Israel released more than 330 Palestinian prisoners in a gesture that the government of Ariel Sharon said is meant to boost confidence in the road map to peace. But Palestinian cabinet minister Yasser Abed Rabbo dismissed it as "worthless" and "a theatrical step to appease Washington." Palestinians want amnesty for all of the estimated 6,000 detainees. Sharon has vowed he won't free those involved in attacks on Israelis. The released prisoners had to sign a pledge to "refrain from hostile activity," although some said they would not abide by it.Skip to next paragraph
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Zeroing in on Jemaah Islamiyah as the most likely culprit in the terrorist bombing in Jakarta, Indonesia, police said documents seized last month from alleged members of the group showed plans to target the area around the Marriott Hotel. Tuesday's blast killed at least 10 people, according to revised government figures. Investigators also said the explosive device bore strong similarities to the one used in last year's deadly attack in Bali, also blamed on the group. During a court appearance, alleged Bali mastermind Imam Samudra said he was "thankful" for the hotel blast.
Iraq's US-appointed Governing Council hopes to organize elections by mid-2004, council member Iyad Allawi said, calling it the best way to secure the withdrawal of US troops. In another rebuilding step, Bernard Kerik, the ex-police commissioner of New York appointed to establish a new Interior Ministry, announced plans to hire and train as many as 35,000 police in the next two years. The US military, meanwhile, said it had taken the brother of one of Saddam Hussein's top bodyguards into custody, accusing the detainee of organizing anti-US attacks.
The death toll rose to 34 from an intense heat wave that's set records across Europe for the past week. Forest fires were raging in parts of Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Germany, among others. Britain suspended some rail service due concerns that tracks might buckle.
As a succession debate intensified, Azerbaijan's ailing President Geidar Aliev was headed to Ohio's Cleveland Clinic from a Turkish military hospital where he'd been receiving treatment since July 8, Azerbaijan's Embassy in Turkey said. The move was announced two days after parliament approved Aliev's less-popular son, Ilham Aliev, as prime minister, positioning him to take over as acting president if the elder Aliev is unable to rule. The former Soviet-era leader became president after independence in 1993.