World

An explosion outside the home of one of Iraq's top Shiite Muslim clerics killed three guards and injured 10 other people. The blast in the city of Najaf left Mohammed Saeed al-Hakim with only minor scratches, an associate said, blaming terrorists loyal to the former regime of Saddam Hussein. US administrator Paul Bremer said the arrival of "a large number of international terrorists" is adding to instability in the country and echoed President Bush's call for a multinational peacekeeping force in an interview with ABC-TV's "The Week." Elsewhere, two days of ethnic clashes between Kurdish and Turkmen fighters reportedly left at least 10 people dead in the northern city of Kirkuk.

In the deepest strike to date into Israeli territory, a Hamas-built Qassam-2 rocket hit a beach five miles north of the Gaza Strip. There were no reports of casualties, but the attack defied a security clampdown by the Palestinian Authority amid signs of an internal power struggle. Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction approved a new interior minister with broad security powers, apparently undermining his US-backed security chief, Mohammed Dahlan.

Demonstrating his strong popularity despite an opposition recall effort, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez celebrated the midway point in his six-year term with a massive rally Saturday in the capital, Caracas. As many as 500,000 people turned out to march, wave banners, and dance to salsa music. Officials said one person died and 21 others were injured when a security fence collapsed.

Rwandan police arrested a dozen campaign workers for main opposition candidate Faustin Twagiramungu Saturday, alleging a plot to disrupt Monday's presidential election. Twagiramungu denied that, saying the detentions were meant to intimidate his supporters. Incumbent Paul Kagame is favored to win the first multiparty vote in Rwanda's history and the first poll since the 1994 genocide.

Dealing a heavy blow to Brazil's nascent space program, a $6 million rocket exploded on the launch pad Friday, killing all 21 workers in the vicinity. The blast, at the seaside Alcantara Launch Center near Sao Luis, in northeastern Brazil, came three days before Monday's planned liftoff to carry Latin America's first satellites into orbit.

A fast-moving, 400-foot wall of flame forced the evacuation of 30,000 people from Kelowna, British Columbia, Saturday. Canadian officials said the blaze consumed more than 200 homes. "Those homes aren't half gone, they're flat," observed fire chief Gerry Zimmerman.

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