World

A man believed to be a senior Al Qaeda finance official was being questioned by US forces in southern Afghanistan after reports said he turned up unexpectedly at Kandahar airport, where hundreds of suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters are being detained. If his claims to inside knowledge of the organization prove true, it's believed he could help the US trace the operations of Osama bin Laden's terrorist network. (Related stories, pages 1, 2, 7.)

Secretary of State Powell was to make a brief stop in Kabul, Afghanistan, before traveling to India. Powell is seeking to build on a recent easing of tensions with Pakistan in a month-old military standoff that began with an attack on India's Parliament. "We have to find a way to work through this crisis," he told state TV in Pakistan, the first stop on his Asian tour, calling for dialogue on the disputed Kashmir region. Powell wraps up his trip next week in Tokyo at an aid conference for Afghanistan.

Hundreds of angry Palestinians marched on Yasser Arafat's West Bank headquarters to protest the arrest of militant leader Ahmed Saadat. Israel had demanded action against Saadat, whose Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine assassinated Israel's tourism minister last fall. But skeptical officials said the Palestinian Authority had lied about detaining militants in the past. The move coincided with the killings of two Israelis and a Palestinian driving a car with Israeli license plates in the past 48 hours.

Mobs of young men marched in Nigeria's commercial center, Lagos, to protest a new hike in fuel prices. Shops and gas stations were closed there and in other large cities in a general strike called by labor unions despite a government ban. Police arrested union leader Adams Oshiomole after a rally in the capital, Abuja.

The cheers of fellow lawmakers welcomed the return to Iran's parliament of Hossein Loqmanian (above), who spent 21 days in jail for criticizing the judiciary. Parliament is dominated by pro-democracy supporters of President Mohammed Khatami, who's engaged in a long-running power struggle with hardliners in the judiciary.

A notorious Protestant paramilitary group was to disband as of midnight Wednesday in Northern Ireland. The Red Hand Defenders claimed responsibility for killing a Catholic mailman last weekend. One Catholic lawmaker called the move "smoke and mirrors," saying Red Hand is a cover name used by the Ulster Defense Association, Northern Ireland's largest illegal paramilitary group, among others.

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