8 climbers are believed dead after avalanche
Eight climbers were missing and presumed dead Sunday after an avalanche swamped a commonly used hiking trail near Mont Blanc, western Europe's highest peak. The avalanche, triggered when a chunk of ice as wide as two football fields broke off a mountain face, appeared to be the deadliest this year in the French, Swiss or Italian Alps, and the worst in the French Alps in more than a decade, officials said. "There's no chance of finding anyone alive," French Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said while visiting the region. Five Austrians and three Swiss were missing. Seven other people were hospitalized with injuries. In Pakistan this month, 11 people were killed on K2 — the world's second-highest peak — when an avalanche swept climbers away just below the 28,250-foot summit.
Rice to push peace deal in another visit
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice returns to the Mideast this week amid dwindling hopes for securing an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal by a year-end target. She was to arrive today in Israel on what will be her seventh trip to the region since President Bush, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert set the goal at a U.S.-hosted peace conference last November. Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel from the Hamas-run Gaza Strip and continued Israeli settlement activity have hurt efforts to get a deal, but both sides remain committed to the end-of-year deadline. Israel planned to release nearly 200 Palestinian prisoners on today in a gesture meant to improve the negotiating climate.
1 killed as troops, protesters clash
Paramilitary soldiers opened fire on a group of Muslim protesters in Indian Kashmir after they allegedly defied curfew late Sunday and tried to storm into a police camp, an official said. One person was killed and another seriously injured. The protesters had surrounded a Central Reserve Police Force camp in Srinagar, forcing troops to open fire, said police spokesman Prabhakar Tripathi. A witness, however, said the soldiers had fired on a man and his son without any provocation. In Baramullah, 35 miles to the north of Srinagar, thousands of people also defied an indefinite curfew imposed in Muslim-majority areas, and government troops used tear gas and fired rubber bullets when the angry mob began to throw stones at them, an official said. At least 27 people were injured. The unrest began in June when Muslims demonstrated over a government decision to transfer land to a Hindu shrine. After the plan was rescinded, Hindus took to the streets, demanding it be restored. The unrest has left at least 34 people dead.
Military exercises draw harsh rhetoric
North Korea claimed Sunday that joint military exercises by South Korea and the United States were a rehearsal for an attack against it and warned that any aggression would be repelled. "Should the U.S. imperialists and their following forces misjudge (North Korea's) will and act rashly," North Korea's people and army "will mercilessly wipe out the aggressors to the last man," Gen. Kim Jong Gak was quoted as saying. South Korea and the United States ended annual computer-simulated military drills last week.