World

As many as 800 victims are believed to be in a mass grave found by US forces near Baghdad over the weekend, the Pentagon said. All appear to be Shiite Muslims killed by Saddam Hussein's regime as long ago as 1991, an official said. The grave is the 40th discovered so far; as many as 220 others are believed to exist. Meanwhile, as a gesture of "reconciliation," the US announced an amnesty for more than 500 Iraqis arrested during and after last year's war as "low level" security threats.

More massive protests were anticipated in Hong Kong after its unpopular leader said he'd have to consult China's communist government before addressing demands for faster political reform. Tung Chee-hwa said he'd appoint a task force to "seriously examine" the demands, a move that analysts said was a stalling tactic. An estimated 100,000 people marched Jan. 1 to protest for increased voting rights, and perhaps 500,000 did so last July.

The Taliban admitted responsibility after all for setting off two bombs in Kandahar, Afghanistan, that killed 16 people Tuesday. But a spokesman for the ousted militia apologized for the "small mistake," saying the attacks were meant for US soldiers who regularly use the route, rather than the school-age children who died or were wounded. A suspect was arrested immediately, but the Taliban spokesman said "our mujahideen" had escaped.

A national election that would be held March 7 - five months before next summer's Olympic Games - was requested by Greek Premier Costas Simitis - a move that analysts said was made to improve the fortunes of his Socialist Party. Greece is the poorest member of the European Union, and the Socialists are widely accused of corruption and of lacking a clear vision of the nation's future. They trail the conservative New Democracy Party in opinion polls. Simitis also said he'd quit as leader of the Socialists, probably in favor of Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

A suspect with a long criminal record has confessed to the fatal stabbing last September of popular Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lind, his attorney said. Mijailo Mijailovic, who's of Serbian origin, could be sentenced to life in prison for the crime since Sweden doesn't have the death penalty.

With communication available only by satellite phone, worry grew that most of tiny Niue was in ruins after being lashed by the 186 m.p.h. winds of cyclone Heta. First reports said the storm, which hit the remote South Pacific nation Tuesday, killed at least one person and caused massive destruction of its few cash crops. Premier Young Vivian predicted many of the 1,700 residents would choose to abandon the island rather than try to rebuild.

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