World

Hundreds of Iraqi Shiites vented their frustration with radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadar, rallying in Najaf to demand that he order his fighters out of the city. The protest came one day after Sadr announced a new Iraq-wide offensive against coalition forces. But in neighboring Kufa, 13 of his loyalists were killed and 14 others were captured in a fight with US troops. Elsewhere, however, resisters ambushed a convoy operated by US contractor Kellogg, Brown & Root, and some of its personnel were believed to have been taken hostage.

A new Israeli offensive against Palestinian militants was expected after one of the most intense days of fighting in the Gaza Strip in months. Six Israeli soldiers died when their armored personnel carrier ran over a powerful bomb. Hamas claimed responsibility and said it would hold their remains until Israel met unspecified conditions for their return.

Until further notice, the communist government of Cuba suspended the sale - for US dollars - of all consumer goods except food, gasoline, and personal hygiene products. Prices of those items will be raised, a statement said. Before closing time Monday night, Cubans flocked to "dollar stores" that have filled a critical need by stocking plentiful quantities of goods that are scarce elsewhere. The government blamed the move on the "brutal and cruel" decision by the US last week to strengthen its economic embargo, although analysts described the measure as a "relatively modest tweaking."

Another 1,125 police were ordered to Chechnya by Russian President Vladimir Putin in a rare visit to the province whose leader was assassinated Sunday. The death of Akhmad Kadyrov was seen as a bitter setback for Putin, who had proclaimed publicly that the political situation in Chechnya was returning to normal. He also appointed Kadyrov's son and security chief, Ramzan Kadyrov, as first deputy prime minister - a move that analysts suggested was aimed at keeping him from ordering a violent crackdown to avenge his father's death.

Spectators and reporters were kept at bay in Lahore, Pakistan, as opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif returned from exile and quickly was deported again - apparently to Saudi Arabia. He is the brother of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whom military President Pervez Musharraf overthrew in 1999. Sharif had said he wanted to defend himself against a murder charge.

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