Thousands of Palestinians cross into Egypt as border breached

RAFAH, Gaza Strip - On foot, in cars and in donkey carts, tens of thousands of Gazans flooded into Egypt on Wednesday through a border fence blown up by militants - puncturing a gaping hole in Israel's airtight closure of the Gaza Strip and giving a boost to Hamas.

As waves of people swarmed through the destroyed barrier - some estimated the crowd in the hundreds of thousands - Egyptian security forces lined up on one side of the border and Hamas forces lined up on the other side. None of them interfered in any way, and it appeared Hamas militants actively participated in the border breach.

New al-Qaida tape calls for unity to support 'jihad'

WASHINGTON - An al-Qaida spokesman this week called for unity among Islamic militants worldwide in a new recorded message, according to a U.S. intelligence official.

The approximately 28-minute tape features al-Qaida spokesman Abu-Yahya al-Libi telling Islamic scholars to lend their weight to support the 'jihad,' that is, a holy obligation or struggle. The intelligence official said this is an apparent effort to counter some Islamic scholars who are criticizing al-Qaida's violent activities, saying they do not qualify as jihad.

The videotape, in Arabic, was posted on a well-known jihadist Web site Wednesday, according to the official.

Government and fighters in Congo reach truce

GOMA, Congo - Years of fighting in Congo's restive east ended - on paper at least - Wednesday as warlords and militia fighters signed a long-awaited peace accord with the government of this huge Central African country.

The deal commits all sides to an immediate cease-fire, followed by a pullback of fighters from key areas that will become a U.N.-patrolled buffer zone, said Vital Kamerhe, a government spokesman for the talks.

Observers praised the deal but said fulfilling it would be long and difficult work, with many details yet undecided.

Zimbabwe police fire tear gas into crowd headed to opposition rally

HARARE, Zimbabwe - Police fired tear gas and charged toward several hundred people making their way to a protest Wednesday, challenging hopes for free and fair campaigning ahead of Zimbabwe's national elections scheduled in March.

Police also briefly detained the leader of the opposition, Morgan Tsvangirai, opposition members said. Police Chief Superintendent Wayne Bvudzijena told South Africa's SABC television news police just wanted to talk to Tsvangirai and two other opposition leaders 'so we could establish what they intended to do today.'

Judge at Diana inquest reproaches Dodi Fayed's father

LONDON - The judge leading the inquest into the death of Princess Diana criticized wealthy businessman Mohamed Al Fayed on Wednesday for not withdrawing allegations that a bodyguard who survived the car crash is faking memory loss and was paid to tell lies.

Al Fayed has claimed that his son, Dodi Fayed, and the princess were targets of a conspiracy led by Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, and carried out by British security agents.

Retired officers ask Pakistan's leader to step down

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - An influential group of former military officers called on Pakistan's embattled president to step down, a move that could further undermine the U.S.-allied leader ahead of parliamentary elections next month.

A statement by the Pakistan Ex-Servicemen's Society blamed President Pervez Musharraf for the current crisis in the country and said the former army commander no longer 'represents the unity and the symbol of the federation as president.'

'This is in the supreme national interest and it makes it incumbent on him to step down,' said the statement signed by more than 100 former generals, admirals, air marshals and other retired officers and enlisted men.

Afghan journalist sentenced to death for brother's report

KABUL, Afghanistan - An Afghan journalist who was sentenced to death for distributing an article about Islam and women's rights is actually being punished for his brother's reporting on abuses by warlords, a media group said Wednesday.

Sayed Parwez Kaambakhsh, 23, was sentenced to death Tuesday by a three-judge panel in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif for distributing a report he printed off the Internet to fellow journalism students at Balkh University.

The article asks why men can have four wives but women can't have multiple husbands.