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News update

Tuesday, February 13

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Editor's Note: The CNN Wire is a running log of the latest news from CNN World Headquarters, reported by CNN's correspondents and producers, and The CNN Wire editors. "Posted" times are Eastern Standard.

Iranian authorities arrest 4 in linkage to terrorist attack

From CNN's Shirzad Bozorgmher

TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) -- Iranian authorities arrested four people in connection with a car bomb attack on an Iranian military bus in the southeastern Iranian border town of Zahedan Wednesday morning, state-run IRINN television reported.

The blast left behind a charred, blood-splattered frame along with at least 18 dead and others wounded, state-run Iranian news agency IRNA reported.

Iran's semi-official FARS news agency reported four people in a car cut off the bus, which belonged to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, around 6:30 am (10 p.m. ET) and sped away on two motorcycles -- later detonating the explosives by remote control.

FARS reported two of the arrested may be affiliated with a small terrorist group that has a history of attacking Iranian border posts.

The agency, citing an Iranian security official, said one of the arrested men was a would-be suicide bomber who tried to detonate his explosives, while another was carrying a camera to make a video of the attack. (Posted 2:57 a.m.)

Terrorist attack kills 18 on southern Iranian border

From CNN's Shirzad Bozorgmher

TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) -- A car bomb ripped through an Iranian military bus in the southeastern Iranian border town of Zahedan Wednesday morning, leaving behind a charred, blood-splattered frame along with at least 18 dead and others wounded, state-run Iranian news agency IRNA reported.

A witness told IRNA the car blew up as soon as the bus, which belonged to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, arrived to pick up military personnel at a barracks.

Two motorcycle riders reportedly fired shots at the bus, forcing it to stop near the car bomb when it was then detonated by remote control, a witness said.

Emergency workers rushed the wounded into ambulances, but authorities did not immediately report how many were hurt. (Posted 2:51 a.m.)

List of men claiming to be father of Anna Nicole Smith's child grows

NASSAU, Bahamas (CNN) -- In the wake of Anna Nicole Smith's sudden death last week a growing list of men claim they could be the father of her 5-month-old baby Dannielynn.

Although Anna Nicole Smith's partner, Howard K. Stern has claimed to be the child's father, and is listed on her birth certificate, a second man, Larry Birkhead, is contesting that in court, claiming he is the father.

Also last week, a third man, Zsa Zsa Gabor's husband, Frederic von Anhalt, told CNN's "Larry King Live" he could be Dannielynn's father.

"I don't say yes and I don't say no," he said, but added he knows who the real father is. "Let's see how the court rules. ... If it goes to Larry or Howard, I jump in."

Several other men also say they may have fathered the child, including an Austrian bodybuilder, who used to be her bodyguard. (Posted 2:49 a.m.)

Bahamian Supreme Court: Smith baby stays in Bahamas for now

NASSAU, Bahamas (CNN) -- Like the paternity questions surrounding Anna Nicole Smith's baby Dannielynn, a battle is being waged over who will be granted custody of the 5-month-old child.

Courthouses from California to the Caribbean are looking into the case.

Interviewed outside the Bahamian Supreme Court Tuesday, Jamal Davis, an attorney for Smith's mother Vergie Arthur said Dannielynn can not be taken from Bahamas after the court issued an injunction in the case.

"There is an order preventing the young child from being removed from the jurisdiction of the commonwealth of the Bahamas until the substantive application is heard," Davis said in an interview with CNN TV affiliate WSVN.

The details of the substantive application and the date of the hearing were not immediately known. (Posted 2:48 a.m.)

U.S. Marine Corps: Anti-aircraft munitions brought down latest U.S. helicopter

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. military officials determined anti-aircraft munitions caused the latest U.S. helicopter crash, not mechanical failure as was previously suspected, the U.S. Marine Corps said in a statement released Wednesday.

After further investigation "using all available means," the cause of the crash was the result of "hostile fire," a military spokesman said.

