North Korea readies new missile test

SEOUL, South Korea - North Korea appears to be preparing to test an advanced missile designed to reach the United States, a U.S. official said Monday, ratcheting up tensions after its second underground nuclear test.

The reclusive communist country also reportedly bolstered its defenses and conducted amphibious assault exercises along its western shore, near disputed waters where deadly naval clashes with the South have occurred in the past decade.

Satellite images and other intelligence indicated the North had transported its most advanced long-range missile to the new Dongchang-ni facility near China and could be ready to be fired in the next week or so, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported.

36 illegal miners killed in South African fire

JOHANNESBURG - An underground fire in an abandoned shaft has apparently killed 36 illegal miners, South Africa's Harmony Gold Mining Company Limited said Monday.

In a statement, the company said the bodies were brought to the surface by other illegal miners over the weekend.

Harmony said it was unclear if other illegal miners had died at the Eland shaft in central South Africa. It said it would not send its own workers in to search because 'the abandoned mining areas where the criminal miners have been active are extremely dangerous.'

4 US troops killed in Afghan roadside blasts

KABUL - Two roadside bombs that struck back-to-back and only miles apart hit two U.S. military vehicles in Afghanistan Monday, killing four American troops, U.S. and Afghan officials said.

U.S. military officials have predicted a 50 percent spike in IED attacks in Afghanistan this year as militants step up attacks and thousands of more troops pour into the country.

The deaths bring to 64 the number of U.S. forces killed in Afghanistan this year, according to an Associated Press count based on military figures. That far surpasses the 36 troops killed through the first five months of 2008, the deadliest year for American forces since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion to oust the Taliban.