World

In violence that has become all but continuous, Palestinian militants killed five more Israelis via a suicide bombing aboard a bus, an ambush of motorists in the West Bank, a shooting rampage in a Tel Aviv nightclub, and other attacks. A senior Hamas leader said the attacks would continue "until the full liberation of Palestine" and the chief of Yasser Arafat's Fatah group called for sniper attacks on all Israeli checkpoints. Above, Palestinians in a Jerusalem suburb argue with an Israeli policeman. (Story, page 1.)

Hindus and Muslims marched together through the streets of Ahmadabad, India, in a joint call for sectarian peace as an uneasy calm settled over the violence-torn city. And, in another sign of relaxing tensions, hard-line Hindu leaders backed away from Monday's insistence that they'd start construction of a temple later this month on land considered sacred by Muslims in the northern city of Ayodhya. They agreed to accept a Supreme Court ruling on whether the structure can be built.

Soldiers and police were ordered to cast their votes for incumbent Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe's presidential election - on absentee ballots completed in the presence of superiors, a published report said. The account, in the independent Daily News, was angrily denied by Mugabe aides, who said the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is "trying to prepare the world for [its] defeat" in this weekend's election. MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai is mounting the stiffest challenge to Mugabe in the latter's 22 years in power. The Daily News has been openly sympathetic to the MDC.

For the 13th straight year, spending on China's armed forces will grow by double digits, the annual meeting of the National People's Congress, or parliament, is expected to hear today. The government's proposed budget, to be outlined by Finance Minister Xiang Huai-cheng, calls for a 17.6 percent hike - mostly for high-tech warfare systems and pay raises for military personnel, reports said. Analysts say the true figure usually runs five times higher than is publicly reported.

The outcome of today's national referendum on tightening Europe's most restrictive laws on abortion appears too close to call, reports from the Republic of Ireland said. The measure is the fifth of its type in 20 years and, if it passes, would make the termination of pregnancies "forever illegal" in staunchly Catholic Ireland, the government of Prime Minister Bertie Ahearn has said. Opponents, led by family-planning groups and liberal political parties, argue that passage would continue to force 7,000 Irish women a year to travel to Britain for abortions.

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