Threats build in N. Ireland

DUBLIN, Ireland - Five Northern Ireland politicians received letters containing bullets Wednesday as an extremist Protestant campaign of death threats and street protests escalated over Belfast City Council's decision to stop flying the British flag year-round.

Hours later, an off-duty police officer narrowly avoided being shot when confronted by a gunman outside his home in the mainly Protestant town of Bangor. No group claimed responsibility.

About 40 police have been injured during the past three weeks' street clashes with Protestant extremists, who have issued threats against both police and politicians. Typically, however, gun attacks on British security forces are committed by extremists from the Irish Catholic side of the community.

Several smaller Irish Republican Army splinter groups continue to mount attacks in defiance of the mainstream IRA's 2005 decision to abandon violence. Last month, an IRA faction fatally shot a prison guard, 52-year-old David Black, as he drove to work. - AP

Cayman Islands premier named

KINGSTON, Jamaica - The Britain-appointed governor of the Cayman Islands named Julianna O'Connor-Connolly as the Caribbean territory's new premier on Wednesday, a day after the former leader was removed by a parliamentary vote over his arrest on suspicion of misconduct.

Gov. Duncan Taylor said O'Connor-Connolly was supported by a majority of governing party lawmakers and he was satisfied she could form a "stable, functioning government."

She was deputy premier under Premier McKeeva Bush, who was removed from office Tuesday in a parliamentary vote a week after his arrest on suspicion of theft related to misuse of a government credit card and breach of trust, abuse of office and conflict of interest. He has not been charged and insists he has done nothing wrong. - AP

Yemen's leader ousts top brass

SANA'A, Yemen - Yemen's president on Wednesday ordered a shake-up of the country's Defense Ministry, removing the powerful son, relatives and aides of the ousted leader, in a harsh blow to the ex-president's remaining ties to power.

According to Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi's orders, the elite Republican Guard and Special Forces, which were commanded by ousted leader Ali Abdullah Saleh's son, Ahmed, merged under the ministry, effectively reducing Ahmed Saleh's power base. However, it was not clear whether Saleh's son will remain in the Defense Ministry or in what capacity.

Hadi also named a new commander to replace Saleh's nephew, Yahia, as head of the Central Security Forces and merged another unit headed by Yahia, the Anti-Terrorism Force, to the Defense Ministry. - AP