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story.lead_photo.caption Israeli soldiers stand in front of a house in Beersheba, southern Israel, that was hit by a missile fired Wednesday from the Gaza Strip.

Israelis attack Gaza after rocket strike

JERUSALEM -- A rocket fired from Gaza struck a residential home in southern Israel early Wednesday and the Israeli military began attacking militant sites in Gaza in response after days of rising tensions.

The Magen David Adom medical service said a woman and her three children, whose home in Beersheba was hit, were being treated for shock. They had fled to their shelter after warning sirens woke them up shortly before 4 a.m. The mother's swift response likely saved their lives, as the home was destroyed.

The medical service said two other Beersheba residents were injured during the panic to seek cover.

The military said another rocket from Gaza landed in the sea, just off the coast of one of the larger cities in central Israel. No injuries were reported.

After the attacks, schools in Beersheba were closed and Israel's military chief was cutting short his visit to the United States to return and manage the crisis.

As a first response, Israeli military jets pounded Hamas targets across the Gaza Strip. The Gaza Health Ministry said a 25-year-old militant was killed inside one of the posts targeted. Three other people were wounded.

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman, said 20 Hamas targets were struck, including offensive tunnels, weapon workshops and naval shafts.

Suspect's sons tied to reporter's killing

ISLAMABAD -- Pakistani police say the sons of a suspected drug dealer arrested in the country's northwest have killed a local reporter who wrote about their father's case.

Wajid Ali, a police official in Haripur district, said Sohail Khan was gunned down because of his article in the Kay-2 newspaper about the arrest of Musarrat Iqbal in a narcotics case.

Ali said police are searching for Iqbal's sons, Ali Sher and Himayun Iqbal, who ambushed Khan's vehicle at a local bazaar and killed him on Tuesday.

Khan is the second Kay-2 journalist to be killed in just over a year in Haripur. Bakshish Elahi was gunned down in June last year.

Vietnam frees blogger, tells her to leave

HANOI, Vietnam -- Vietnam has freed a well-known blogger after two years in prison on the condition that she leave for the United States.

Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, known as "Mother Mushroom," was arrested in October 2016 and sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of defaming the Communist government. The conviction of the popular blogger, who wrote about human rights and industrial pollution, drew criticism from some Western governments and international human-rights groups.

Friends of the 39-year-old blogger said she was on her way to the U.S. with her mother and two young children.

Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International's Regional Director for East and South East Asia, said in a statement, "While Mother Mushroom is no longer imprisoned, the condition for her release was exile and there are over one hundred people languishing in jail because they peacefully spoke their mind -- in public, on blogs or on Facebook."

Quynh's release came as U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis visited Vietnam.

Taliban reject vote, kill Afghan hopeful

KABUL, Afghanistan -- A Taliban bombing in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province killed a candidate running in the parliamentary elections this weekend, a provincial official said, as attacks elsewhere in the country killed six policemen and two soldiers.

The attacks came as the Taliban warned teachers and students not to participate in the vote and not to allow schools to be used as polling centers. The insurgents said in a statement that they will target Saturday's elections, which they view as illegitimate, but that they do not want to harm civilians.

The blast in Helmand went off inside the campaign office of Abdul Jabar Qahraman, killing him and wounding seven people, said Omar Zwak, a spokesman for the provincial governor.

The Taliban promptly claimed responsibility for killing Qahraman.

Militant attacks have killed six other candidates, both before and after the 20-day campaign period started. Two candidates have been abducted, their fates unknown, and three others have been wounded in violence.

Early Wednesday, the Taliban attacked checkpoints in the northern Baghlan province, killing six policemen and wounding two others in a four-hour battle, according to provincial police chief Gen. Ekramuddin Sarih. He said about 10 insurgents were killed. There was no immediate comment from the Taliban.

Also, in eastern Maidan Wardak province, a suicide car bomber targeted a military vehicle, killing two army troops, said Hekmat Durani, spokesman for the provincial police chief.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

Photo by AP
Security forces investigate Wednesday after an explosion killed a parliamentary candidate in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province.

A Section on 10/18/2018

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