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A predawn raid by US Army troops near Tikrit nabbed another of Iraq's most-wanted fugitives from the Saddam Hussein regime, plus other "fairly bad guys," a US military official said. They were not immediately identified. In other developments, the first reported handover of an Iraqi city to local civilian authorities took place in Umm Qasr, the nation's only deep-water port. The city had been occupied by British troops, most of whom will leave within days, their commander said.

The terrorists behind this week's bombings in Saudi Arabia "clearly" had been trained by Al Qaeda, the Interior Ministry said as FBI agents prepared to join the investigation into the incidents. Meanwhile, in other terrorism-related developments:

• Nine Lebanese were arrested in what the Beirut government said was a planned attack on the US Embassy.

• Security forces in Kenya were on high alert and Americans there were warned to be extra-vigilant after the Al Qaeda plotter behind the 1998 US Embassy bombing was spotted in neighboring Somalia. He has been "coming in and going out" of Kenya, officials said.

• Bombs exploded at 18 gas stations in Karachi, Pakistan. But police said they seemed aimed at scaring the public rather than causing injury.

Terrorism was ruled out by authorities in northern India, where a packed overnight train caught fire, killing at least 39 passengers. Speculation on the cause centered on a lighted cigarette or a short-circuit in the electrical system of the Bombay-to-Amritsar express.

All-night negotiations with the French government failed to satisfy two of the nation's most powerful unions, and they announced a continuation of the transportation, electricity, and gas strikes that began Tuesday as well as plans for more walkouts next week. The unions are protesting proposed reforms of the state pension system.

The presidency of Argentina went by default to a little-known governor after ex-leader Carlos Menem pulled out of Sunday's runoff election. Analysts said the first test for Nestor Kirchner of oil-rich Patagonia Province will be to show an ability to compromise if he is to lift the nation out of a five-year recession.

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