Iran's president urges Arabs to stop Israel

TEHRAN, Iran - Iran's president urged Arab leaders Wednesday to cut all contacts with Israel and use their political and economic influence to pressure the Israelis to halt their offensive in Gaza.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told Al-Manar television, owned by the Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah, that the Arabs should also pressure Israel's Western backers to stop the fighting, which Palestinian health officials said has killed more than 1,000 people in the Gaza Strip.

Iran is Hamas' main backer, providing political and financial support. Iran denies sending Hamas weapons.

Bin Laden urges jihad on Israel

CAIRO, Egypt - Osama bin Laden urged Muslims to launch a jihad against Israel, seeking to harness anger over the Gaza offensive with a new message posted on the Internet on Wednesday.

The al-Qaida chief vowed to open 'new fronts' against the U.S. and its allies beyond Iraq and Afghanistan and also criticized Arab leaders, accusing most of them of being allies of the U.S. and Israel.

The White House dismissed the call to jihad, saying it reflects bin Laden's isolation and shows he is trying to remain relevant at a time when his ideology and mission are being challenged.

Insurgents attack presidential palace in Somalia

MOGADISHU, Somalia - Islamic insurgents attacked Somalia's presidential palace and five civilians were killed Wednesday, underscoring fears the country could collapse into further chaos only a day after Ethiopian troops handed over security duties to a Somali force.

The extremist group at the center of the fighting, which wants to establish an Islamic state in Somalia, said it now would focus its attacks on the thousands of African Union peacekeepers in the country.

Sri Lanka seizes key peninsula

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - Sri Lankan government forces seized a final strip of Tamil Tiger rebel-held land in the north Wednesday, securing control of the symbolic heart of the 25-year separatist insurgency, the military said.

The Jaffna peninsula is the cultural capital of Sri Lanka's ethnic minority Tamils. Taking full control of the territory after nine years is a strategic and symbolic victory for the government.