All seven military personnel on board the CH-46 Sea Knight were killed Feb. 7 in Anbar province. This was the fifth U.S. helicopter that has been brought down in Iraq in recent weeks by insurgent fire, U.S. military officials said. (Posted 2:03 a.m.)

Ogden cop who confronted mall shooter: 'I don't necessarily feel like a hero'

OGDEN, Utah (CNN) -- An Ogden police officer who found himself confronting a shooting suspect in a Salt Lake City mall while off-duty and on a Valentine's Day date with his wife -- actions that saw him hailed as a hero by two police departments and elected officials -- said Tuesday he did nothing that his fellow officers would not have done.

Sulejmen Talovic, 18, entered the mall with two weapons Monday, and "had one thing on his mind, and that was to kill a large number of people," Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank said earlier Tuesday. Authorities said Talovic killed five people and wounded four more before he was fatally shot by police. The motive for the shooting remained unknown.

Officer Ken Hammond and his wife, Sarita, had eaten a Valentine's Day dinner and walked through the Trolley Square mall afterward. At one point, she made a stop, he said, and he heard a "sort of popping noise" while sitting on a bench, but dismissed it as mall construction.

As the couple was walking, Hammond said, he saw "seriously injured" people. Looking in the other direction, he said, he saw a man with a shotgun walking out of the business where the injured people were. He told his wife to go back to the restaurant and call 911.

Although he was standing on the second floor and the suspect was on the first floor, he said he identified himself as a police officer and drew his weapon. The suspect shot at him twice but missed him, he said. He laid on the ground but was concerned the suspect might come up the escalators located behind him. (Posted 9:05 p.m.)

Ex-CIA official, defense contractor indicted in Cunningham probe

SAN DIEGO (CNN) -- A California defense contractor provided the CIA's No. 3 official, his longtime friend, with expensive vacations and meals in exchange for steering CIA business to his company, federal prosecutors alleged Tuesday.

Prosecutors announced indictments against Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, who resigned as executive director of the CIA in May 2006, and defense contractor Brent Wilkes on Tuesday as part of the the same bribery probe that sent former congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham to prison last year.

A 35-count federal indictment accuses Wilkes of paying for as much as $700,000 in resort outings, private jets, limousines, antiques and even prostitutes for Cunningham in exchange for the lawmaker's help steering federal business his way.

And in an 11-count indictment, prosecutors said Foggo corruptly pressured subordinates to award water and procurement services contracts to Wilkes and his company, ADCS Inc. (Posted 8:17 p.m.)

Senate Democrats to move ahead with House Iraq resolution, not Warner-Levin

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Senate Democrats have decided to push aside a stalled bipartisan resolution opposing President Bush's troop boost in Iraq in favor of a more simplified measure now making its way through the House, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday.

Reid said he would use the House resolution as the "moving piece of legislation" in the Senate, instead of a resolution crafted by Sens. John Warner, R-Va., and Carl Levin, D-Mich., which has stalled because of a procedural dispute with Republicans.

"I think it's so much more direct -- we support the troops, we're opposed to the surge. Perfect," Reid told reporters.

Senate Democratic leaders had been supporting the Warner-Levin resolution, which expresses disapproval of Bush's plan to send an additional 21,000 troops to Iraq but also opposes trying to thwart it by cutting off funding, as some Iraq war critics have demanded. (Posted 7:29 p.m.)

Muqtada al-Sadr in Iran?

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has been in Iran for the past two or three weeks, senior administration officials said Tuesday.

Iraqi sources have not confirmed al-Sadr's departure, and a source close to him told CNN that his presence in Iran is a "rumor." As recently as Thursday, al-Sadr's office told CNN the cleric was in Najaf.

The U.S. officials did not know why al-Sadr had departed Iraq for Iran or how long he might stay. The officials suggested his departure was tied to the increase of American troops ordered by President Bush and that it could be a sign that he was in fear for his life.

