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Pakistan Intensifies Search for Kidnapped UN Official


PAKISTAN: Pakistani authorities say they are questioning about a dozen people in connection with the kidnapping of a U.N. refugee agency official. Pakistani officials say they do not have a clear idea who abducted American John Solecki Monday in the city of Quetta because of the area's high number of criminal gangs, Taliban insurgents and separatist rebels. No group has claimed responsibility for the ambush. Solecki's driver was killed in the attack. Authorities have increased security along the Afghan border to prevent the kidnappers from taking the U.N. official to Afghanistan.

ISRAEL - PALESTINIANS: Israeli police say a rocket from Gaza has exploded in the southern Israeli town of Ashkelon. Officials say no one was hurt in today's attack, and no one has claimed responsibility for the incident. Limited rocket and mortar fire has resumed from Gaza since a truce was reached two weeks ago that ended Israel's three-week-long offensive in the Gaza Strip. The latest attack came as a Hamas delegation discussed terms for a long-term truce with Israel through Egyptian mediators. Hamas has demanded that crossings to Gaza be open in exchange for a durable cease-fire.

CLINTON - DIPLOMACY: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is due to meet with her British and German counterparts today. Clinton's separate meetings with British Foreign Secretary David Milliband and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier will likely be dominated by the situation in Afghanistan and Iran's nuclear program. State Department officials said Monday plans are also being finalized for Clinton's first overseas trip to Japan, South Korea and China. The officials say the aim of the trip is to reaffirm close ties with Japan and South Korea, and review the complex relationship with China.

IRAN SATELLITE: Iran state media say Tehran has launched its first homemade satellite into orbit. Media outlets said today the satellite - named Hope - was put into orbit late Monday by an Iran-made Safir satellite carrier. Officials launched the satellite as Iran marks the 30th anniversary of the Islamic revolution this month. Iran has long held the goal of developing a space program, generating unease among world leaders already concerned about its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The West fears the technology used to launch a space rocket could be diverted into development of long-range ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

NOKOR - NUCLEAR: South Korea's Yonhap news agency says North Korea appears to be preparing to launch an inter-continental missile. Yonhap quotes an intelligence source as saying today that North Korea has been moving equipment similar to its long-range Teapodong-Two missile, which the North unsuccessfully tested in 2006. The source said it will likely take North Korea about two months to prepare for the launch. On Monday, the North said it will not dismantle its nuclear weapons program until U.S. nuclear weapons in the South also are dismantled.

CHINA - BRITAIN: China has called a shoe-throwing incident in Britain involving Premier Wen Jiabao "despicable," but says it will not affect friendly ties between the two countries. Mr. Wen was discussing the world economic crisis at Cambridge University Monday, when a protester blew a whistle, asked the audience how they can listen to lies, and hurled a shoe at the Chinese leader. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said in a statement today that Beijing has expressed its strong displeasure, but noted that British authorities say they will punish the person according to law.

INDONESIA - BOAT PEOPLE: Indonesian navy officials say a wooden boat from Burma with 198 men on board was found Monday drifting off the coast of Aceh province in northern Sumatra. A navy officer said today that fishermen spotted the boat carrying migrants from the Burmese Rohingya minority. He said the migrants told him they had been adrift for three weeks after being beaten and towed out to sea by Thai security forces, and that at least 22 people had died during the ordeal. Most of the survivors are in critical condition. This is the latest in a string of accusations that Thai authorities have habitually abused boat people fleeing Burma by abandoning them to die at sea.

HONG KONG - OBAMA: Madam Tussaud's Wax Museum in Hong Kong has a new addition: a statue of the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama. The museum exhibits lifelike wax statues depicting famous figures from popular culture and history. Chinese tourists surrounded Mr. Obama's statue and posed for photographs, some of them holding the wax president's hand.

EUROPE WEATHER: British weather forecasters are predicting more snow today as the country tries to cope with a rare winter storm that paralyzed London. British officials have issued an extreme weather warning for much of the UK. Twenty centimeters of snow covered the British capital Monday -- frustrating commuters who lost bus and train service, but delighting children who had a day home from school. The winter storm shut down Heathrow Airport. A Cyprus Airways jet skidded off a taxiway, but no one was hurt. Snow and ice also snarled traffic and flights in Paris and northern France, and parts of Spain and Italy.

Listen to our World News for details.

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