World

Seven members of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government quit in protest at what they called too many concessions to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. The move still leaves Sharon with a majority in parliament. But it came as snipers killed six Israelis and wounded six others on a highway near the Lebanese border. The incident appeared to be a reprisal for Israel's largest military operation in 20 years - raids in Ramallah and against refugee camps elsewhere in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that killed 28 Palestinians.

Vice President Cheney was expected to hear from Jordan's leaders that a US attempt to topple Iraqi President Saddam Hussein would lead to destabilization in the Middle East. Cheney was in Amman, the capital, on the first leg of a nine- nation tour of the region to explain US policy toward the Iraqi regime. Jordan's king already has said a US strike against Iraq would be "catastrophic." Hussein also sent a representative to Jordan to drum up opposition to Cheney's visit. But reports said major European states would support US force against Iraq if Hussein refuses to readmit UN weapons inspectors. (Story, page 1.)

Police gagged and wrestled accused kidnap plotter Ahmed Omar Saeed from a Pakistani courtroom after he warned that the US would "pay dearly" if he is extradited for the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. Saeed, who was at a pretrial hearing in Karachi, implied that his followers would hijack an airliner or carry out a comparable act to win his freedom. In 1999, he was released from prison in India in exchange for passengers aboard a hijacked plane. He's expected to be charged with murder in the Pearl case, although prosecuters were granted more time to gather evidence against him.

In a rapid-fire series of developments, ballot-counting began in Zimbabwe after the nation's High Court rejected an appeal to keep polls in the presidential election open for a fourth day. The chairman of an independent observer team said the election was neither free nor fair, and the International Crisis Group warned of an "exceedingly high" risk of violence if Zimbabweans perceived the voting was rigged. Meanwhile, the secretary-general of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change was charged with treason in an alleged plot to kill incumbent President Robert Mugabe. (Related story, page 6.)

An easy reelection victory appeared likely for Republic of Congo President Denis Sassou-Nguesso as ballot-counting passed the halfway point after Sunday's vote. His chief rival pulled out of the election with two days to go, complaining that it would be a "masquerade." But he did not rule out joining a government of national unity that Sassou-Nguesso has pledged to form.

More than 1,000 people were burned out of their dwellings in a poor neighborhood of Cambodia's capital, in the fourth fire of its type since last November. The blaze, blamed on a faulty electrical circuit, destroyed flimsy squatter housing built on top of apartment complexes in Phnom Penh. The squatters will be permitted to rebuild, officials said, because the city lacks sufficient funds to relocate them.

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