Whatever the reason, it was not clear what effect al-Sadr's absence -- if he is, in fact, in Iran -- would have on his Mehdi Army. (Posted 7:24 p.m.)

House debate begins on resolution opposing Bush's Iraq troop surge

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The House began debate Tuesday on a resolution expressing disapproval of President Bush's plan to boost troop numbers in Iraq, with Democrats arguing the resolution would show Bush no longer has a "blank check" to pursue a misguided policy, and Republicans warning it would send the wrong message, both to U.S. troops and Islamic terrorists.

Kicking off the debate, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., charged that the American people had "lost faith" in Bush's handling of the Iraq war, and she said his proposed deployment of an additional 21,000 troops would not improve the situation.

To bolster their case, Democrats began their parade of debate speakers with Iraq war veterans elected in last year's Democratic sweep of Congress. (Posted 6:46 p.m.)

U.S. citizen accused of taking part in 'jihad' in Somalia

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A U.S. citizen has been charged in a criminal complaint in Houston for allegedly engaging in a "jihad" for al Qaeda on behalf of Islamic forces fighting in Somalia.

Daniel Maldonado, 28, was captured by the Kenyan military in January as he fled Somalia to avoid advancing Ethiopian forces, according to the complaint.

Maldonado is charged with receiving training from a foreign terrorist group and participating in a bombing conspiracy outside the United States.

A former Houston resident, he was turned over to U.S. authorities in Kenya last weekend and flown to Houston, where he appeared in court Tuesday. He was ordered held without bond pending a detention hearing Feb. 20. --From Justice Producer Terry Frieden (Posted 5:40 p.m.)

Attorney: Smith's partner, mother attempting to work out deal for release of her body

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (CNN) -- Anna Nicole Smith's partner, Howard K. Stern, and her mother, Virgie Arthur, are attempting to work out a deal for the release of her body, but Stern is prepared to go to court if necessary, his attorney told CNN on Tuesday.

"This has really little to do with Mr. Stern or her mother," attorney Krista Barth said. "It has to do with the wishes of Anna Nicole. That's what we're trying to do here. ... It's about allowing someone to rest in peace."

Stern claims Smith -- who was found unconscious and unresponsive in a Florida hotel room Thursday and was pronounced dead afterward -- told him she wanted to be buried near her son, Daniel, in the Bahamas, Barth said. Daniel Smith died in September.

Arthur's Florida attorney did not immediately return a call from CNN seeking comment. Barth indicated Arthur wants Smith buried in her native state of Texas. (Posted 5:06 p.m.)

Ex-CIA official, defense contractor indicted in Cunningham probe

SAN DIEGO (CNN) -- The CIA's former third-ranking official and a California defense contractor have been indicted on corruption charges in the same bribery probe that sent former congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham to prison, federal prosecutors announced Tuesday.

Kyle "Dusty" Foggo quit his post as the CIA's executive director in May 2006 after prosecutors began looking into his ties with a longtime friend, Brent Wilkes. Tuesday, prosecutors alleged that Foggo -- in exchange for vacations on private jets, expensive meals and a promise of future employment -- pressured subordinates to award water and procurement services contracts to Wilkes and his company, ADCS Inc.

Foggo "affirmatively hid" the gifts from his superiors at the CIA before his resignation, U.S. attorney Carol Lam told reporters.

Wilkes has been charged with bribery, conspiracy, money laundering, wire fraud and depriving taxpayers of honest services in a 35-count indictment. In addition to charges relating to Foggo, he is accused of bribing Cunningham -- now serving an eight-year prison term -- to the tune of $700,000 to get the congressman to steer government contracts his way.

Foggo was named to the CIA's No. 3 post, in charge of the spy agency's day-to-day operations, by then-Director Porter Goss. He resigned a week after Goss was forced out by widespread criticism of his management, and federal agents raided his home days later. Goss has not been accused of wrongdoing in the case. (Posted 4:37 p.m.)

