An immediate cease-fire in Kandahar, the Taliban base in Afghanistan, was announced by tribal forces fighting for control of the city, with remnants of the hard-line Islamic regime agreeing to begin surrendering their weapons today. The move, senior Taliban official Abdul Salam Zaeef said, was being made "to decrease casualties and to protect the dignity of the people." Zaeef said Taliban chief Muhamad Omar "will be allowed to live with dignity." But that word drew an immediate rejection from the Bush administration, although White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said "the president has left ... undefined" what type of justice should be meted to Omar. (Stories, page 1.)
There were ominous signs that the power-sharing accord among the parties to the conference in Germany on Afghan-istan's future was unraveling. Gen. Rashid Dostum, who leads the Uzbek forces in the Northern Alliance and controls the strategic city of Mazaar-e Sharif and sizable amounts of other territory, said he'd boycott the new authority. He called it "humiliating" to Uzbeks, whose faction was awarded relatively minor portfolios instead of the foreign ministry he had demanded. An ethnic-Pashtun elder also complained that the accord was "not balanced" and that the interim government was composed of "almost the same" people as the minority-dominated administration overturned by the Taliban in 1996.
In related developments:
Neighboring Pakistan, the only nation still recognizing the Taliban regime after the US-led assault on Afghanistan began, announced it would "enter into immediate relations" with the interim power-sharing government agreed to earlier this week in Germany.
An international peacekeeping force will be sent to Afghanistan once "the mix [of participating nations] and the leadership" has been determined, Secretary of State Powell said, adding: "there will be no shortage of troops."
US forces may use air bases for a year in formerly Soviet Kyrgyzstan, the republic's parliament decided. The bases may be used for both military and humanitarian purposes in neighboring Afghanistan.
Pressure mounted against Yasser Arafat to contain terrorist elements in the Palestinian ranks, with Israel giving him 24 hours to arrest top militants or face new incursions that could topple his self-rule administration. Secretary Powell also said "more is required" from Arafat after the Palestinian Authority president's police clashed with hundreds of supporters of Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin (l.) outside the latter's Gaza City home. One Hamas member died in the protest over Arafat's decision to place Yassin under house arrest. (Story, page 7.)
A surprise win appeared likely for the main opposition party in Sri Lanka as vote-counting neared completion in last weekend's election for control of Parliament. Unofficial returns showed the United National Party with a 48 percent to 39 percent lead over President Chandrika Kumaratunga's People's Alliance. Authorities extended a curfew to try to head off violent demonstrations.