World

Hamas was making revenge for the killing of a master bombmaker its No. 1 priority. Mohaned al-Tahir and an assistant died Sunday when Israeli special forces machine-gunned and then destroyed his house in the West Bank city of Nablus. Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer called the operation "the most important of the past two months." He said al-Tahir was responsible for the murders of at least 117 Israelis – 19 of them in a bombing attack in Jerusalem June 18.

Osama bin Laden "cannot be in Pakistan, if he is alive," the nation's president told a news conference. Analysts noted the unusual timing of Pervez Musharraf's remarks; on Sunday the Interior Ministry appealed to the public for help in catching bin Laden and 17 associates. Meanwhile, a senior fundamentalist Muslim cleric warned Musharraf to halt the "American-backed" search for Al Qaeda fugitives or "there will be riots and civil disobedience."

In mostly solemn ceremonies featuring a visit by Chinese President Jiang Zemin, Hong Kong marked the fifth anniversary of its handover by Britain. Hundreds of protesters were kept out of sight as Jiang presided over the swearing-in of unpopular administrator Tung Chee-hwa for his second term as the territory's administrator. Since reverting to Chinese control, Hong Kong's vaunted economy has fallen on difficult times, with unemployment at 7.4 percent, while much of mainland China is booming.

The August 2000 explosion that killed all 118 men aboard the Russian nuclear submarine Kursk was due to volatile fuel used in one of its torpedoes, an official investigative commission concluded. The Interfax news agency quoted a source on the panel as saying an increase in pressure from the first blast set off "the entire stock of ammunition [and] caused the destruction of the vessel." The accident was the worst in peacetime in Russian military history.

A runoff election appeared likely for the presidency of Bolivia, the poorest country in South America. Based on exit polls – since no official results had been released by the national elections commission – ex-President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada and former army officer Manfred Reyes were in a near-tie in Sunday's first round of voting, each with about 22 percent of the ballots.

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