Defense close to resting its case in Libby trial

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Neither Vice President Dick Cheney nor defendant Lewis "Scooter" Libby will be called as defense witnesses in Libby's perjury trial, and the defense plans to rest its case Wednesday, Defense Attorney Ted Wells said Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the federal judge excused the jury early because of snow, and asked them to reconvene at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. The judge and attorneys will come in at 11:30 a.m. to take care of legal business.

Wells told the court that "over the lunch hour, Mr. (defense attorney William) Jeffress and I advised the lawyer for the vice president that we did not intend to call the vice president. He would have been available to testify on Thursday."

He added, "We also indicated to Mr. Libby, except for putting on the briefers and certain documentary evidence, that we should rest our case. Mr. Libby has indicated it is his intention to follow our advice -- that we will rest his case tomorrow." --From CNN's Paul Courson (Posted 4:27 p.m.)

Pace appears to dispute administration's stance on Iran

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Peter Pace appeared to question Tuesday administration assertions that the Iranian government is involved in manufacturing weapons and exporting them to Shiite groups in Iraq.

"We know that the explosively formed penetrators are manufactured in Iran," Pace told Voice of America during a trip to Indonesia about what senior military officials called EFPs.

"What I would not say is that the Iranian government per se knows about this. It is clear that Iranians are involved and it is clear that materials from Iran are involved, but I would not say, based on what I know, that the Iranian government clearly knows or is complicit."

White House spokesman Tony Snow sought Tuesday to interpret the general's comments as in line with the administration's viewpoint, and said he had just spoken by telephone with Pace, who told him he and White House officials are on the same page. (Posted 3:42 p.m.)

Lebanese prime minister vows to stand against violence, calls to resign

BEIRUT (CNN) -- As a pair of bomb blasts aboard commuter buses killed three people in Lebanon Tuesday, the country's prime minister vowed to stand firm against calls for him to resign.

Prime Minister Fouad Siniora made his remarks on the eve of the second anniversary of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, when twin demonstrations are planned by supporters of the Western-backed government and supporters of Syrian-backed Hezbollah.

"We will not bow to the politics of others, and we will not accept for Lebanon to be a struggle ground," Siniora said in a nationally televised address. "And we believe in staying steadfast. We will not bow to turmoil and division."

In Beirut, security forces prepared for Wednesday's demonstrations, putting up razor wire to help keep the rival factions apart. The demonstrators are expected to converge in and around Hariri's burial site, close to the downtown encampment of tents manned by mostly Shia Muslims and some Christian factions allied with Hezbollah. (Posted 3:27 p.m.)

Defense: Neither Cheney nor Libby to testify in Libby trial

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Neither Vice President Dick Cheney nor Lewis "Scooter" Libby will testify in Libby's perjury trial, the defense announced in court Tuesday. (Posted 2:48 p.m.)

Chertoff warns against delaying implementation of drivers' license standards

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The secretary of homeland security said Tuesday Congress should not delay implementation of the Real ID Act, which sets federal security standards for state drivers' licenses, suggesting any delay could help terrorists.

"If we don't get it done now, someone will be sitting around explaining to the next 9/11 commission why we didn't do it," Secretary Michael Chertoff told a Senate committee. He said the Homeland Security Department will issue drivers' license standards to the states this month.

Last week, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, introduced a bill to delay implementation of the law for two years, saying states do not have the ability to meet the May 2008 deadline. The National Governors Association and others have also objected to the costs, which they estimate as more than $11 billion over five years.

But Chertoff said the 2008 deadline would mark the beginning of implementation, not a "drop dead" date. And he said the standards are designed to be simple and cost-efficient. --From CNN Producer Mike M. Ahlers (Posted 2:16 p.m.)

