World

The virtually isolated Taliban regime in Afghanistan again refused to hand over Osama bin Laden to the US because "we cannot compromise on our religion of Islam and Afghan traditions." But it was under new internal pressure as well, as the opposition Northern Alliance launched a heavy assault in the northwestern province of Balkh and claimed to have captured a key town. Meanwhile, 400 teachers at Kabul University adopted a resolution appealing to the UN and other Islamic nations to persuade the US to stop mobilizing its forces for an attack on Afghanistan. (Related stories, pages 1, 3, 6.)

Bin Laden has been traced to a hiding place near Jalalabad, on the border with Pakistan, Britain's News of the World reported, citing undercover intelligence data. It said Prime Minister Tony Blair's government confirmed that intelligence agents have been "actively pursuing" the Saudi dissident, adding: "We know where he is."

Further protests against Pakistan's decision to support US intervention in Afghanistan will not be tolerated, authorities warned Islamic radicals, adding: "Anyone who tries to disrupt law and order will not be spared." Although anti-US demonstrations have been loud and numerous, analysts said President Pervez Musharraf now feels secure enough to take the offensive against opponents.

Saying, "Yasser Arafat did not pass the test of fighting terrorism," Israel's leadership refused to allow Foreign Minister Shimon Peres to hold his long-awaited meeting with the Palestinian Authority president to discuss a truce. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office said Palestinian attacks against Israelis were continuing and demanded that Arafat order the arrest of a Palestinian gunman who killed a woman settler in the West Bank last Thursday. Senior Palestinians called the cancellation "irresponsible." Above, a protester outside Sharon's office holds an anti-Peres/Arafat meeting sign. (Story, page 1.)

A new six-week period in which Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland can pursue ways to rebuild trust in each other began as British authorities once again suspended the province's power-sharing administration. But although the suspension lasted just 24 hours, prospects for successful talks were jolted immediately by the coalition's ex-chief minister. Protestant leader David Trimble said he'd move today for the expulsion of its two ministers from Sinn Fein, the Catholic party assumed to be the political wing of the Irish Republican Army. If that motion is defeated, Trimble said he'd pull his four Ulster Unionist Party ministers out of the coalition.

A highly disciplined alliance of former communists appeared likely to win a convincing victory in elections for parliament Sunday in Poland. Political observers said the ruling Solidarity-led coalition government, which has been unable to hold down unemployment or end infighting and corruption scandals, might not even win a single seat.

Hundreds of volunteers offered temporary housing to residents of Tolouse, France, whose residences were destroyed in Friday's fertilizer plant explosion. The blast, which authorities say was likely an accident, killed at least 29 people. More than 650 others were hospitalized, many in critical condition. The plant was on a European Union list of high-risk workplaces.

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