World

The militant group Hamas claimed responsibility for an attack on an Army post in southern Israel that killed four soldiers. The deaths were the first since Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, under pressure from the US and other sources, decreed an end to armed attacks on Israelis Dec. 16. The two attackers also died in a shootout. The Palestinian Authority condemned the incident, saying it gave the Israeli government "a pretext to pursue aggression." (Story, page 6.) Above, a Hamas member sprays graffiti near the home of one of the attackers.

Several senior Taliban leaders were set free in southern Afghanistan after surrendering to authorities in Kandahar, a local commander said. He said the Taliban, among them the former defense and justice ministers, were granted amnesty after agreeing to recognize the new interim government. The US military has been frustrated recently when promised surrenders, including that of Taliban leader Mohammad Omar, fell through. But in a briefing, Marine Lt. James Jarvis said, "We're not in the business of determining who should and should not be in custody right now." (Related story, page 1.)

Meanwhile, the US has warned Somalia and several other countries not to provide havens for terrorists if they don't want to become targets of the counterterrorism campaign, Secretary of State Powell told The Washington Times. The paper said 100 members of a Somali Islamic group had been identified as belonging to Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network.

Currency markets were to resume operations in Argentina today for the first time since Dec. 21, the day after elected President Fernando de la Rua resigned following deadly food riots. The reopening, announced by the government of his second appointed successor, Eduardo Duhalde, is seen as a litmus test for efforts to end four years of recession. Those efforts include last weekend's move to devalue the peso by 29 percent, ending a decade-old peg to the US dollar.

A defiant Slobodan Milosevic appeared before war-crimes judges in The Hague for a procedural hearing. His trial, for the brutal Serb crackdown on ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, is set to begin Feb. 12. The former Yugoslav president, who has refused to cooperate, repeated his insistence that charges against him are politically motivated and accused NATO of atrocities in Kosovo.

A new fire was threatening properties north of Sydney, Australia, but reports said cooler temperatures, rain, and tons of water dumped from huge cargo helicopters were helping crews to quell all but a few of the roughly 100 blazes that have destroyed an area twice the size of Greater London. Meanwhile, the number of suspected arsonists arrested by police rose to 26, most of them juveniles.

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