Georgia congressman Norwood dies at 65

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood died Tuesday at 65 after a long battle with cancer and lung disease, just days after deciding to quit medical treatment, his office announced Tuesday.

Norwood, R-Ga., left Washington last week to return to his home in Augusta, Ga., for hospice care.

The 65-year-old former dentist suffered from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis -- a chronic, untreatable condition -- and lung cancer. He declined further treatment last week after doctors found a tumor on his liver.

The House of Representatives, now embroiled in debate on the war in Iraq, held a moment of silence after his death was announced Tuesday afternoon. (Posted 2:15 p.m.)

Rice: Tentative deal on North Korea nukes could be a 'message to Iran'

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In the wake of a tentative deal for North Korea to begin closing down its nuclear program in exchange for millions of dollars in energy and financial aid, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday the agreement could be a message to Iran.

At a briefing in Washington hours after news of the deal came from Beijing, where six-party talks on the matter were wrapping up, Rice was asked by a reporter if promising such aid to Pyongyang would be seen by Tehran as rewarding "bad behavior."

"Why shouldn't it be seen as a message to Iran that the international community is able to bring together its resources, particularly when regionally affected states work together, and that the strong diplomacy and the cohesiveness of the five parties and the six-party talks has finally achieved results?" she asked. "I think that would be the message."

Iran has refused to put its nuclear program on hold, and has said that enriching uranium is its sovereign right. (Posted 1:45 p.m.)

Iraq to temporarily close border crossings with Iran, Syria; official says security equipment to be upgraded

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- The Iraqi commander in charge of the Baghdad security plan announced Tuesday that Iraq will temporarily close all of its border crossings with Iran and Syria in an attempt to stem the flow of weapons and insurgents into Iraq. Another official said security equipment at the crossings will be upgraded during the closures.

Speaking on Iraqiya state television, Lt. Gen. Abboud Qanbar read a statement from Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki announcing that Iraq will close its two border crossings with Syria and four with Iran for 72 hours, but he did not say when the closings will take place.

During the temporary closures, Iraqi officials will install improved security equipment at the checkpoints, including improved bomb detection equipment, an Iraqi interior ministry official told CNN. -- From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq and Jomana Karadsheh (Posted 1:35 p.m.)

Witness: Libby juggled two full-time jobs, sometimes had 'awful' memory

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The man who replaced Lewis "Scooter" Libby as Vice President Dick Cheney's national security adviser said Tuesday that Libby effectively had two full-time jobs when he was at the White House -- and his memory wasn't always the best.

John Hannah said Libby's workload could be "overwhelming." Hannah was given Libby's job after Libby resigned in October 2005, following his indictment. Until then, Hannah was on Cheney's national security staff, and worked closely with him.

Hannah's testimony is providing a surrogate look at the typical day the defendant faced at the White House, holding three titles: chief of staff and national security adviser to Cheney, and assistant to President Bush.

"On certain things Scooter just had an awful memory," Hannah said. --From CNN's Paul Courson (Posted 12:17 p.m.)

Plane crashes at airport in Moscow, pilot injured

MOSCOW (CNN) -- A pilot was injured Tuesday when a plane crashed as it took off from Moscow's Vnukovo airport, a spokesman for the airport said.

Spokesman Konstantin Konanykhin said the Challenger-850 aircraft was carrying no passengers when it crashed and caught on fire.

The pilot, one of three crew members aboard, was the only person injured, the spokesman said. The plane was bound for Berlin, Konanykhin added.

The airport is closed while the debris from the crash is removed, he said. -- CNN Producer Maxim Tkachenko contributed to this report (Posted 11:36 a.m.)

Italian police uncover plan to send $65 million worth of weapons, ammo to Libya, Iraq

ROME (CNN) -- Italian authorities announced Tuesday they have uncovered an arms smuggling ring in which more than $65 million worth of weapons and ammunition from Russia and China were apparently going to be funneled to Iraq and Libya.

