Lawlessness, violence

persist in Gaza Strip

DEIR EL-BALAH, Gaza Strip - Palestinian gunmen briefly abducted an Italian journalist and attacked government buildings Saturday in the Gaza Strip, signs of the lawlessness that threatens to intensify in the territory after Israel hands it over to the Palestinians early next week.

The last Israeli soldiers were to leave on Monday, or a day later if the Israeli Cabinet decides to raze more than two dozen synagogues still standing in demolished settlements. The Cabinet was to vote on the emotionally charged matter today, and Israeli media reported that momentum was gaining against demolition.

Riots erupt in Belfast

BELFAST, Northern Ireland - Protestant extremists threw homemade grenades Saturday and seven police and two civilians were wounded in the latest fury over a restricted Belfast parade.

Protestants clashed with police, British troops and Catholic crowds in several parts of Belfast after authorities blocked the Orange Order - the territory's major Protestant brotherhood - from parading past the hard-line Catholic end of disputed Springfield Road.

Troops fight near Syria

TAL AFAR, Iraq - More than 5,000 Iraqi army and paramilitary troops backed by U.S. soldiers swept into this insurgent stronghold near the Syrian border Saturday, conducting house-to-house searches and battering down stone walls in the narrow, winding streets of the old city.

Late Saturday, the prime minister ordered the Rabiyah border crossing closed in an attempt to stanch the flow of insurgents from Syria, which is about 60 miles from Tal Afar.

Soldiers try to assassinate

Afghan defense minister

KABUL, Afghanistan - Afghan soldiers botched a brazen attempt to assassinate the defense minister at the capital's airport Saturday, while fighting in southern Afghanistan left 30 suspected militants dead, officials said.

- From wire reports