World

In an apparent change in tactics, US forces attacking Taliban positions in Afghanistan were reported to be firing missiles from low-flying helicopters. Among their targets: a Kabul hotel used by Taliban soldiers. But Taliban spokesmen said the US was failing in both its military and political objectives, that a Northern Alliance assault on Mazar-e Sharif had been "repulsed," and that their regime was prepared for decades of war because "our fighters are untouched." Meanwhile, in India, the last stop on a tour of key US allies in the region, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said greater numbers of Americans now were on the ground in Afghanistan, directing air-strikes. He rejected suggestions that "Afghanistan will take years." (Stories, pages 1, 7.)

Israeli Army units withdrew from the positions they had occupied in the West Bank town of Qalqilya for more than two weeks. But they were continuing to occupy four other Palestinian-controlled communities, buoyed by a new opinion poll that showed overwhelming public support among Jews for their actions. Meanwhile, Palestinians were expressing outrage at the comments of a senior State Department official who called their 13-month intifada "a process of calculated terror."

Hard-line Protestants in Northern Ireland challenged a political deal that seemed certain to restore David Trimble to the post of first minister in the province's power-sharing administration. But the same people from the Democratic Unionist Party who blocked Trimble's reelection last Friday lost a court ruling in Belfast, and the crucial vote on Trimble appeared likely to be held today. He quit July 1 in a bid to force the Irish Republican Army to begin surrendering its weapons. He stands to resume the job thanks to a pledge of support over the weekend by the Alliance Party, a mix of Catholic and Protestant moderates.

Victory celebrations already were under way in Nicaragua among supporters of ruling party candidate Enrique Bolaños based on early returns from Sunday's presidential election. Bolaños (above) was reported to have 53 percent of the vote, to 45 percent for leftist Sandinista National Liberation Front rival and former President Daniel Ortega. Bolaños, a former vice president who had most of his businesses confiscated during the Sandinista era, was refraining from comment as the Monitor went to press.

With communications knocked out, details were sketchy on the impact of hurricane Michelle on Cuba. The 130-m.p.h. storm was the most powerful to strike the island in 57 years, but most of the rain associated with it had stopped Monday. One death was reported in Cuba, in addition to the 12 blamed on the storm elsewhere in the Caribbean. Michelle's winds were weakening to about 80 m.p.h. as it churned toward the Bahamas. The late-season storm appeared likely to spare the Florida keys, where the "all clear" for residents who were ordered to evacuate was expected.

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