World

Thirty more people were killed in violence inspired by supporters of a radical Shiite Muslim cleric in Iraq, who said he is "prepared to have my own blood shed for what is holy to me." Moqtada al-Sadr was surrounded by heavily armed followers as he left a mosque near Baghdad, where he'd taken refuge, because he said he feared US and other coalition "scum" would violate its sanctity. Aides said he'd move to an office in Najaf. Meanwhile, US marines backed by Iraqi troops reportedly were shelling targets in Fallujah, preparatory to probing the restive city for anti-American resisters.

Under pressure from national and regional government officials, hundreds of heavily armed tribesmen in rural Pakistan began a search for Al Qaeda and Taliban remnants believed to be hiding in the area. But although they were given an April 20 deadline to produce results or be targeted themselves, critics questioned their depth of conviction for the mission. The region involved is the same in which government troops fought for days last month with militants, with heavy casualties on both sides.

Yet another pledge of cooperation with the UN's nuclear watchdog agency was given by Iran's leaders. But in return they said they want inspections of their facilities to end by June. They told visiting International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei they'd "voluntarily suspend" the building of centrifuges for enriching uranium Friday so "our relationship with the agency [can] be normalized." But Iran claimed March 29 that centrifuges no longer were being built.

A delegation of central government officials is due in Hong Kong Wednesday to try to quell the anger over a ruling that residents must have Beijing's OK to change the way their local leaders are elected. The decision by the rubber-stamp National People's Congress came 11 days after the Beijing government warned it would interpret the Hong Kong "miniconstitution" as it saw fit. Marches in support of democratic reform last summer attracted hundreds of thousands of people, alarming Beijing's communist government.

At least 34 people were reported dead in the Mexican city of Piedras Negras because of the worst flooding in memory along the border with the US. Heavy rain that has fallen on the area since Sunday afternoon also demolished 100 houses, washed away cars, sent thousands of people to shelters on higher ground, and left much of the city without electricity and gas service.

Elections for a new president will be held next year, and the winner will assume office in February 2006, Haiti's interim prime minister said. Ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's term would have ended at that time. At a news conference with Prime Minister Gerard Latortue, visiting Secretary of State Powell rejected a call by other Caribbean leaders for an investigation of Aristide's ouster.

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