World

"A major operation," involving the use of oxygen-depleting thermobaric bombs, was in its third day in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan (below), where an estimated 5,000 Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters had regrouped and were resisting a US-led ground assault. At least one American and three Afghan soldiers were killed. It did not appear that the holdouts were trying to protect either Osama bin Laden or deposed Taliban leader Muhamad Omar. (Related story, page 1.)

One of the heaviest weekends of violence in the Middle East in months killed 21 Israelis, among them an entire family leaving religious services in Jerusalem as a Palestinian suicide bomber struck Saturday. That attack and the shooting deaths of 10 people by a Palestinian sniper Sunday followed Israeli raids on two West Bank refugee camps in a search for terrorists and their weapons. (Story, page 6.)

Most of the sectarian violence in India's Gujarat state appeared to be under military control, with no new major incidents reported as the Monitor went to press. But tensions remained high between Hindus and Muslims, and Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee called the clashes "a disgrace to the nation." The number of casualties in the worst such bloodshed in a decade was put at 489 dead by police. (Story, page 7; editorial, page 10.)

Army troops were reported approaching the barricades erected by opposition supporters in Madagascar's capital on the third day of martial law as the Monitor went to press. A spokesman for the general in charge of enforcing the decree said negotiations for the removal of the roadblocks were under way and that there was "no reason for the situation to degenerate."

The 21 men who rammed a bus through a gate of Mexico's embassy in Havana late last week were back in Cuban police custody. But their whereabouts were unknown, and it was not clear what would happen to them. An embassy official denied that the men had sought asylum, claiming their actions were motivated by economic hardship because they are unemployed. They were expelled at the embassy's request Friday.

Based on early nationwide returns, voters in Switzerland appeared to give their consent to full membership in the UN. The "yes" vote was leading by a 55 percent to 45 percent margin. But in the two-pronged referendum Sunday it was less clear whether the issue would win the necessary OK of at least half the country's 23 cantons. At best, that margin was projected to be 12 to 11.

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