World

Another Palestinian suicide bomber - believed to be a female college student - struck in downtown Jerusalem, killing herself and another person and injuring at least a dozen others. The incident was the third by militants in Israeli cities in less than a week. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, although Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office promptly blamed Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat "since he encourages terrorists to commit suicide acts." His aides condemned the attack and called on the Bush administration to send special envoy Anthony Zinni back to the region. (Story, page 6.)

Relations between the US and the Palestinian leadership, however, were at a new low. Despite Arafat's demand that the administration "stop judging the situation in the territories based on their relationship with the Israelis," President Bush was scathing in his latest comments on the Palestinian Authority chief. He said he was "very disappointed" in Arafat, whom he has accused of "enhancing terror." Reports said the administration was considering a cutoff of relations with Arafat.

The exiled former king of Afghanistan, Mohamad Zahir Shah, will return home by March 21, aides said. He has not been on Afghan soil since being ousted in 1973. Zahir Shah's role will be to convene a traditional grand national assembly, or loya jirga, before interim Prime Minister Hamid Karzai's term expires in June. The assembly must choose a transitional government that will function for 18 more months, or until elections can be held. (Related stories, pages 1, 7.)

An apparent hit by a surface-to-air missile brought down a Russian helicopter over Chechnya, killing 11 people, two of them senior Army generals. The loss was one of the Army's most serious in almost 2-1/2 years of war in the rebellious territory and was seen as a major embarrassment to President Vladimir Putin, who has declared the Chechen campaign already won. The incident appeared timed for the fifth anniversary of Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov's election. Maskhadov has vowed to remain as president, although his term expired Sunday.

Pleading for calm and patience, embattled Argentina President Eduardo Duhalde told a radio audience, "We can't solve all of the country's problems in three weeks." The interim leader pledged he would introduce a new economic program to put Argentina "back on track" after the largest public protest against the freeze on withdrawing bank deposits since he took office. At least 21 people were arrested and 38 others were hurt, some of them seriously, as police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.

More hunger-strikers joined those already refusing to take food or water in Australia's camps for immigrants seeking asylum. An attorney for the mainly Afghan and Middle Eastern detainees at Melbourne, Port Hedland, and Woomera put the number at 370, although government officials insisted it was only 181. At least one suicide attempt was reported, and refugee activists across the nation were rallying for a greater show of compassion by the government, whose immigration minister was quoted as saying, "There's no way we can succumb to duress."

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