World News: Koreas face off as South begins island military drills

SOUTH Korea today began live-fire drills from a front line island bombed last month by North Korea, in defiance of the North's threats to attack again.

The Defence Ministry said the drills started today on Yeonpyeong Island.

South Korea conducted the one-day live-fire drills from the tiny enclave of fishing communities and military bases seven miles from North Korean shores.

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The island was shelled by the North after similar drills last month. Two marines and two civilians were killed.

The North considers the waters around Yeonpyeong its own territory and has threatened to retaliate for any new drills.

Residents, local officials and journalists on Yeonpyeong and four other islands were ordered to evacuate to underground bomb shelters because of possible attacks by North Korea.

The developments came after UN diplomats meeting in New York failed to find any solution to ease fears of a new war on the Korean peninsula.

The North has warned of a "catastrophe" if South Korea goes ahead with the drills. South Korea's military said it would "immediately and sternly" deal with any provocation by North Korea.

Rocket attack hits Nato convoy

A PAKISTANI government official today said militants had fired rockets at a Nato convoy carrying supplies to Afghanistan, destroying two oil tankers and wounding two people.

Traffic along the route has been suspended following the attack in the Khyber tribal region.

27 killed in oil pipeline blast

A MASSIVE oil pipeline explosion has laid waste to parts of a central Mexican city, incinerating people, cars, houses and trees as gushing crude oil turned streets into flaming rivers.

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At least 27 people were killed, 12 of them children, in a disaster authorities blamed on oil thieves.

The blast in San Martin Texmelucan, estimated to have affected a three-mile radius, scorched homes and cars and left metal and pavement twisted from the heat.

Ivory Coast abuse fears

THE United Nations said there was growing evidence of "massive violations of human rights" since Ivory Coast's disputed election.

The UN said it would remain in Ivory Coast despite demands from the man refusing to give up the presidency that peacekeepers get out.

Abbas meets Israeli lawmakers

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has held a rare meeting with dozens of Israeli lawmakers, ex-generals and peace activists, urging them to tell the Israeli public that he opposes violence and is committed to reaching a peace deal.

Asylum ship sinking death toll increases

Australia: The number of asylum seekers believed killed when their boat smashed into rocky cliffs along Christmas Island has risen to 48. Thirty bodies have been recovered.

Belarus: Thousands of demonstrators massed outside the main government office to protest over alleged vote fraud in Sunday's presidential election in the biggest challenge to authoritarian Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko in 16 years in power.