Russia test-fires missile, warheads

MOSCOW - Russia's military yesterday successfully test-fired a new intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads - a weapon intended to replace aging Soviet-era missiles.

The RS-24 missile was launched from the Plesetsk launch facility in northern Russia, and its test warheads hit designated targets on the Kura testing range on the Kamchatka Peninsula some 4,340 miles east, said Strategic Missile Forces spokesman Alexander Vovk.

Vovk said the missile carried multiple test warheads, but he would not say how many. The Interfax news agency said the RS-24 could carry at least three warheads. The Strategic Missile Forces said a mobile launcher was used.

- AP

Mauritania calls 4 deaths terror

NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania - Mauritanian prosecutors yesterday called Monday's slaying of four French tourists a terrorist act and said security forces were hunting three men suspected of links to Algeria-based al-Qaeda in Islamic North Africa.

Gunmen opened fire on the tourists, members of the same family, while they were picnicking near Aleg, a small town 150 miles east of the capital, Nouakchott, police said. Authorities initially thought the tourists had been robbed, but subsequent investigations showed they were not, the Interior Ministry said.

The sole survivor, the family's father, was seriously injured and flown to Senegal, where he was reported hospitalized in intensive care. Police believe the three attackers fled toward Senegal and may have crossed the border into that country.

- AP

Kabul asks 2 envoys to leave

KABUL, Afghanistan - Two foreign diplomats who went to one of Afghanistan's most volatile regions have been asked to leave the country, officials said yesterday.

Aleem Siddique, a spokesman for the U.N. mission, said a U.N. employee traveled Monday to the southern province of Helmand along with a member of the European Union. Siddique said the Afghan government asked the U.N. employee to leave, saying he was "detrimental" to national security. Other officials said the government asked both a U.N. employee and a European Union employee to leave Afghanistan.

Siddique denied that the officials were talking to Taliban militants. President Hamid Karzai's spokesman, Humayun Hamidzada, said the two were "involved in some activities that were not their jobs."

No EU officials could be reached for comment.

- AP

Elsewhere:

A judge in Nigeria

has ordered the arrest of three top officials of the U.S.-based drug company Pfizer Inc., saying they failed to honor an order to appear in court over a $2 billion lawsuit the company is facing for a 1996 drug trial conducted on Nigerian children during a meningitis epidemic, court papers showed.

Fidel Castro remains

on the mend, gaining weight, exercising twice a day, and continuing to help make the Cuban government's top decisions, his brother Raul, Cuba's acting president, said in a speech Monday.