World

The US-backed road map to peace in the Middle East appeared perhaps beyond rescue, and calls by senior Israelis for the expulsion of Yasser Arafat grew louder with the resignation of Mahmoud Abbas as Palestinian Authority prime minister. Abbas, who made clear that his move was in large part due to Arafat's refusal to give him authority over security services, said the resignation was final. Speculation centered on Ahmed Qureia, the Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, as his successor.

Israel braced for an expected new attack by Hamas after a failed attempt to kill the radical group's leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. The wheelchair-bound Yassin was slightly injured on his way out of a house in Gaza City as it was hit Saturday by an Israeli bomb and vowed: "The Israeli people will pay a dear price for this crime." For his part, Israeli Prime Minister Sharon was quoted as saying Hamas's leaders "are marked for death. We won't give them a minute's rest."

Without saying how much, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld pledged a significant increase in US spending in Afghanistan. In a show of support for embattled President Hamid Karzai, Rumsfeld arrived in the wake of a campaign by US and government forces in which at least 84 Taliban insurgents were killed and five others were captured, one of them the ex-commander of the city of Jalalabad.

The deployment of international peacekeepers in north-central Liberia appeared back on track after the war-torn nation's Defense Ministry ordered its forces off a main road linking the area to the capital, Monrovia. The peacekeepers were to enter the area Monday. The peacekeepers are expected to be at full strength - 3,500 men - by Wednesday, when a contingent of Ghanian troops arrives.

Government forces savored one of their most successful missions in Colombia, killing at least 25 suspected communist rebels and capturing 50 others. The fighting involved assaults on bases used by the Revolutionary Armed Forces and National Liberation Army. Meanwhile, President Alvaro Uribe promised military or police escorts for tourists arriving by cruise ship in the historic Caribbean port of Cartagena.

Accurate damage assessments could take several more days after the most powerful hurricane in 50 years lashed Bermuda, reports said, and the search was on for four people unaccounted for after their cars were swept off a causeway. The island absorbed a direct hit from Fabian's 120 m.p.h. winds late Friday.

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