Italian military police arrested four men across Italy early Monday in connection with the arms smuggling ring, which police stumbled upon a year ago while investigating a drug ring in the central town of Terni, Lt. Col. Rocco Amoruso said. Twelve others were arrested in connection with the drug ring.

Among the four arrested was an Italian general manager of an intermediary company in Malta -- a small island nation south of Sicily -- where police believe the weapons were to be transferred before reaching their final destinations.

Italian police could not confirm a report in the Malta Independent that the Libyans were acting as middle men for Iraqi insurgents. The newspaper said it based the information on coded e-mails recovered by Italian agents.

The four men were negotiating with a Chinese production company about the sale of 500,000 AK47 Kalashnikov assault rifles and 10 million rounds of ammunition to Libyan government officials, according to a news release from the Italian military police.

In the final part of the investigation, police uncovered similar negotiations for another sale of over 100,000 AK47s and machine guns from Russia to Iraq through a Bulgarian intermediary and a person who identified himself as a buyer for the Iraqi government. That deal was still in an early stage and no arms had been sent, Amoruso said. (Posted 11:33 a.m.)

Police trying to determine motive in mall shooting that left 6 dead

SALT LAKE CITY (CNN) -- Police Tuesday were trying to piece together a motive for a shooting at a mall that left six people -- including the gunman -- dead.

The 18-year-old gunman was killed in a shootout with police, authorities said, after he walked through the Trolley Square Mall Monday evening randomly shooting at people with a shotgun and a handgun.

A 15-year-old girl, two 28-year-old women, a 24-year-old man and a 52-year-old-man were killed by the gunman, police said, and four people were admitted to hospitals with injuries ranging from serious to critical.

The suspect was a resident of Salt Lake City, but police detective Robin Snyder said it was not known if he had a criminal history. (Posted 10:57 a.m.)

House to consider non-binding resolution opposing Bush's Iraq troop surge

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- House lawmakers Tuesday will consider a simple, two-sentence resolution expressing disapproval of President Bush's plan to send additional troops to Iraq, setting the stage for a pivotal and pointed debate over the policy this week.

The resolution was unveiled by House Democrats on Monday.

House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio., challenged Democratic leaders to permit a vote on a Republican alternative that would preclude lawmakers from trying to stop the deployment by cutting off funding.(Posted 9:57 a.m.)

Romney kicks off White House bid in Michigan

DEARBORN, Mich. (CNN) -- Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was in his native state of Michigan Tuesday to officially kick off his bid for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.

"With the fine people of Michigan before us, and with my sweetheart beside me, I declare my intention to run for president of the United States," Romney told a crowd at the Henry Ford Museum.

After the announcement, Romney will embark on a four-day, six-state tour that will include stops in three crucial early primary and caucus states -- Iowa, South Carolina and New Hampshire -- as well as Massachusetts and Florida. (Posted 9:30 a.m.)

Car bomb kills 4 in Baghdad

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A car bomb detonated near a bakery in southeastern Baghdad Tuesday afternoon, killing four people and wounding four others, a Baghdad police official said.

The bombing happened in the Shiite distrcit of al-Amin near al-Mustafa bakery. -- From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq (Posted 9:22 a.m.)

U.S. envoy defends disarmament deal with North Korea

BEIJING (CNN) -- U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill on Tuesday defended the deal to get North Korea to disarm in exchange for fuel aid, saying it is different than the policy developed under President Bill Clinton's administration because it is a multilateral agreement.

"This is not a bilateral deal between the U.S. and North Korea," Hill told CNN's "American Morning." "This involves six parties, with China in the share. I think the deal here is that North Korea has made certain commitments not only to us, but to all of its neighbors."

Russia, Japan and South Korea also negotiated the deal, under which North Korea would begin to close down its nuclear program in exchange for $300 million in energy and financial aid. Working groups will meet in March to implement the terms of the agreement.

