World

In a surprise visit to Afghan-istan, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said he wasn't ready to declare an end to the fighting between tribal forces and Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda followers in the Tora Bora region, although a tribal commander disagreed. An estimated 200 Al Qaeda fighters have been killed there in the last week, tribal sources said, with 25 others taken prisoner and the last enemy positions now under their control. But Rumsfeld, the most senior US official to visit the war-torn country since the fall of the Taliban regime, doubted that "it's almost over" in the Tora Bora region. In Washington, Secretary of State Powell told NBC's "Meet the Press" the US has no reason to believe that bin Laden is among the dead or captured, adding: "We don't know where he is." (Stories, pages 1, 7.)

Tensions rose another notch between India and Pakistan after last week's suicide attacks on Parliament in New Delhi. Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes said his government had "sufficient proof" that the raid, which killed 13 people and wounded 17 others, was a joint operation of two Pakistan-based Islamic militant groups, with the involvement of Pakistani intelligence. But in Islamabad, President Pervez Musharraf threatened retaliation with force if India took "precipitous action" in the matter. (Story, page 7.)

With Israeli forces carrying their attack even more forcefully against strategic Palestinian interests in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Yasser Arafat closed 13 more offices of the militant Islamic Jihad and Hamas movements (above), for a total of 26 so far. Arafat also was to make a live broadcast to Palestinians calling for restraint in the armed conflict. But the moves won no points with senior Israeli officials, who said they were no substitute for arresting the ringleaders behind attacks on Jews. Meanwhile, special US envoy Anthony Zinni, who failed to achieve a new cease-fire in the region, was ordered home, although he "will remain engaged in the region," the State Department said. (Story, page 1.)

For the second time in two days, the leader of Zimbabwe's political opposition was arrested for a minor offense as President Robert Mugabe warned that the election campaign between them next year would be "total war." Morgan Tsvangirai was charged with possession of an unlicensed radio in what his Movement for Democratic Change called an attempt to "dampen his spirits [and] get him thinking for his own safety." Meanwhile, Mugabe, in winning the unanimous nomination of his ruling ZANU-PF movement for reelection, urged his followers to "move like a military machine."

Banks that resist his controversial decrees on the economy may be nationalized and their top executives "imprisoned for breaking the law," Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez warned. In another blast at opponents of the 49 decrees aimed - among other things - at increasing state control over the vital oil industry and redistributing land to the poor, Chávez said "they will have to pass over my dead body" to prevent them from being implemented. He spoke after unhappy business leaders appealed to the Supreme Court late last week to overturn the decrees.

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