World

Two members of Iranian intelligence were caught with explosives in Baghdad, apparently as they prepared to carry out a car-bomb attack, Fox News reported. The announcement was rare; previously Iran was believed to be trying to influence developments in Iraq through the use of cash so as to avoid a direct confrontation with the US.

The term of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was shortened by one year, meaning he must schedule a national election not later than November 2006. In issuing that ruling Tuesday, the Supreme Court effectively weakened prospects that the opposition Labor Party would join Sharon's minority government because it would share power for barely two years, analysts said. Meanwhile, political maneuvering and violence in the Gaza Strip hold the potential to delay Sharon's planned withdrawal from the area by the end of next year. Senior officials refused to meet Tuesday with US, UN, European Union, and Russian diplomats who seek to mediate between Israel and the Palestinians on the withdrawal.

At least 70 more people have died this week in ethnic violence in Sudan's Darfur region, a local legislator reported. But he said they were victims of a dispute between Arab and African tribes that did not involve the Arab militiamen known as Janjaweed, who have been accused of ethnic cleansing in the area. Meanwhile, leaders of the African Union, which is to send 300 troops to Darfur, called the situation there "grave" and demanded that the Sudanese government arrest and prosecute the Janja-weed. Last week, President Omar el-Bashir promised visiting Secretary of State Powell and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan he would disarm the militias.

A suspected Tamil separatist triggered an explosive belt, killing herself and four police officers in Sri Lanka's capital, Colombo. Eleven others were hurt. The blast occurred after she was prevented from entering the office of the government's agriculture minister, a Tamil who's an outspoken opponent of the separatist cause. The incident was the first of its type since Tamil rebels and government forces agreed to a truce 2-1/2 years ago. The rebel movement observed its annual "Black Tiger Day" earlier this week in memory of its bombers.

Four days of mourning and a state funeral were ordered for Austrian President Thomas Klestil, who died Tuesday. Klestil, whose term was to have ended Thursday, was widely hailed for helping to repair Austria's image, which had been tarnished by revelations about the ties to Nazi Germany of his predecessor and former UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim.

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