John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, denounced the deal, saying it will only encourage other countries trying to secure nuclear weapons. "It sends exactly the wrong signal to would-be proliferators around the world: If you hold out long enough and wear down the State Department negotiators, eventually you get rewarded," Bolton said on CNN's "The Situation Room."

The agreement is a turn-around from the previous hard-line stance taken by the Bush administration. (Posted 9:09 a.m.)

Imports, oil and a struggling U.S. auto industries sink trade balance

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The United States had a record $763.6 billion trade gap in 2006, as record oil prices, a struggling U.S. auto industry and America's appetite for imported goods resulted in a 6.5 percent rise in the deficit between imports and exports.

The full-year trade gap was included in the December trade report, which put the monthly gap at $61.2 billion, up from $58.1 billion in November. That was more than the forecast of a December trade deficit of $59.5 billion.

Record oil prices during the year were a major factor in the widening trade gap, even though oil prices retreated in the fourth quarter.

But there were other major factors feeding into the widening gap, including the loss of market share by U.S. automakers such as General Motors, Ford Motor and the Chrysler Group unit of DaimlerChrysler to Asian-based brands such as Toyota Motor and Honda Motor. (Posted 9:06 a.m.)

Palestinian Islamic Jihad threatens to attack U.S. targets in the Middle East if its leader is attacked

GAZA CITY (CNN) -- Palestinian Islamic Jihad, designated an international terrorist organization by the United States government, vowed Tuesday to strike U.S. targets in the Middle East if the United States goes after its exiled leader in Syria.

Abu Ahmed, a spokesman for the military wing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad based in Gaza, told CNN that if the United States attacks Ramadan Abdullah Mohammad Shallah, Islamic Jihad will respond with attacks on U.S. targets in the region.

The U.S. State Department is offering a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the apprehension or conviction of Shallah.

A wanted poster on an FBI Web site describes him as being "wanted for conspiracy to conduct the affairs of the designated international terrorist organization known as the 'Palestinian Islamic Jihad' (PIJ) through a pattern of racketeering activities such as bombings, murders, extortions, and money laundering." (Posted 8:59 a.m.)

U.S. Marine Corps believes latest U.S. helicopter crash was due to ground fire

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. Marine Corps now believes that the latest U.S. helicopter crash in Iraq was not due to mechanical failure as first suggested, but that it was most likely shot down by insurgents, a senior U.S. Marine Corps officer told CNN Tuesday.

After reviewing a "very convincing" videotape posted by an insurgent group on the Internet, the officer said, Marines now believe that the CH-46 Sea Knight was brought down in Anbar province Feb. 7 most likely by a surface-to-air missile. All seven military personnel on board the helicopter were killed.

This was the fifth U.S. helicopter that has been brought down in Iraq in recent weeks by insurgent fire, U.S. military officials said.

The insurgent video was the major piece of evidence leading to the revised conclusion, the senior Marine Corps officer said, because most of the wreckage of the aircraft was destroyed by fire when it crashed, and what remained was destroyed by the Marines who recovered the bodies so it wouldn't fall into enemy hands.

The original conclusion -- that mechanical failure brought the aircraft down -- was based on reports from two other helicopters flying nearby. Those pilots said they did not see any smoke trail from a missile or rocket and that the helicopter was flying at an altitude above the range of small arms fire when it went down. -- From CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr (Posted 8:31 a.m.)

6 killed in 7 separate attacks in northern Algeria

ALGIERS, Algeria (CNN) -- Six people were killed and 13 were wounded Tuesday in seven attacks in northern Algeria, a statement from the country's interior minister said. The statement did not say if there was a claim of responsibility in the attacks.

Four people were killed and three were wounded when a car bomb exploded in the village of Si Mustapha in the Boumerdes province, according to the state-run news agency Algerie Presse Service. In the same province, two bombs exploded in the village of Souk El Had, wounding five members of the security services, the interior ministry statement said.

