World

A delegation of Islamic clerics from neighboring Pakistan canceled plans for their next meeting with Afghanistan's Taliban leaders - a sign, analysts said, that the latter's options to avoid a US assault were all but exhausted. The announcement came as Pakistan's government said it was studying evidence from the US that Osama bin Laden was behind the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. Taliban officials demanded to see the evidence also but said they were ready for negotiations with the US over the disposition of bin Laden. (Related stories, pages 1, 7.)

Until its demand for a brand-new election is met, Bangla-desh's ousted ruling party will boycott Parliament, the caretaker prime minister said. Sheikh Hasina also announced nine days of national protests by supporters of her Awami League, beginning tomorrow. Unofficial returns from Monday's voting give the rival National Party coalition 201 seats to 62 for the Awami League. Sheikh Hasina alleges that the election was rigged. Above, Awami League supporters show their anger at the outcome on a street in Dhaka, the capital.

The latest Middle East cease-fire was in ruins after Palestinian militants invaded a Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip, killing two residents and wounding seven others. The attackers were shot dead by Israeli soldiers. But the incident provoked a heavy response, with Army tanks shelling nearby Palestinian police stations, killing six people. The radical group Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack on Alei Sinai, which it said marked the start of a second year of intifada. (Story, page 6.)

Ignoring warnings of damage to the peace process, Macedonia's police commander said government forces would begin today to take back areas held by ethnic-Albanian insurgents. He said the operation was necessary because "displaced Macedonians" want to return to the homes they fled earlier this year at the height of the insurgency. But senior European Union officials argued it would only invite new violence because parliament has yet to ratify the reforms agreed to by government and Albanian negotiators in August.

The controversial goal of raising the sunken Russian nuclear submarine Kursk by this weekend appeared beyond reach as worsening weather kept the necessary cables from being attached. But the mission contractor, a Dutch company, denied it was already planning to delay the task until next year.

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