Thousands flee Congo fighting

KIWANJA, Congo - Sporadic gunfire and explosions echoed Wednesday around this town in eastern Congo, as rebels fought pro-government militiamen for a second day, forcing thousands of people to flee.

A wider cease-fire between the rebels and the government was holding further south around the provincial capital, however, as diplomats prepared to assemble a regional peace summit Friday in Kenya bringing together U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the presidents of Rwanda and Congo.

In Kiwanja, 45 miles north of the main city Goma, clashes erupted Tuesday between rebels and a militia known as the Mai Mai, but the violence eased Wednesday afternoon.

Medvedev: Russia to deploy missiles near Poland

MOSCOW - Russia will deploy short-range missiles near Poland to counter U.S. military plans in Eastern Europe, President Dmitry Medvedev warned Wednesday, setting a combative tone that clashed with global goodwill over Barack Obama's election.

In his first state of the nation speech, Medvedev blamed Washington for the war in Georgia and the world financial crisis and suggested it was up to Washington to mend badly damaged ties.

Medvedev also proposed increasing the Russian presidential term to six years from four - a change that could deepen Western concern over democracy in Russia and play into the hands of his mentor, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who has not ruled out a return to the Kremlin.

Mexico says jet crash an accident

MEXICO CITY - A conversation between pilots and the control tower gave no hint that anything was wrong moments before a plane carrying Mexico's second-most-powerful official suddenly dived into rush-hour traffic.

The death of Interior Secretary Juan Camilo Mourino was a serious setback for Mexico's U.S.-backed fight against drug smuggling. He was President Felipe Calderon's most trusted confidante as the government pursues a hardline strategy that has brought down top drug kingpins but has fueled brutal violence in Mexico.

Authorities said Wednesday that the crash, which killed 14 people in all, was mostly likely an accident. But they brought in U.S. and British investigators to help them rule out an attack.

Karzai demands Obama end civilian deaths

WECH BAGHTU, Afghanistan - The Afghan president congratulated Barack Obama and called on him Wednesday to halt civilian casualties as villagers said U.S. warplanes bombed a wedding party, killing 37 people - most of them children.

President Hamid Karzai said airstrikes cannot win the fight against terrorism.

'Our demand is that there will be no civilian casualties in Afghanistan. We cannot win the fight against terrorism with airstrikes,' Karzai said. 'This is my first demand of the new president of the United States - to put an end to civilian casualties.'

Hamas fires rockets at Israel

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers scrambled Wednesday to contain fallout from the deadliest outbreak of violence since a truce brought an uneasy peace to the area five months ago.

Gaza militants pounded southern Israel with dozens of rockets to avenge raids that left six militants dead, but the guns quickly fell silent with neither side appearing to have much to gain from renewed hostilities.

Bin Laden's son loses asylum bid in Spain

MADRID, Spain - Spain's Interior Ministry said it has rejected an asylum request from a son of Osama bin Laden.

A ministry official says the government determined that 27-year-old Omar Osama bin Laden did not 'meet the conditions necessary for entering Spain.'

Suicide bomber kills 6, wounds 12 in Baghdad

BAGHDAD - A suicide bomber rammed his car into a police patrol on the road to Baghdad's airport Wednesday, killing six people and wounding 12 others, police said.

Police said three officers were among those killed in the attack.

The heavily secured highway leading from central Baghdad to the capital's airport was once among the most dangerous stretches in Iraq. Insurgents staged almost daily attacks with roadside bombs and automatic weapons on U.S military convoys and civilian vehicles traveling to and from downtown Baghdad.