Around the world

UNPEACEFUL: A sniper killed a soldier Thursday and two bombs targeting security forces exploded in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in three suspected IRA attacks in 12 hours. The attacks coincided with the IRA's New Year message that stressed peace but failed to mention a cease-fire. The message indicated that the outlawed paramilitary group has not made up its mind about a new British-Irish peace initiative.

CHARGED: After six months in custody, four radical-right youths have been charged with murder in Bonn, Germany, in the deadliest attack on foreigners since neo-Nazi violence surged three years ago. Five Turks died in the May 29 firebombing of a home in Solingen: four girls between ages 4 and 18 and a 27-year-old woman who jumped to her death while trying to escape the flames.

Across the nation

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`DEATH CLOCK': A 31/2-story "death clock" has been erected near New York's Times Square to record the nation's gun killings at the rate of one every 14 minutes. Financier Robert E. Brennan, whose brother was shot to death in 1969, pledged $1 million for the digital display, put up Wednesday. He said he hopes it will draw attention to "the ugly story of gun deaths in this country." The number of deaths will be updated continually with data from federal agencies.

3 ARRESTED: Three people were arrested Thursday morning and two more were being sought on charges they killed a bystander during an argument Monday at a shopping mall, police said in Irving, Texas. Two of those in custody were juveniles and one, a 16-year-old, was believed to be the gunman who killed Kevin Bacon and wounded two others Monday, said police spokeswoman Sydney Gomez. Bacon, a 37-year-old electrician, was shot in the head while eating in the mall's food court with his wife and daughters.

In Washington

WORKING FINE: The Hubble space telescope's ground handlers say it seems to be working just fine three weeks after undergoing repairs in orbit. The Hubble, fitted with new optical systems to correct the defects of its main mirror and new parts to fix broken guidance and power systems, is about midway through a long checkout since its release Dec. 10. Hubble scientist Ed Weiler said Wednesday that things are going so well the telescope will be ready to make its first pictures on the low end of the six-to-eight-week checkout period he had predicted.

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