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To try to soften Al Qaeda defenses for a major ground assault by Afghan tribesmen, US warplanes were pounding caves in the country's Tora Bora region. One tribal commander said Osama bin Laden personally was directing the defense of the area, although the report could not be confirmed independently. Meanwhile, in Kandahar, new interim Afghan leader Hamid Karzai said the standoff between rival anti-Taliban factions had been resolved peacefully. Details were not yet available as the Monitor went to press. (Related stories, pages 1, 8, 12.)

"We will apparently have to increase our activity," Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said after yet another Palestinian suicide bombing inside Israel injured 22 people at a bus stop. The attacker, seriously hurt in the explosion, was shot to death by police. But Sharon again denied his government was targeting Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat. Below, an Israeli soldier points his rifle at a Palestinian at a checkpoint in the West Bank. (Related story, page 1.)

The so-called "Mother of All Indictments" is to be read to ex-Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic tomorrow at the UN war-crimes tribunal in The Hague. The charge: 29 counts of genocide and crimes against humanity by Serbs in the 1992-95 civil war in Bosnia. Milosevic will be asked to plead to them, but he already has rejected the tribunal's authority to charge him with similar offenses related to Bosnia and Kosovo.

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In an about-face, the president of Sri Lanka administered the oath of office to new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, whose United National Party won control of Parliament in last week's election. But tension remained strong between Wickremesinghe and Chandrika Kumaratunga, who had said she would not be able to work with him. In fact, she blocked the inauguration from being carried live on television and, in a statement released by aides, angrily denied she would yield to him her own key cabinet posts: finance and defense minister.

A confrontation in the streets of Venezuela's capital appears likely today with supporters of President Hugo Chávez expected to demonstrate against a general strike called by both the business community and organized labor. Analysts say the impending showdown would be the biggest test yet for Chávez's administration. The president met with business leaders - but not strike organizers - late last week in an unsuccessful bid to defuse the shutdown. The organizers want him to repeal 49 unpopular laws covering sectors of the flagging economy that he decreed without consulting them or Congress.

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