World

Hamas claimed responsibility for another bus bombing in Jerusalem, the worst in six years. The blast shortly before 8 a.m. Tuesday killed at least 20 people and injured 55 others. It was the 20th such attack this year. Although the Palestinian Authority condemned it and vowed to do everything possible to "find and stop anyone" attempting similar missions, Israeli news media reported that an unspecified form of retaliation would be forthcoming.

President-elect Hamid Karzai asked for more time to divulge his choices for cabinet members because "it's an issue that involves the rights of Afghan ethnic groups." He conceded to the loya jirga (grand council) that the selection process was proving more difficult than expected, despite consultations with former king Mohamad Zahir and other political leaders. Analysts said Karzai knows he must reduce the influence of the Northern Alliance, which held three of the most important ministries in Afghanistan's interim government. Rules agreed to by all parties to the peace process require the loya jirga to be informed of the cabinet choices.

Four new hostages were seized by suspected Abu Sayyaf rebels in the southern Philippines, reports said. All are Indonesian seamen. The development was seen as a setback in the effort to crush the Muslim extremists, who lost their last four hostages in a battle with government troops two weeks ago. It came a day after the first reported combat between US Marines and the rebels, a gunfight that resulted in no casualties. Above, marines ride a patrol vehicle after the clash.

A national referendum on whether he should continue in office may be held next summer, controversial Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez said. In a TV address, he said he had made a five-month "error" in calculating the start of his term and that, by law, such a vote could be scheduled any time after Aug. 19, 2003. Venezuela has been wracked in recent weeks by anti-Chávez protests and rumors of another military coup. His opponents are sponsoring a petition drive to cut his term from six years to four.

A split in the ranks of the ruling Congress Party in Nepal appeared in danger of deepening after its convention overturned the expulsion of Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba. Deuba was ousted in May by the party's president as punishment for calling a new national election at a time when the government is at war with communist rebels. Deuba's supporters said they'd try to replace the president. Whether the latter would try to form a new party if that happened was unclear.

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