KENYA: Gunfire rang out today in Kenya's Rift Valley city of Nakuru, which has fallen prey to ethnic clashes triggered by post-election violence that has left nearly 700 people dead. The death toll from two days of fighting in the western town now stands at 25. Authorities unloaded the badly burned bodies of 16 people at Nakuru's mortuary earlier today. Many residents sought shelter in churches after fighting Thursday and Friday among youths armed with clubs, machetes, and bows and arrows. Police say it is difficult to say how many were injured. Many homes were burned.
ISRAEL - PALESTINIANS: Thousands of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip are crossing into Egypt for a fourth day since militants destroyed a border barricade Wednesday. For the first time, hundreds of vehicles crossed into Egypt today, after a group of militants used a bulldozer to open a new section of the barrier. On Friday, Egyptian border guards fired water cannons over the crowd but failed to stop hundreds of Palestinians from passing through the crossing. Palestinians are crossing the border to buy goods made scarce by a blockade Israel imposed on the Gaza Strip last week in response to Palestinian rocket attacks on southern Israel.
IRAN NUCLEAR: Iran's official news agency says the country has received a seventh shipment of nuclear fuel from Russia for its first atomic power plant. The Islamic Republic News Agency says the consignment of 11-tons of uranium fuel rods arrived at the Bushehr plant in southern Iran today. The report says the plant, which needs an initial supply of 82 tons of fuel, has so far received 77 tons and that the final shipment is expected soon. Iran has said it wants the plant to begin operating as early as the middle of this year.
IRAQ: Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says Iraqi forces will mount a major offensive against al-Qaida elements in the northern city of Mosul. He says the fight there will be "decisive," with the help of Mosul's population. An Interior Ministry spokesman says an extra three-thousand police are being sent to the city. Bombings in Mosul this week killed nearly 40 people and wounded more than 200. On the political front, a senior member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee urged Iraq's leaders on Friday to reach compromise.
US POLITICS: Voters in the U.S. state of South Carolina go to the polls today where Democratic presidential hopefuls face an important test in a primary election. Senator Barack Obama is ahead of Senator (and former first lady) Hillary Clinton and former Senator John Edwards in public opinion surveys in the first Democratic primary in the American South this election season. Obama - an African-American - has a strong lead among black voters in the state, but trails both of his major opponents among white voters. Black voters comprise about half of the eligible Democratic primary voters in South Carolina, where the subject of race has been a frequent topic of discussion recently.
US SURVEILLANCE: President Bush is urging Congress to broaden a surveillance program to allow the U.S. government to monitor private conversations without court approval. The president said Friday that legal permission for monitoring telephone calls and e-mail is critical to the government's fight against terrorists. Congress is being asked to amend and expand the Protect America Act, which authorizes U.S. intelligence agencies to tap into such contacts between suspected terrorists and people in the United States. Mr. Bush wants Congress to act before the legislation expires next week (on February first).
KOREAS - RAIL: South Korea's military says North Korea wants to cut the number of cross-border railway trains, citing a lack of cargo to transport. The first regular service for half a century began last month, with trains carrying goods and raw materials to and from a Seoul-funded industrial park at Kaeson, just north of the border. But South Korean officials said at military talks Friday, the North proposed reducing the frequency of the shipments. An official said the South rejected the proposal, but offered to bring it up at a later inter-Korean panel on railway cooperation.
BURMA - DISSIDENTS: A human rights group says Burma's military government continues to arrest dissidents, even after it promised a U.N. envoy there would be no more political detentions. Amnesty International said in a statement today that at least 96 political activists and their supporters have been arrested since November first. The group says Burmese Prime Minister Thein Sein gave assurances to U.N. Special Representative Ibrahim Gambari in early November that arrests had stopped and that no more would take place.
INDIA - SARKOZY: French President Nicolas Sarkozy was guest of honor at India's Republic Day celebrations, as New Delhi held a parade showcasing the country's latest military capabilities. Thousands of India's security forces marched through the capital city today to mark the anniversary of the adoption of India's democratic constitution in 1950. Mr. Sarkozy watched the spectacle, while accompanied by India's first female president, Prathibha Patil. Mr. Sarkozy has been touring the country in an effort to strengthen ties between the two nations.
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