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2 company officials killed by Afghan guard

KABUL, Afghanistan --- A private guard working for the international shipping company DHL opened fire and killed the company's country director and his deputy Saturday before shooting himself, officials said.

The shootings took place in front of the DHL office in downtown Kabul. One Briton and one South African were killed, the British Foreign Office and South African government said.

A preliminary investigation found that one of the Afghan security guards protecting the compound opened fire on the car carrying the victims when it pulled into the company headquarters, said Mirza Mohammad Yarmal, the Interior Ministry official in charge of criminal investigations. The guard then put the barrel of his rifle to his head and killed himself, he said.

Mr. Yarmal said the guard was hired a month ago from an area where Pashtuns -- the ethnic group the Taliban draws its fighters from -- lives, but police had no evidence linking the guard to the insurgent militia. A Taliban spokesman denied the group was involved.

Hebron now reinforced by Palestinian forces

HEBRON, WEST BANK --- Nearly 600 newly trained Palestinian troops took up positions in the tense city of Hebron on Saturday as part of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' attempt to expand his control in the West Bank and keep Hamas in line.

Hebron, a former Hamas stronghold, is the third Palestinian city to be reinforced with Mr. Abbas' forces. The pre-dawn deployment signaled growing security cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

However, an Israeli army statement said the Palestinian operation was a temporary measure to help combat Hamas and maintain public order and did not constitute a transfer of overall security responsibility from Israeli to Palestinian forces.

General election will be called in Israel

JERUSALEM --- Prime Minister-designate Tzipi Livni has given up efforts to form a coalition government and will recommend early elections, Israeli radio stations reported Saturday night.

Israel Radio and Army Radio both said that after consulting with advisers during the evening, Ms. Livni decided not to continue coalition talks and will tell President Shimon Peres today to call a general election, most probably in February. That would be more than a year ahead of schedule.

There was no official announcement, and Ms. Livni's spokesman did not answer repeated phone calls.


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