World

A US-led attack on Iraq would be "absolute stupidity," Saddam Hussein told his Cabinet as world attention shifted to the UN for chief weapons inspector Hans Blix's latest report to the Security Council. Blis is expected to say that the Iraqi regime has showed increased cooperation with the inspections and is "incredibly keen to persuade us that they've gotten rid of all" anthrax and VX nerve gas, "but that is difficult for them." He is not expected to press more time for inspections.

With tensions rising still further on the Korean peninsula, the US was asked not to reduce its troop strength below the Demilitarized Zone. South Korean Prime Minister Goh Kun made the request as the first group of B-1 and B-52 bombers arrived in Guam, putting them within striking distance of North Korea.

Israel's Army and Palestinians gave conflicting versions of a raid on a Gaza Strip refugee camp that killed 11 people and wounded more than 100 others. The raid, apparently in retaliation for Wednesday's terrorist bombing of a commuter bus that killed 15 Israelis, was a search for a Hamas militant, the Army said, adding that it uncovered a cache of weapons. Palestinians said an Israeli tank fired into a crowd gathered outside a burning building.

Chaos was being predicted in Argentina after the Supreme Court struck down a government decree that converted bank accounts last year from dollars to the devalued peso. The decree affected about $60 billion, and analysts said no institution in the recession-battered nation has the funds to repay depositors. The court's ruling was specific to only one case challenging the decree, but another 180,000 are pending.

Election monitors blasted Wednesday's presidential runoff in Armenia that gave incumbent Robert Kocharian a new five-year term. A spokesman for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said the 67.5 percent-to-32.5 percent outcome over challenger Stepan Demirchyan was marred by serious and widespread irregularities, a stronger complaint than that following the Feb. 19 first round. Opposition supporters were expected to stage a mass demonstration in protest.

A commercial jet on a domestic flight crashed on takeoff in southern Algeria. Early reports said only one of the 103 people aboard survived.

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