JERUSALEM

Citing threat, Israel warns its citizens to leave Sinai

Israel issued an “urgent” warning Tuesday to its citizens to leave Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula immediately, citing “concrete evidence of an expected terrorist attempt to kidnap Israelis in Sinai.”

The statement from the Israeli prime minister’s anti-terror office took the unusual step of calling on families of Israelis visiting the Sinai to establish contact with them.

The commander of the anti-terror office, Brig. Gen. Nitzan Nuriel, acknowledged that there had been rumors that Israelis have been kidnapped in the Sinai.

“We don’t work according to rumors,” he Israel TV. “We work according to firm intelligence.” He said it would “take some time” to disprove the rumors, which circulated all day Tuesday.

“It is very possible that at this moment, there is a terror cell that has the intention and has a plan in operation to kidnap an Israeli and bring him to Gaza,” he said.

Palestinian militants in Gaza have been holding an Israeli soldier captive for more than three years.

MEXICO CITY

Report: More than 22,700 killed in drug war since 2007

More than 22,700 people have been killed in Mexico’s drug war since a U.S.-backed military crackdown on cartels began more than three years ago, according to a government report.

The report said 2009 was the deadliest year in the drug war, with 9,635 people killed in violence tied to organized crime. That compares to 2,837 in 2007, the first year of President Felipe Calderon’s military-led offensive.

Gang violence has continued surging this year, with 3,365 people killed between January and March, according to the confidential report sent to lawmakers Monday. The Associated Press had access to the report Tuesday.

BEIJING

Strong quakes hit province; no casualties yet reported

A series of strong earthquakes struck China’s western Qinghai province today, the U.S. Geological Survey said. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The USGS reported on its Web site that a magnitude-6.9 temblor struck an area in southern Qinghai, near Tibet, at 7:50 a.m. local time (8:50 p.m. EDT Tuesday), and was followed by two quakes in the same region.

The quake hit the county of Yushu, a Tibetan area in Qinghai, the official Xinhua News Agency cited the China Earthquake Networks Center as saying. The Chinese center measured the quake’s magnitude at 7.1.

LA PAZ, Bolivia

Company selling energy drink made from coca leaves

A company in Bolivia is selling an energy drink made from coca leaves called Coca Colla.

Coca Colla-maker Victor Ledezma says he is distributing about 12,000 bottles of it in La Paz, Santa Cruz and Cochabamba. The soft drink is black and comes in a bottle with a red label. A half-liter bottle costs about $1.50.

He said Tuesday the name was chosen by local farmers and comes from the coca leaf and the name of the highland Colla people, who have chewed the leaf for centuries.

Coca leaf is the main ingredient in cocaine, but it also has traditional and medicinal uses among Bolivia’s Indians. Coca — chewed as leaves or made into a tea — is used as a mild stimulant or for altitude sickness in the Andes.