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Three people killed in clashes in Gaza

Compiled from wire reports The Spokesman-Review

Jerusalem At least three people were killed and 50 injured in the Gaza Strip during clashes Sunday between Palestinian security forces and Hamas militants, Palestinian officials said.

The confrontations, which broke out after dark in two neighborhoods near Gaza City, left a Palestinian police officer and two civilian bystanders dead, Palestinian medical officials said. It was the worst violence between Palestinian security forces and militant gunmen since Israel completed its withdrawal from Gaza last month following a 38-year occupation.

There were conflicting reports over how the clashes began. Palestinian officials said gunfire erupted after officers interceded in a dispute between two men, one a member of Hamas.

But Hamas said its militants acted when Palestinian officers tried to arrest Mohammed Rantisi, a Hamas official who is the son of slain Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi. The elder Rantisi was killed by an Israeli air strike last year.

DeLay says he’ll still exert influence

Washington Republican Rep. Tom DeLay, forced to step down as House majority leader last week after being indicted, said Sunday that he’ll continue to be a power broker as he fights a conspiracy charge in Texas.

A defiant DeLay said on “Fox News Sunday” that the charge against him was trumped up by Texas Democrats, and he vowed to beat the charge against him.

DeLay is charged with one count of criminal conspiracy in an alleged scheme to launder corporate donations through the Republican National Committee for distribution to seven Republican candidates for the Texas Legislature.

Under party rules, the indictment forced DeLay to step aside from his leadership position until the issue is resolved. Nevertheless, DeLay said he will continue to exert influence through his close relationship with House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill.

“I can do my job with or without the title,” the Texan said.

Storms hitting both coasts of Mexico

La Paz, Mexico Hurricane Otis weakened to a tropical storm Sunday and headed north toward an unpopulated stretch of the Baja California Peninsula, while a tropical depression strengthened to a tropical storm just before hitting land in southern Mexico.

Tropical Storm Stan formed before dawn Sunday and then plowed into land about 40 miles southwest of Tulum, on the Yucatan Peninsula. It carried maximum sustained winds of 45 mph.

The storm was expected to dump up to 15 inches of rain in some areas of the Yucatan Peninsula and Belize before weakening to a tropical depression. No major damages or injuries were immediately reported, and the storm was expected to move mostly south of the popular resort of Cancun.

Along the Pacific coast, the Mexican government issued a tropical storm warning for the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula as Otis continued to sideswipe the narrow stretch of land. No injuries have been reported.

Conservatives gain momentum in Germany

Dresden, Germany Conservative challenger Angela Merkel’s party gained a seat Sunday in the last remaining district in parliamentary balloting, boosting her chances of becoming Germany’s first female chancellor and giving the party extra momentum in coalition talks to form a new government.

With all 260 electoral districts reporting, Andreas Laemmel from Merkel’s Christian Democrats won the contest for a seat in Dresden with 37 percent of the vote. He defeated Marlies Volkmer from Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s party, who had 32.1 percent.

While the outcome of the Dresden vote does not significantly alter the results of the Sept. 18 election, the strength of an extra seat in parliament is expected to give the conservatives a psychological advantage heading into coalition talks, which have been stalled because both Merkel and Schroeder claim a mandate to be chancellor.

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