A wrap-up of other world news

U.S. attack helicopters and about one thousand troops have launched a major new operation in southern Afghanistan to flush out al-Qaida and Taleban remnants. U.S. military officials say the operation, code-named "Valiant Strike," began early Thursday morning with an air and ground assault in the remote, mountainous area of the southern Kandahar province.

Investigators now say it is likely mainland China was the source of a mysterious respiratory illness that has spread to a dozen countries on four continents. Hong Kong officials say the deadly outbreak originated in February when a visiting doctor from mainland China apparently passed the virus to other guests at a Hong Kong hotel.

Ivory Coast rebels have boycotted a meeting of the country's new power-sharing government for the second time. The unity government is the centerpiece of a French-brokered peace agreement signed in late January to end six months of civil war.

Striking oil workers in Venezuela have demonstrated against the U.S. purchase of Venezuelan oil. The oil workers went on strike last December against the radical changes instituted by leftist President Hugo Chavez.

Colombian authorities say that at least 13 people were killed in mudslides in two western towns. At least 25 others are missing. Officials say heavy rains began late Tuesday, causing torrents of earth to rush over makeshift homes.