World

A furious Ahmad Chalabi protested a raid on his home and offices by US troops in Baghdad. Reports said they removed documents perhaps related to an investigation into alleged fraud in the UN oil-for- food program, which American officials have complained the wealthy businessman has been interfering in. Chalabi, a member of the interim Governing Council, once was seen as Iraq's future leader. But he has turned deeply critical of the US, saying, "I am pushing the gate in a way they don't like."

Despite a new UN rebuke that the Bush administration did not veto, Israel intensified its offensive against a Palestinian refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, demolishing more buildings. An Army spokeswoman said the mission would continue until its goals are accomplished. But her government apologized for Wednesday's deaths of Palestinians by tank fire as they protested the Rafah offensive. Meanwhile, Palestinian militant leader Marwan Bargouti was convicted of murder by a court in Tel Aviv and prosecutors said they'd ask that he be sentenced to life in prison. Radicals in his Fatah movement vowed to kidnap Israeli soldiers to exchange for his freedom.

Lasting peace with nuclear rival Pakistan and an investor-friendly business climate were pledged by India's Prime Minister-designate Manmohan Singh in an address to the nation. He also promised "reforms with a human face" that would benefit the rural poor, ethnic minorities, and farmers - groups that his Congress Party claimed in its election campaign were ignored by the outgoing Hindu nationalist government. Pakistan, which opens talks next week with India on matters of bilateral concern, called his remarks positive and constructive.

Newly reelected President Chen Shui-bian accepted the oath of office in Taiwan, ruling out any early attempts at independence from China. But in his inaugural speech, he vowed to press for adoption of a constitution that the Beijing government regards as the same as a declaration of independence. Chinese officials had no immediate reaction to his speech.

A new political crisis appeared to be unfolding in Ivory Coast, where rebels accused President Laurent Gbagbo of "killing" last year's peace deal by firing two of their cabinet members from the unity government. Gbagbo replaced the information and technical education ministers - one of them the rebels' chief - with persons from his own party. He also fired the infrastructure minister, a member of an opposition party.

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