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UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan hailed the first inspections for banned weapons in Iraq since 1998 as off to a good start and said their results must be accepted if the Baghdad government cooperates fully with the searchers. Amid a media frenzy Wednesday, inspectors split into two groups to check a military compound and an industrial complex. But ex-chief inspector Richard Butler told CNN the true test of the new regime would come when the searchers arrived unannounced at more sensitive sites.

The accused chief plotter of the Oct. 12 nightclub bombings on the tourist island of Bali confessed to having ties to Al Qaeda, his lawyer and Indonesian security officials said. The attacks killed almost 200 people. In other terrorism-related developments:

• More than half of the 48 Yemenis arrested this month on suspicion of being Islamic militants will remain in custody as authorities probe their ties to Al Qaeda, a security official said. The government's crackdown on terrorism has intensified since authorities uncovered a plot to avenge the Nov. 4 death of a top lieutenant to Osama bin Laden and six others when their car was hit by a US missile.

• The curriculum of schools in Kuwait will be "modernized," a senior government official said. He said the change is because of "local indications" rather than pressure from the US - a possible reference to claims by Westernized Kuwaitis that textbooks and the fundamentalist orientation of teachers are partly responsible for turning some students into religious zealots.

Four students arrested for organizing antigovernment rallies in Iran's capital were freed Wed-nesday, less than a day after being seized by plainclothes police. But they were ordered to appear in court tomorrow to face charges of acting against national security. Their arrests raised concerns over new unrest on university campuses, but no protests were reported as the Monitor went to press.

The month-long cease-fire in Ivory Coast was broken by a rebel attack on government forces, reports said. There was no immediate word of casualties, but French troops monitoring the truce with dissident Army troops were being sent to investigate. The truce began Oct. 17, but peace talks quickly became deadlocked over the rebels' demand that President Laurent Gbagbo resign and his insistence that the dissidents surrender their weapons first.

The tent camps housing tens of thousands of refugees from the fighting in Chechnya will be closed Dec. 20, Russian officials said, and residents were warned that force would be used to send home anyone refusing to go. The camps in neighboring Ingushetia have been in place since Russia began a second campaign to crush the volatile province's bid for independence in 1999. The evacuation order came five weeks after Chechen separatists seized a Moscow theater, taking 800 people hostage.

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