World

A "cease-fire without exceptions" on the part of Palestinian radical groups still had not been declared as the Monitor went to press, despite the expectation by Yasser Arafat early Thursday that such an announcement would be made "in the coming few hours." Hamas and Islamic Jihad spokesmen were insisting that a decision was not yet final on a three-month moratorium on terrorist attacks against Israelis. A senior member of the Palestinian Legislative Council suggested it could be extended if honored by both sides. But Israeli government officials said they'd deal only with Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, not "with Hamas, Jihad - not even with Arafat." (Related story, page 1.)

The pace of attacks against US troops or reconstruction efforts in Iraq picked up, and a previously unheard-of group was claiming much of the responsibility. Three more ambushes in or near Baghdad were reported Thursday, and sabotage was suspected in an explosion and fire that damaged an oil pipeline, the sixth such incident in two weeks. Al Jazeera, the Arab satellite TV station, broadcast a videotape from an organization calling itself Muslim Fighters of the Victorious Sect that claimed it had initiated some of the attacks. The tape warned Iraqis away from areas where US troops are deployed and promised further strikes. (Related story, page 7.)

An ultimatum to hand over the killers of six British soldiers in southern Iraq won't be met because those responsible cannot be identified, local leaders said. They also warned against the British "overstepping their limits" by trying to arrest suspects in the case. Still, a British general told journalists, "We will do our utmost to ensure those responsible are held to account."

The protest movement against Iran's unelected clerical regime appeared to be coming to a head with a "final warning" signed by 106 prominent students and sent to President Muhamad Khatami. It declares an end to dialogue with "the ruling establishment" over hoped-for political and social reforms and calls on Khatami, who was elected on promises to deliver change, to adopt "before it's too late ... a reasonable solution" to their demands "or have the courage to resign." More than 500 people are under arrest as a result of the most recent antigovernment protests, but organizers have vowed to defy a government ban on public rallies next month.

Stiff resistance by forces loyal to embattled Liberian President Charles Taylor was pushing rebel fighters out of the port district of the capital, Monrovia. But worries that the renewed rebel offensive would result in high civilian casualties were being realized. As many as 300 noncombatants were reported killed as of Thursday, with perhaps 1,000 more wounded.

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