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A Palestinian mother exploded a terrorist bomb at the busy Eretz crossing point between Israel and the Gaza Strip, killing herself and four other people and wounding seven more. Hamas quickly claimed responsibility for the attack - believed to be its first by a female - and vowed there would be more. Israel's first response was to announce the closure until further notice of the crossing, which is used daily by thousands of Palestinians who work at factories on the Israeli side.

US forces in Iraq captured No. 54 on their list of most-wanted fugitives from the regime of former dictator Saddam Hussein, plus four nephews of No. 6 - Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, who is believed to be orchestrating terrorist attacks by resisters of the American presence. The announcements were balanced against more attacks, however. A car bomb explosion in the restive city of Baquoba killed at least two people and hurt 29 others, most of them Iraqi policemen. Near Tikrit, Hussein's hometown, gunmen ambushed a US civilian contractor's convoy, killing two drivers and wounding others.

By unanimous vote, 80 protesting members of parliament in Iran rejected President Mohamad Khatami's appeal to end their four-day sit-in. Khatami sought the move to help him in trying to resolve the crisis arising from the disqualification of thousands of would-be political reformers as candidates in next month's legislative election. He criticized the ban by the hard-line Guardian Council, which issued it last weekend. Councillors were meeting with Khatami on the matter Wednesday, but said they would not be pressured into overturning the bans. Spokesmen for the protesters said Khatami lacked "sufficient legal powers" to apply such pressure anyway.

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An appeal by NATO for more troops to swell the ranks of its peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan was answered by Italy, Norway, and Sweden. The alliance maintains a 5,500-man force in the capital, Kabul, and last week began to extend its reach into provincial cities. The UN's top representative in Afghanistan said in an interview Sunday that 10,000 more foreign troops are needed to underpin security as the country prepares for its presidential election in June.

All 37 people aboard a passenger jet were killed as it crashed in heavy fog while trying to land late Tuesday in the former Soviet republic of Uzbekistan. Among the casualties: the chief of the UN's mission in Tash-kent, the capital. Uzbek authorities opened an investigation into the accident but said no evidence pointed to terrorism.

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