Nation, world briefly: Suicide bomber kills 5 Afghans near U.S. base

KABUL, Afghanistan — A suicide bomber wearing an Afghan security uniform detonated his explosives at the entrance to a combined U.S.-Afghan base Saturday, killing four Afghan soldiers and a civilian, officials said.

The bomber walked up to a security gate for Afghan soldiers outside Forward Operating Base Bermel in the eastern province of Paktika, near the border with Pakistan, NATO’s International Security Assistance Force said.

No Americans were hurt.

It was not immediately clear if the bomber had been trying to gain entry to the base.

Taliban insurgents have set off more than 100 suicide blasts this year, a record pace, and violence in 2007 has been the deadliest since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.

Indonesia’s ‘Child of Krakatoa’ volcano spews ash, smoke

Indonesia: Volcano may erupt

The Indonesian volcano known as the “Child of Krakatoa” spewed ash and smoke, prompting warnings of a possible eruption, a government volcanologist said Saturday.

The mountain in the Sunda Strait, 80 miles west of Jakarta, formed after the giant Krakatoa eruption of 1883 that killed tens of thousands of people and was the largest explosion in recorded history.

Anak Krakatoa, which means “Child of Krakatoa,” is the third volcano to become active in recent weeks in Indonesia, a sprawling nation of more than 17,000 islands.

Argentina: Election today

President Nestor Kirchner and his wife are poised to launch a new political dynasty today in an election that promises to replace him with her.

Argentines are grateful to Kirchner for engineering a recovery from a 2001 economic crisis that savaged the middle class, and that has translated into such broad support for his wife, Sen. Cristina Fernandez, that she will likely avoid a second round.

Somalia: Seven dead in battles

Insurgents and government-allied forces battled with machine guns, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades Saturday in the heaviest fighting to hit Somalia’s capital for months, leaving at least seven people dead and dozens others wounded, witnesses and health officials said.

Islamic fighters briefly occupied a police station in south Mogadishu, before heading back out of the area in the heavy fighting between insurgents, government troops and government-allied Ethiopian forces.

China: Lake cleanup plan set

China has announced a multibillion-dollar plan to clean up a severely polluted lake where an algae bloom forced the suspension of water supplies to millions of people this summer.

The $14.5 billion plan to clean up Lake Tai, in a densely populated area northwest of Shanghai, should take five years, said a statement dated Friday and posted on a government Web site of the nearby city of Taizhou.

The move comes amid mounting official urgency about curbing chronic pollution in China’s rivers and lakes that has left millions of people without clean water and disrupted city water systems.

California: Thousands protest war

Thousands of people called for a swift end to the war in Iraq as they marched through downtown Saturday, chanting and carrying signs that read: “Wall Street Gets Rich, Iraqis and GIs Die” or “Drop Tuition Not Bombs.”

The streets were filled with thousands as labor union members, anti-war activists, clergy and others rallied near City Hall before marching to Dolores Park.

The protest was the largest in a series of war protests taking place in Seattle, New York, Los Angeles and other U.S. cities, organizers said.

Hawaii: Missile defense tested

The military shot down a Scud-type missile in another successful test of a new technology meant to knock down ballistic missiles in their final minute of flight, the Missile Defense Agency said Saturday.

A ship off Kauai fired a target missile at 9:15 p.m. Hawaii Standard Time Friday, or 12:15 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time on Saturday. Minutes later, soldiers with the U.S. Army’s 6th Air Defense Artillery Brigade launched an interceptor missile from Kauai that destroyed the target over the Pacific, according to the agency.

Texas: Train strikes, kills boy, 5

A 5-year-old Watauga boy playing on train tracks fell and then froze up when he heard a locomotive approaching, leaving him unable to move before the train struck and killed him, police said.

Kevin Bradford and two other boys had sneaked past their grandmother to look for dinosaur bones Thursday, police said.

Workers aboard the Union Pacific train traveling through this small North Texas town saw the boys on the tracks but couldn’t stop in time despite braking, Union Pacific spokesman Joe Arbona said.

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