World

Six British soldiers died and several others were wounded, some seriously, as anti-coalition resistance spread to southern Iraq, apparently for the first time. The casualties resulted from two clashes with unidentified people north of Basra, Iraq's No. 2 city, where British troops have been patroling for weeks in relatively relaxed fashion without helmets or flak jackets. At least 19 Americans have been killed under similar circumstances north and west of the British sector. (Related stories, pages 1, 6.)

Major new pressure was applied against Hamas by Israeli troops and prosecutors, in an apparent bid to help new Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas crack down on militants. In a sweep through the West Bank cities of Hebron and Nablus, security forces rounded up more than 160 Palestinians suspected of involvement with Hamas, although most were expected to be released after being interrogated. Meanwhile, prosecutors charged five members of Israel's largest Arab political organization with channeling $6.8 million in donations raised illegally abroad to Hamas. And, in a related development, sources in the European Union confirmed a report that it had been asked by representatives of Abbas to blacklist Hamas as a terrorist organization.

In a live TV broadcast, the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) was declared over in Beijing, and the World Health Organization lifted its warning against travel there. The capital was the last city in the world to be cleared. With more than 2,500 reported cases and more than 190 deaths from SARS, the most of any affected area, Beijing became the focus of international alarm over the virus, and its normally thriving tourism industry at this time of year was hit hard. Above, Beijing residents react to the lifting of the travel warning.

The week-old cease-fire in Liberia's civil war appeared to be in tatters as serious fighting was reported to be closing in again on the capital, Monrovia. Heavy shelling was causing a new flood of refugees away from the area. The rebel Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy and forces loyal to President Charles Taylor accuse each other of repeatedly violating the truce, the latest of more than a dozen that have been broken dating back to the 1990s. The new deal called for discussions on replacing Taylor with a transition government, but he has said he won't leave until his term expires in January and will reserve the right to run in future elections.

The first woman prime minister of Finland will be replaced by a former journalist, members of parliament decided. They confirmed Matti Vanhanen for the post a week after Anneli Jaatteenmaki quit amid allegations that, to win election in March, she illegally posted classified security information on her website. The scandal toppled Finland's three-party coalition government, the fastest such collapse in almost 60 years.

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