World

A powerful car bomb exploded outside police headquarters in Baghdad, killing one officer and injuring 15 others as terrorists resisting the reconstruction of Iraq focused on yet another key target. Meanwhile, in Najaf, police sources said a Palestinian, two Saudis, and six Iraqis - all with connections to Al Qaeda - were arrested on suspicion of involvement in last week's bombing of the most important Shiite Muslim shrine. That attack killed 125 people, among them leading cleric Mohamad Baqir al-Hakim, who advocated cooperation with the US in rebuilding Iraq.

Critics called the four-year prison sentence for fiery Indo-nesian Muslim cleric Abu Bakr Bashir a "slap on the wrist" for his conviction on treason charges. But the prosecution in the case failed to prove that he's the leader of a terrorist network believed to have links to Al Qaeda, the court ruled. Bashir vowed to appeal the sentence, which is 11 years shorter than prosecutors had demanded. The case was widely seen as a test of the government's willingness to crack down on radical Islam. Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation.

Reports that Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas was ready to quit were denied by sources close to him. But his security chief told an interviewer that Abbas's struggle with Yasser Arafat for power is likely to defy permanent solution, and another senior Palestinian said the two now "hate each other." Against that backdrop, Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz suggested that a decision to expel Arafat is near - "possibly even this year" - because he "never wanted to reach an agreement with us."

Confusion reigned in Venezuela after the Supreme Court declared its own ruling on the fate of controversial President Hugo Chávez a forgery. The ruling, as released late last week, said Chávez couldn't seek reelection should he lose a recall referendum opponents seek to force later this year. But the justices said Monday night that someone had altered their decision. The text of the original had not yet been made public as the Monitor went to press.

The truce declared five years ago by Turkey's Kurdish rebels is over, news agencies with close ties to their movement reported. They said the decision was reached because the cease-fire hadn't been matched by the government. The Foreign Ministry shrugged off the news, although analysts said it comes at a difficult time for Turkey, whose bid to join the European Union hinges largely on its human rights record with respect to the Kurds. More than 30,000 people have died in the movement's campaign for an independent state, and the government has vowed to crush it.

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