World

A powerful car bomb exploded in Jakarta, Indonesia, killing 14 people and injuring some 150 others in what the defense minister called an act of terrorism. The blast went off at lunchtime outside the Marriott hotel in the heart of the city's business district. It occurred shortly before an expected verdict in the first trial from last year's bombing in Bali. The suspects are alleged members of Jemaah Islamiyah, a Muslim extremist group linked to Al Qaeda. The Indonesian government quickly ordered stepped-up security checks at the airport and other public venues and is expected to announce further measures Wednesday.

As Nigerian peacekeepers continued to trickle into Monrovia, Liberia, fighting eased between rebels and government forces in the capital, allowing hungry residents to search for food. In another hopeful sign, South African President Thabo Mbeki said Liberian President Charles Taylor promised to leave the country within a day of his resignation, set for Aug. 11. Two US warships carrying marines are stationed off the coast of the West African nation, but it still isn't clear whether American troops will go ashore.

An American civilian contractor was killed by a bomb near Tikrit, Iraq, and two US soldiers were injured in a grenade attack on a police station west of the capital, Baghdad, in the latest incidents blamed on Saddam Hussein loyalists. The UN coordinator of humanitarian aid for Iraq, Ramiro Lopez da Silva, warned that lack of security may endanger efforts to obtain $5 billion in foreign aid at a donor conference in October.

A planned summit between the Israeli and Palestinian prime ministers was canceled for Wednesday as the two sides traded accusations of violating the US-backed road map to peace. Palestinian officials said most of the 440 prisoners Israel pledged to free Wednesday would have completed jail terms soon anyway. Israel, meanwhile, suspended territorial handovers after a shooting attack in Bethlehem Sunday injured an Israeli woman and her three children.

Russian President Putin was to conclude a two-day visit to Malaysia by signing a $900 million deal for 18 Sukhoi Su-30MK aircraft. Russia has sold similar versions of the advanced combat aircraft to China and India.

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