World

For the second day in a row, militant Palestinians in the West Bank shot three suspected collaborators with Israel, hours after the car (above) of a leading radical was hit by a rocket. Marwan Zallun of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade died in the attack, an apparent return by Israel to targeted killings of wanted militants. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority ordered all of its local "ministries and official institutions" to end contacts with Israel – a move seen as countering possible attempts to circumvent Yasser Arafat's power base.

Sex abuse by Roman Catholic priests is "rightly considered a crime," Pope John Paul II told a gathering of American cardinals summoned to the Vatican. He expressed "my profound sense of solidarity and concern" to the objects of such abuse "and their families, wherever they may be." But he did not comment on a reported move by fellow archbishops to force the resignation of Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law, who is accused of mishandling such cases.

Police waded into a crowd of protesters for a more democratic Constitution in Zimbabwe's capital, beating and chasing them in trucks as a nationwide rally got off to an uncertain start. In Bulawayo, the No. 2 city, what was to be a simultaneous demonstration did not take place. Meanwhile, a published report said militants from President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF movement forced two daughters to watch as they beheaded their mother, an opposition supporter, Sunday.

Aides to the top two finishers in Sunday's French presidential voting were seeking a compromise format for their broadcast debate prior to the scheduled May 5 runoff that would not be "just a juxtaposition of monologues." But the campaign of incumbent Jacques Chirac hoped for "a way to guarantee dignity" in the faceoff against ultrarightist Jean-Marie Le Pen, who is known for his confrontational style. Meanwhile, an early opinion poll gave Chirac a 75 percent to 13 percent lead.

A majority of legislators now supports "reforming" the 49 unpopular laws on Venezuela's economy decreed last year by President Hugo Chávez, the National Assembly's No. 2 leader announced. The laws, affecting the oil industry, farming, and other sectors, led to a series of strikes and street protests that resulted in Chávez's brief ouster earlier this month. Since being returned to office by loyalist military chiefs, he has sought a dialogue with business leaders to try to find common ground on economic policy.

Transport services, businesses, and schools were idle, and tourists were left stranded as a five-day general strike organized by communist guerrillas began in Nepal. To ensure compliance, the rebels engaged in surprise attacks aimed at intimidation, among them a bomb explosion near the heavily guarded residence of Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba.

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