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Gruesome new terrorist attacks in five Sunni Muslim-dominated Iraqi cities killed at least 69 people - among them three Americans - and wounded almost 300 others. Hardest-hit was Mosul, where 50 people died from bombings and fire- fights between the terrorists and Iraqi police and US troops on the other side. The other targeted cities were Fallujah, Baquba, Ramadi, and Baghdad. A website claimed that followers of Al Qaeda-linked Abu Musab al-Zarqawi were responsible for the attack in Baquba. The transfer to Iraqis of control over their own affairs remains on schedule for Wednesday.

At least three people died and 15 others were hurt when a terrorist bomb exploded aboard a bus in Istanbul - the second blast within hours in Turkey. Both came as the nation prepares to welcome President Bush for an official visit Saturday and to serve as host to a key meeting of NATO leaders beginning Monday. A communist group claimed responsibility for the first explosion, outside the hotel where Bush is scheduled to stay in Ankara, the capital. It injured three people, two of them police officers. Police said they thought the bomb aboard the bus was being carried to an unspecified site and that the vehicle and its passengers weren't the targets.

While not yet responding officially to a new US offer of concessions in exchange for dismantling North Korea's nuclear weapons program, the latter indicated it wants the equivalent of 2.7 million tons of fuel oil per year, Japanese news reports said. Citing sources close to the six-nation talks in Beijing on the nuclear weapons issue, they said the North Koreans so far have said only that they'd be willing to suspend work on the weapons program rather than undo work already finished. American and North Korean diplomats met in private for two hours on the sidelines of the talks Thursday but offered no details on what they discussed.

Americans and other foreign nationals in Saudi Arabia may carry loaded guns for their protection because of the rising level of terrorist violence there, the government announced. Permits will be issued in such cases, the Interior Ministry said. The word came a day after Crown Prince Abdullah offered amnesty to militants who have yet to be "arrested for carrying out terrorist acts" and who turn themselves over to police within 30 days.

Voters are asked one more time to go to the polls Sunday for a runoff election to choose a president for what's left of the former Yugoslavia. The contest pits Tomislav Nikolic of the ultranationalist Radical Party, who won the most votes in the first round June 13, against Boris Tadic, a leading opposition activist in the final years of the Slobodan Milosevic era. Since the first round, Tadich has picked up the support of millionaire Bogoljub Karic, who finished an unexpectedly strong third.

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