World

"Arab terrorists with links to Al Qaeda" were among the Chechen rebels whose seizure of a Moscow theater ended violently early Saturday, a senior diplomat there claimed. According to London's Sunday Telegraph newspaper, Russian investigators were looking into that possibility and reports that the hostage-takers had made numerous telephone calls to the United Arab Emirates during the three-day ordeal. Using a powerful but unidentified gas, flash grenades, and gunfire, special forces stormed the theater, killing all but three of the hostage-takers. At least 118 theatergoers also died.

The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade claimed responsibility for the second Palestinian terrorist bombing in less than a week. The attack, at a gas station in a West Bank settlement, killed at least three people and injured 17 others. It came as Yasser Arafat prepared to announce his new cabinet choices to the Palestinian Legislative Council Monday. His previous picks resigned en masse in June rather than be rejected by the council in a mandatory vote of confidence. Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon demanded that his Labor Party coalition partners support his proposed 2003 budget or quit the government. A breakup of his government would necessitate a new national election within 90 days.

From his hospital bed, the leader of Indonesia's Muslim extremist Jemaah Islamiyah group said he was "almost recovered" from illness and would agree to be questioned in the aftermath of the Oct. 12 terrorist bombings on Bali. But Abu Bakar Bashir accused the US, Australia, and Israel of demanding that he be jailed and said he'd "refuse – with whatever powers I have" to submit to detention. Since the bombings, which killed more than 180 people, Jemaah Islamiyah has been placed on the UN's list of terrorist organizations.

At least 22 people died and 16 others were wounded in a predawn raid by a banned tribal militant group on a village in northeastern India. Police said the raiders lined up and shot residents in an ongoing "ethnic cleansing" campaign. The attackers were identified as belonging to the National Democratic Front of Bodoland, which operates from neighboring Bhutan and seeks an independent homeland.

Cleanup efforts were under way in Puerto Vallarta and other resort towns along Mexico's Pacific coast after hurricane Kenna lashed the area Friday with winds of 160 m.p.h. It was blamed for one death and dozens of injuries, and reports said 80 percent of the buildings in San Blás alone appeared to be heavily damaged, if not destroyed.

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