World

Iraq blasted as "baseless" and "scaremongering" a dossier released by British Prime Minister Tony Blair on the Baghdad regime's capacity to wage war with weapons of mass destruction. The eagerly awaited 55-page document maintains that Iraq could launch chemical and biological weapons within 45 minutes of an order to strike and is within two years of building a nuclear bomb if weapons-grade uranium can be obtained from abroad – or within five years if forced to operate on its own. The dossier cited evidence that Iraq has tried "covertly" to buy uranium in Africa. Iraq's Foreign Ministry offered to admit British weapons experts to verify its assertion. Antiwar campaigners in Britain called the dossier "a shockingly flimsy pretext for mass murder."

Workshops suspected of building weapons were destroyed and nine Palestinian defenders were killed in a major Israeli raid on Gaza City. The assault came as the UN Security Council approved another resolution condemning the Jewish state for its siege of Yasser Arafat's compound on the West Bank. The resolution won unanimous passage, although the US abstained. The measure also condemned terrorist attacks against Israel, but the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem called it unbalanced.

In a surprise attack on a worship service, unidentified gunmen killed at least 23 people, among them women and children, at a Hindu temple in India's already tense Gujarat state. Forty others were reported wounded, and more than 100 were trapped inside as the Monitor went to press. Army commandos were ordered to the scene. Senior government officials alleged that the incident was tied to state elections in disputed Kashmir, where Muslim militants are trying to intimidate residents into boycotting the polls. Earlier this year, violence between Hindus and Muslims in Gujarat resulted in hundreds of deaths.

American troops were ordered to Ivory Coast to rescue foreign nationals trapped between that nation's government forces and Army dissidents holding the No. 2 city, Bouake. But the mission was not "an evacuation," a Pentagon spokesman said. Sporadic fighting in the city brought claims – denied by the rebels – that loyalist units had retaken control of some neighborhoods.

Terrorist bombs that exploded at two locations in northern Spain killed three people – one of them a policeman – and seriously wounded three others. Both blasts were blamed on the Basque separatist movement ETA, although there were no claims of responsibility. The second happened when a security detail stopped to take down a separatist sign that had been booby-trapped.

Thousands more protesters rallied in the streets of Ukraine's capital for the resignation of widely unpopular President Leonid Kuchma – the second demonstration of its type in eight days. It followed a failed attempt by Kuchma opponents, among them members of parliament, to broadcast a statement over state TV. But 50 opposition legislators announced they were beginning a hunger strike until the embattled president would accept their written demand for his resignation.

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