World

A smiling Yasser Arafat emerged from 34 days of confinement in his headquarters and began a tour of West Bank areas targeted by Israeli forces in their counterterrorism operation. But even Palestinian analysts said he now confronted a balancing act among the need to rebuild devastated neighborhoods, calls by militants for revenge against Israel, and demands by the US and others in the international community for an end to violence. (Story, page 1.)

Saying, "I listen to voters, not protesters," controversial presidential candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen dismissed the massive demonstrations against him across France Wednesday. But still more anti-Le Pen rallies were expected Thursday despite voter surveys indicating that he is headed for defeat by a 4-to-1 margin in Sunday's runoff election. (Story, page 1.)

Two powerful car bombs exploded outside a soccer stadium as fans were arriving for an important game and near the main railroad station in Madrid in a sign that the Basque separatist movement ETA has rebuilt its network there, investigators said. The blasts, which hurt 17 people, came two weeks after Spain's right-wing government drafted legislation that would outlaw ETA's political wing. Above, a fireman hoses down cars set ablaze by one of the bombs.

Dozens of foreign journalists were admitted to Myanmar (Burma) by the nation's military junta – a sign, analysts said, that democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi's release from house arrest was imminent. Suu Kyi was taken to a meeting with senior military officials, another development that pointed to her imminent release from 19 months of detention. Her freedom is a major demand of the international community, which has isolated Myanmar diplomatically and imposed economic sanctions to try to force political change.

A document that appears to be authentic orders police and the courts in parts of China to prepare for the 2008 Olympic Summer Games by targeting Falun Gong followers for arrest without warrant, heavy fines, and imprisonment. The directive, which US-based Chinese democracy activists said came from the highest levels of government, also applies to organizers of large gatherings or protests. The leak coincided with the visit to the US of Chinese Vice President Hu Jintao.

The leaders of two more provinces in Madagascar were preparing to declare independence in support of President Didier Ratsiraka – a move that would leave only the capital, Antananarivo, under the control of Ratsiraka's rival for the presidency, Marc Ravalomanana. Governors loyal to Ratsiraka already are attempting to starve the capital of vital supplies by barricading the seaports.

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