World

Israel canceled a meeting with Palestinians on security after another suicide bomb attack – the second in two days – killed three people and hurt more than 60 others in Jerusa-lem. A militia linked to Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement claimed responsibility. There was no immediate comment from the Palestinian Authority, which Wednesday condemned a similar attack on a commuter bus that killed nine people. The Jerusalem blast came amid optimism on both sides that a new cease-fire was about to be agreed to. In Washington, President Bush said he was "frankly disappointed" in Arafat's "performance" on halting terrorist attacks. It was not clear how the latest suicide bombing would affect preparations for a meeting early next week between Vice President Cheney and Arafat in Egypt. (Related opinion, page 11.)

Suspicion fell on the leftist Shining Path rebel movement for a bomb explosion outside the US Embassy in Peru that killed at least nine people and wounded dozens of others. The explosion was "obviously" timed for Bush's visit, justice officials said. He is due in Lima tomorrow for a meeting with regional heads of government. Above, a policeman guards the scene. (Related stories, pages 1, 2.)

In other incidents blamed on terrorists:

• Five more bombs were defused in Philippines cities late Wednesday, bringing to nine the number found this week.

• A local elected official from Spain's Socialist Party was murdered by gunmen suspected of belonging to the Basque separatist movement, ETA. If confirmed, the attack would be ETA's first since last Nov. 23.

• In a statement termed "credible" by police, the leftist Red Brigades claimed responsibility for Tuesday night's assassination of Italian government adviser Marco Biagi.

Christian leaders reacted with delight – and Muslims with anger – to a declaration by Nigeria's government that the application of sharia, the harsh Islamic legal code, is unconstitutional. The issue has led to months of sectarian violence in 12 states and more than 3,000 deaths. A sharia appeals court is due to rule Monday on whether a Muslim woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery will be carried out.

Breaking his silence on the problem of sexual abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests, Pope John Paul II called it "the most grievous form" of evil. In one paragraph of a 22-page annual letter, he said priests must overcome human weakness by committing themselves more fully to the search for holiness. The Vatican is preparing a report on "psychological profiling" to block men with potential sexual problems from the priesthood. (Related story, page 1.)

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