World

Shiites loyal to extremist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr took another beating Sunday in clashes with US forces in Iraq. A military spokesman said the Americans killed 18 of Sadr's fighters in Baghdad after the latter had tried to set up checkpoints in one of the capital's neighborhoods. Elsewhere in the city, however, a bomb exploded in a crowded marketplace, killing seven people and wounding 13 others.

The first court-martial of a US military policeman accused of mistreating Iraqi prisoners will open May 19, the American command announced. If convicted, Spc. Jeremy Sivits of Hyndman, Pa., could forfeit two-thirds of his pay, be fined, imprisoned for one year, reduced in rank to private, dishonorably discharged, or any combination of those penalties.

Five suspects were in police custody in the capital of Chechnya after a powerful explosion that killed the volatile region's president and three other people as they attended holiday celebrations in a sports arena. Akhmad Kadyrov had opened the ceremonies only minutes before the blast went off, collapsing his seating area and injuring 53 people. Kadyrov, a Muslim and onetime insurgent, was considered a traitor by Chechen rebels after he made peace with Russian leaders.

Almost 43 million voters are eligible to go to the polls Monday in an election that will decide whether Philippines President Gloria Arroyo or movie star Fernando Poe Jr. leads the nation for the next six years. Three other challengers are considered too far behind in opinion surveys to affect the outcome. Arroyo, a steady ally of the US counterterrorism war, held a seven-point lead over Poe, although 12 percent of respondents said they were undecided.

All noncriminal cases before the courts in Taiwan were suspended so at least 1,600 judges can preside over the recount of ballots in the disputed March 20 presidential election. The new tally, beginning Monday, is expected to focus on 330,000 ballots that were rejected as spoiled - out of more than 13 million cast. The recount was demanded by challenger Lien Chan, who lost to incumbent Chen Shui-bian by fewer than 30,000 votes.

A teenager whose family operates a small computer business in northern Germany was freed pending criminal charges after confessing to being responsible for the internationally destructive "Sasser" virus. He was arrested Friday after informants seeking a reward from Micro-soft Corp. tipped off investigators. Police also arrested a second German who admitted to developing another virus known as "Agobot" and "Phatbot."

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