As President Bush sought UN help with the responsibilities of occupying and rebuilding Iraq, American marines handed over control of the critical city of Najaf to a multinational force of peacekeepers. The transfer was significant because the city is home to Iraq's holiest Shiite Muslim shrine. It had been relatively peaceful until Aug. 29, when a terrorist car bomb exploded, killing a revered cleric and at least 84 others. The takeover by Spanish-led peacekeepers will allow a battalion of the 7th Marine Regiment to return home.
The top treasure still missing from Iraq's antiquities museum since Baghdad fell to coalition forces in April was found undamaged by US military police. The 5,000-year-old Sumerian Mona Lisa is considered one of the earliest representations of the human face and thus is priceless. It was wrapped in cloth and buried in the back yard of a Baghdad residence. Other pieces looted from the museum have been found as far away as the US and Britain.
Three suspected Al Qaeda members and at least one policeman were killed in a shootout in southern Saudi Arabia, the latest in a series of government crackdowns on Muslim militancy. Four others were hurt. The incident began when the militants fled from a raid on their hideout to the living quarters of a nearby hospital, taking residents hostage. Authorities said two radicals surrendered. The crackdowns have intensified since 35 people died in the terrorist bombing of a housing complex favored by foreign nationals in Riyadh, the capital, May 12.
In a new blow to the just-banned Daily News of Harare, Zimbabwe's only independent newspaper, police said they'd charge its owner and the entire editorial staff with operating an illegal organization. The paper, which gave a voice to the opposition Movement for Democracy, had refused to be licensed in protest against the nation's tough year-old media law. When it finally sought registration last week, the government's Media Commission denied the application.
The fragile peace between the government of Ivory Coast and rebel forces appeared threatened when the latter suspended their participation in a power-sharing deal with President Laurent Gbagbo. They also backed out of the disarmament process called for under the accord brokered by France, accusing Gbagbo of giving away the defense and security portfolios without consulting them. A rebel leader said his forces were "open to dialogue" on the matter but did not specify what concessions they would seek. An apparent plot to assassinate Gbagbo was foiled last month.