A car bomb explosion in the village of Boumerdes, the capital of the province, injured one security officer, the statement added. In the neighboring province of Tizi Ouzou, a car bomb that was detonated by remote control in Mekla village killed two members of the security services and wounded two others, the ministry said. (Posted 7:52 a.m.)

Nuclear disarmament agreement reached with North Korea

BEIJING (CNN) -- North Korea Tuesday agreed to a deal to begin to close down its nuclear program in exchange for $300 million in energy and financial aid, a Chinese diplomat said in a statement at the close of six-party talks.

"With the disarmament of North Korea's nuclear facilities as the final goal, North Korea will close and shut down its Yongbyon nuclear complex," said Chinese envoy Wu Dawei. "North Korea will invite inspectors back to North Korea to do the necessary inspections."

As part of the deal, North Korea must make the steps within 60 days and, as a result, will receive 50,000 tons of fuel oil or financial aid of an equal amount.

Once Pyongyang takes additional steps to disable its nuclear program, including taking inventory of its plutonium stockpile, North Korea will qualify for another 950,000 tons of fuel oil of equivalent aid.

Another part of the deal calls for the United States and North Korea to attempt to normalize relations and work toward the removal of Pyongyang from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terror. These steps must also be made within the next 60 days. (Posted 5:55 a.m.)

Filipino hostages freed

ABUJA, Nigeria (CNN) -- A group of 24 Filipino hostages kidnapped more than three weeks ago were freed Tuesday, a spokesman Baco-Liner, their employer, said Tuesday.

According to the spokesman, all the men are in good health and were headed for Warri, Nigeria, their original destination before being abducted from a Baco-Liner cargo ship on January 20.

The Nigerian government was contacted regarding their release, but did not have an immediate response. (Posted 5:15 a.m.)

Israel kills Palestinian militant, detonates explosive device

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israeli soldiers opened fire on a pair of Palestinian militants near Israel's border with northern Gaza Tuesday, killing one of the men and detonating an explosive device, an Israel Defense Forces spokeswoman said.

According to IDF, Israeli forces have discovered 18 explosive devices along the Gaza border since the November 26 truce.

Sources with the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a Fatah-affiliated militant group, confirmed that one of its members was killed by IDF in northern Gaza. (Posted 4:10 a.m.)

Suicide truck bomb kills at least 16, wounds 40

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A suicide bomber detonated a powerful truck bomb outside a Ministry of Trade food warehouse in northwestern Baghdad Tuesday, killing at least 16 people and wounding 40 others, an Interior Ministry official said.

The attack took place around 10 a.m. (2 a.m. ET) in the capital's Iskan district, a predominantly Shia area of town. . (Posted 4:10 a.m.)

Explosions hit pair of buses north of Beirut, kill at least 3

BEIRUT (CNN) -- A pair of explosions hit two small buses in a Christian mountain town north of Beirut Tuesday morning, killing at least three people and wounding seven, authorities and Red Cross officials said.

A Lebanese army official said the attacks took place in Ain Alak in the country's Metn region and came one day before the second anniversary of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Ain Alak is near Bikfaya, the home town of former President Amin Gemayel. His son Pierre was assassinated by gunmen in November and was Lebanon's industry minister at the time of his death. (Posted 3:20 a.m.)

4 dead in Philly shooting, including gunman, 1 critically wounded

PHILADELPHIA (CNN) -- A gunman shot and killed three men at a business Monday night before turning the gun on himself and taking his own life, police said.

A fifth man was critically wounded in the shooting at the Philadelphia Naval Business Center.

Philadelphia Deputy Police Commissioner Richard Ross said there was conflicting information about the business where the shootings took place, but it was believed to be investment firm, possibly dealing with real estate or banking.

Ross also said the wounded man was shot in the stomach and taken to a hospital. The nursing supervisor at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital told CNN they received a patient with a gunshot wound who is in critical condition. (Posted 12:55 a.m.)


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