World

Iran has turned over 16 suspected Al Qaeda fighters to Saudi Arabia, both nations' foreign ministries said, confirming a report in The Washington Post. The fighters, Saudi nationals who fled from neighboring Afghanistan, were handed over in June with the understanding that they would be interrogated, and that any intelligence would be shared with the US, The Post reported, quoting Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal.

After two deadly attacks in a week, Pakistan stepped up security around sites used by Christians and other religious minorities. Five people, including one assailant, were killed and more than 20 others were injured Friday in a grenade attack on a Presbyterian missionary hospital. An earlier raid on a Protestant school left six dead. A spokesman for President Pervez Musharraf said the attacks on "soft" targets were evidence of "frustration and panic" among Islamic militants after a government crackdown.

Indonesians will vote directly for their head of state in 2004, under constitutional changes approved Saturday by the People's Consultative Assembly. The nation's top legislative body also took away the 38 unelected seats traditionally reserved for the military, while rejecting a proposal to adopt sharia (Islamic law). Critics said the changes were merely cosmetic, however, and that the military would continue to wield strong influence.

A powerful explosion reportedly killed 26 people, knocked out electricity, and damaged a hydroelectric dam in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad. Provincial officials said stored explosives used for road construction were responsible for Saturday's blast, contradicting previous statements by US officials that a truck bomb was to blame.

Taiwan "will not be intimidated" by China's military threats and "must not abandon beliefs that are right," President Chen Shui-bian said at a rally for a proindependence party. He drew sharp warnings from Beijing last week when he appeared to back a referendum on independence. His comments Sunday appeared carefully phrased to avoid repeating that assertion.

Rioters in a mainly Catholic neighborhood of east Belfast injured 13 police officers Saturday night. The unrest followed a day of contentious parades by Protestant groups in Northern Ireland, to mark historic military victories over Catholics.

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