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Dec. 28, 2008 at 8:05 AM

Israel pounds Hamas targets for second day

GAZA, Dec. 28 (UPI) -- Israeli warplanes struck Hamas targets in Gaza for a second day Sunday as Palestinian medical sources put the death toll from the strikes at 275 people.

At least three more people died Sunday as warplanes hit Gaza City's main police station, while 600 have been wounded in the attacks, unnamed sources told CNN. A reporter for the U.S. broadcaster said she witnessed three large blasts Sunday morning, followed by black plumes of smoke rising on the horizon in Gaza.

An Israeli army spokesman confirmed the raids continued Sunday, with 210 targets associated with the Palestinian militant group, Hamas, being hit since the operations began Saturday. The spokesman said militants have launched more than 110 rockets into Israel since Saturday, with one killing an Israeli woman when it landed on a home, CNN reported.

Palestinian envoy Riyad Mansour, seeking a condemnation from the U.N. Security Council, told CNN Saturday, "There is no justification for punishing 1.5 million in the Gaza Strip because of the actions of a few."

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the air strikes would continue until Hamas militants were ready to "change their behavior."


Students among 7 dead in Afghan car blast

KHOST, Afghanistan, Dec. 28 (UPI) -- Seven people, including four children, died Sunday when a suicide bomber hit a government building in eastern Afghanistan, officials said.

Medical officials in Khost said 36 people, many of them also children, were injured in the blast, the BBC reported.

Authorities said a suicide attacker detonated the car bomb when security forces opened fire on his vehicle as he approached a government building where local leaders were holding talks with the district governor.

Killed in the blast were four students from a nearby school, a police officer, an Afghan soldier and a member of a pro-government militia, officials said.

Earlier Sunday, two Canadian soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb in Panjwayi district, described as a stronghold for Taliban militants in southern Kandahar province, the BBC reported.


At least 24 die in Bangladesh truck crash

DHAKA, Bangladesh, Dec. 28 (UPI) -- At least 24 Bangladeshi laborers died Sunday when a truck they were riding on flipped over into a ditch, police said.

The day laborers had hitched a ride on the truck, which was carrying a load of iron rods, police officials in Dhaka told CNN. Some of the workers were impaled by the rods while others were crushed from the weight of load when the truck lost control in dense fog on a road in Bangladesh's Tangail district, police said.

The laborers were headed home to vote in Monday's national elections, CNN said.


Ghana voters cast ballots in run-off

ACCRA, Ghana, Dec. 28 (UPI) -- Voters went to the polls in Ghana Sunday to determine the winner of a presidential election run-off, observers said.

The vote was made necessary when the Dec. 7 election failed to produce a majority for either Nana Akufo-Addo of the governing party or John Atta Mills of the opposition in the contest to succeed President John Kufuor, the BBC reported.

In the earlier vote, Addo defeated Mills by a slender margin but not enough to avoid the run-off.

Ghana's reputation for fair and peaceful elections is being put to the test as the two candidates have been engaged in a tense and closely matched contest.

A significant amount of rancor has emerged between Addo's New Patriotic Party and Mills' National Democratic Congress, with the rivals accusing each other of seeking to rig the run-off through intimidation and fraud, the broadcaster said.


Ill. legislator blasts Blagojevich lawyer

SPRINGFIELD, Ill., Dec. 28 (UPI) -- An Illinois state lawmaker says he will not let the attorney for Gov. Rod Blagojevich hijack impeachment hearings in Springfield.

Blagojevich attorney Ed Genson has demanded the impeachment committee call witnesses including several top aides to U.S. President-elect Barack Obama.

Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, says the hearings are not a courtroom trial and accused Genson of trying to turn them into "a circus" with the requests, the Chicago Tribune reported Sunday.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has asked lawmakers to not subpoena witnesses involved in his criminal case against Blagojevich, who is accused, among other things, of attempting to sell Obama's vacant U.S. Senate seat for political contributions and favors.

Genson is demanding the lawmakers subpoena Rahm Emanuel, Obama's incoming chief of staff, as well as longtime adviser Valerie Jarrett, saying Blagojevich can't get a fair impeachment hearing without them.

"This is a smoke screen," said Lang, whose committee will meet again Monday. "He's asking for subpoenas of witnesses he knows the U.S. attorney does not want us to have, and I, for one, am not going to allow him to turn this into a circus or sideshow."

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