World

Israel and Hamas were carrying out almost hourly attacks against each other as hopes for new momentum toward Middle East peace appeared as distant as they've been in months. In Jerusalem, a Hamas bomber aboard a city bus killed himself and at least 13 other passengers and wounded 65 more. Soon after, Israeli helicopters over Gaza City rocketed a car carrying a Hamas commander, Tito Massoud. He and at least five other people were killed. The tit-for-tat attacks began Tuesday when Israel targeted another senior Hamas militant, Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi, wounding him. Rejecting international condemnation, Israel said it had made clear its policy of "no concessions to terror."

A protest by thousands of Iranians demanding democratic change was broken up by police in Tehran. "About 80" participants reportedly were arrested. The rally apparently came in response to a call from a US-based satellite TV station run by Iranian exiles and followed weeks of tough rhetoric by the Bush administration against the hard-line Muslim clerics who run the country. Would-be reformists in parliament said they expected more protests soon "because the ground is ready."

In three sometimes bitter interviews, retiring UN weapons inspections chief Hans Blix accused the Bush administration of smearing his name and pressuring him to use stronger terms in his reports on Iraq's weaponry to the Security Council. But he said of the so-far apparently fruitless search for weapons of mass destruction by coalition forces: "We cannot exclude that they may find something." Meanwhile, on the ground, US troops arrested 397 suspected Baath Party members and seized quantities of guns and ammunition in a crackdown triggered by the daily attacks on American soldiers.

Seventy-one pipeline workers were found unharmed in Peru's mountain jungles a day after their capture by communist Shining Path guerrillas. The government said police and soldiers sent to free the hostages had returned them to their camp and now were pursuing the captors. A $1 million ransom demand was not paid, the government said.

The offer of a provisional authority for northern Sri Lanka was rejected by Tamil rebels, potentially costing the civil war-torn island $5 billion in pledges of aid by international donors. The rebels called Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's offer "disappointing" and said they wouldn't return to peace talks until they saw a "clearly defined framework" for the regional authority. The aid to rebuild shattered areas of Sri Lanka is mostly conditional on the resumption of peace talks.

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