police officers and soldiers waged a three-hour gunbattle in Tijuana against heavily armed men who police said were part of the Arellano Felix drug cartel. Six kidnapping victims and one suspect were killed.

10-million-dollar bill: Zimbabwe’s central bank announced Thursday it would increase the denomination of the nation’s highest bank note to 10 million dollars to keep pace with the world’s highest inflation rate, officially estimated at 25,000 percent annually. The new note is the equivalent of about $4 at the dominant black-market exchange rate.

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