World

US forces said they'd killed 360 loyalists of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr as a result of five days of intense fighting in the holy city of Najaf, Baghdad, and elsewhere in Iraq. But despite the heavy losses and a new curfew imposed by the government on the neighborhood his followers dominate in Baghdad, the defiant Sadr told a news conference that he "will keep resisting" US and other coalition forces because, "You can't twin democracy and occupation." In other developments:

• Oil pumping operations near Basra in southern Iraq were shut down after Sadr's militia threatened to target them, a senior official said. Oil is Iraq's No. 1 source of income, and 90 percent of its exports move through Basra.

• Car bombs exploded in two towns northeast of Baghdad, killing seven police officers and four passengers aboard a bus. A deputy governor apparently targeted in one of the blasts was hospitalized in stable condition.

• The court system issued arrest warrants for former Governing Council member Ahmed Chalabi and his nephew, Salem Chalabi, who heads the special tribunal in charge of trying deposed dictator Saddam Hussein. They are charged with counterfeiting and murder, respectively.

A tough investigation was pledged by Prime Minister Juni-chiro Koizumi after the worst accident at a nuclear power plant in Japanese history. Leaking steam killed four workers at Kansai Electric's Mihama plant 200 miles west of Tokyo and injured seven others - two critically. No radiation escaped the building, and authorities said it wasn't necessary to evacuate the town of 11,500 people. But Japan's system of 52 nuclear plants has experienced repeated incidents in recent years that have raised fears about their safety.

Ending a five-month boycott, rebel cabinet ministers rejoined the Ivory Coast government and attended a half-hour meeting with President Laurent Gbagbo. Both sides had been under international pressure to resume the peace process that appeared shattered by the killing of more than 100 anti-Gbagbo demonstrators last March. Ivory Coast remains deeply split between the rebel-held north and the south, which is loyal to Gbagbo, but is supposed to be working toward a democratic election for a new government next year.

By a 156-to-5 vote, members of Russia's upper house of parliament OK'd a controversial bill aimed at ending Soviet-era benefits for tens of millions of the poor and elderly. It needs only President Putin's signature to become law. The measure promises payments of up to $53 a month per person to replace free medicine, transportation, phone service, and guaranteed jobs for the disabled. But critics question where regional governments will find the money to fund the program.

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