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13 nuclear plants felt quake, 
but all were spared

WASHINGTON — The earthquake Tuesday in the Eastern United States was felt at 13 locations with nuclear power plants, from North Carolina to Michigan, but reactors shut down at only one, North Anna in Virginia, 10 miles from the epicenter. There was no damage to nuclear systems at any of the sites, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The commission has been re-evaluating the earthquake vulnerability of reactors in the East, based on a recent reassessment by the U.S. Geological Survey of the likelihood of a big earthquake in the region. The review is independent of the quake on Tuesday, whose epicenter was near Mineral, Va., and predates the Japanese earthquake of March 11. That quake and a resulting tsunami caused a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

An NRC task force investigating the implications of that accident recommended changes in how the commission regulates some emergency equipment that could be useful after an earthquake, another natural event or a terrorist attack — but no changes are imminent.

—Matthew L. Wald, The New York Times

In Syria, 9 demonstrators killed; artist beaten

BEIRUT — Security forces in Syria carried out military operations in several areas Thursday against pro-democracy protesters seeking to topple the government of President Bashar Assad, and activists and residents said nine people were killed.

Masked gunmen also severely beat the country’s best-known political cartoonist, Ali Farzat, leaving him to bleed along the side of a road, days after he published a cartoon showing Assad hitching a ride out of town with Moammar Gadhafi of Libya. Since the start of the Syrian uprising in March, Farzat, renowned through the Arab world, has published cartoons critical of Assad and his crackdown on protesters.

Activists and residents in Shuhail, a town southeast of the provincial capital, Deir al-Zour, a tribal area in eastern Syria, said tanks and armored vehicles had entered. Daily protests against the government have taken place in Shuhail, they said, since the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Security forces also attacked four towns in the province of Daraa in southern Syria, and Rastan and Talbiseh, two villages near Homs, Syria’s third-largest city, where there have been large demonstrations.

—Nada Bakri, The New York Times

Nine Palestinians killed as Gaza and Israel exchange fire

Warning sirens repeatedly sent Israelis across the south into bomb shelters, but most of the rockets landed in empty fields near the Israeli cities of Ofakim, Ashkelon and Beersheba. However, a 9-month-old baby was slightly hurt in Ashkelon when a car was hit with shrapnel.

The recent round of violence started a week ago, with a terrorist attack on southern Israel in which eight Israelis were killed. Israeli forces pursuing suspects killed three Egyptian security officers in the Egyptian Sinai, creating a furor with Egypt.

Israeli officials said the perpetrators and planners of the terrorist attack were originally from Gaza, and Israel has retaliated with strikes that have killed at least 23 Palestinians. Gazan officials say they know nothing about the source of the attack.

Israel’s first retaliatory strike in Gaza killed leaders of the Popular Resistance Committees, a pro-Hamas group that Israel said was behind the terrorist attack. On Wednesday, an airstrike killed an Islamic Jihad leader, Ismail al-Asmar, 34; the group said Thursday that it had fired several of the missiles at Israel in retaliation.

—Fares Akram, The New York Times