World

Another chapter of the US hunt for Al Qaeda members in Afghanistan closed with an armed raid on a hospital ward in Kandahar where six of them had barricaded themselves for almost two months. All were killed in an assault backed by American Special Forces troops but carried out by Afghan raiders. The wounded Al Qaeda members had refused to negotiate their surrender, vowing to blow up the hospital if anyone other than doctors entered their ward. Above, a Special Forces sharpshooter provides cover for the raiders from outside.

"More than 100" of the captured Al Qaeda members being held at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention camp are Saudi nationals, their government maintained - its first specific statement on the matter. It requested that they "be handed over to us" for interrogation. There was no immediate US response.

Police checkpoints and sets of physical barriers would control access to Jerusalem under a new security plan proposed by aides to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in the wake of the latest suicide bomb attack, reports said. The city already was being patrolled heavily by police after Sunday's incident, believed to be the first of its type carried out by a woman. Meanwhile, Israeli forces in a Tel Aviv suburb killed a Palestinian in a stolen car who had run down a policeman and a soldier after first smashing through a roadblock at the West Bank-Israel border. (Related story, page 6.)

A suicide threat by 11 children at a detention center for asylum-seekers in Australia was increasing the criticism of Prime Minister John Howard's tough immigration policies. But the threat, on top of a hunger strike by others in the detention camps, met only defiance, with Howard saying "the consequence would be to send a signal to the rest of the world that it was easy to come to Australia." An ex-chief justice of the High Court agreed, calling the criticism "hysterical."

Opposition leaders blasted a government plan to make service in Zimbabwe's youth militia compulsory, calling it an effort by President Robert Mugabe to establish a private army. Rival parties blame the militia members, who so far serve voluntarily, for disrupting their campaign rallies as the nation nears March's presidential election. The plan became public as European Union diplomats were considering imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe unless Mugabe permits a free and fair election.

In "an accident with no political undertone," a massive fire and resulting explosions rocked an Army weapons depot in Lagos, Nigeria. Casualty reports from the early-Sunday disaster still were emerging, but at least 500 people appeared to have died, many of them residents of an adjoining neighborhood. Property damage also was said to be heavy. The facility had played a central role in more than one military coup since Nigeria achieved independence in 1960.

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