World

Four Army posts in Northern Ireland were being dismantled, and the province's coalition government resumed business in reaction to the start of disarmament by the Irish Republican Army. Three Protestant ministers of the Ulster Unionist Party - among them its leader, David Trimble - returned to their posts, and two others from the hard-line Democratic Unionist Party were expected to follow. Above, a British soldier cuts into an observation tower that was to be "gone within 10 days."

Apparently for the first time, US warplanes were dropping cluster bombs on Taliban front lines in Afghanistan. But the offensive, while intense, again came under criticism from the opposition Northern Alliance for not being strong enough to dislodge Taliban forces from their positions. In another reported first, US jets bombed an area bordering Pakistan where tunnels can hide Taliban troops. (Related stories, pages 1, 2.)

Radical Palestinians were vowing to avenge the Israeli Army's incursion into a West Bank village in search of gunmen who assassinated Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi. But the Army withdrew from Beit Rima, describing its mission as a success, and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called his security cabinet together to discuss a further pullback from West Bank areas occupied since Zeevi was killed Oct. 17. (Related story, page 1.)

Investigators recovered the first remains of Russian sailors aboard the nuclear submarine Kursk since it was raised from the Barents Sea floor and brought to port. After draining the 20,000-ton vessel of water, they also determined that it was not leaking radiation. A crew of 118 was aboard the Kursk when it sank Aug. 12, 2000, after an unexplained explosion.

Traffic was in "utter chaos" along the Swiss-Italian border after the second serious highway accident in two days. One person died in a collision involving a truck, a car, and a minivan as they exited the St. Bernhard tunnel near Airolo, Switzerland, closing the connector for hours. Meanwhile, 80 people remained unaccounted for after Wednesday's collision inside the 10-mile-long Gotthard tunnel through the Alps. That accident killed at least 10 people and caused a fire that crews still were battling.

A fire erupting from an overturned truck roared through an Army weapons depot in Thailand, causing day-long explosions that rained shell casings, shrapnel, and bullets on the surrounding area. Reports said at least a dozen people died, 60 others were hurt, and a town three miles from the scene was ordered evacuated.

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