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Despite reports of more heavy losses, militiamen loyal to radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr were pouring mortar fire on US and Iraqi forces in Najaf. The threatened "final" assault on the old city's Imam Ali Mosque had yet to begin, however, because it would anger others in the majority Shiite population and further destabilize the situation with five months to go before Iraq's scheduled national election. The government said it wanted to avoid "even the most trivial damage" to the shrine and was willing to wait for an agreement on turning control over to more senior Shiite authorities.

Iran intends to build "more than one" additional nuclear power plant, a senior government official said, despite US concerns that byproducts from the production of electricity could be used to make warheads. The official said the Tehran government has a "contract with Russia" for the project and that at least two European countries also have expressed interest in participating. Russia already is building Iran's first nuclear power plant at a cost that will exceed $1 billion, he said.

Political violence was erupting across Bangladesh after attackers threw grenades into an opposition Awami League rally Saturday, killing at least 19 people and wounding as many as 300 others. Among the victims was opposition leader and ex-Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who required medical treatment for an ear injury. In the worst incident of retaliation, a mob stopped a train near Dhaka, forced passengers off, and set it on fire.

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Convoys ferrying critical supplies to Nepal's capital had to be escorted by military helicopters as communist rebels extended their siege of the city to a fifth day. The government said it was prepared to transport food and other items in Army vehicles, if necessary, to prevent scarcities. No blockades are in place, reports said, but the rebels have set off bombs and attacked police and soldiers to back up their warning that vehicles stay off the roads.

Armed thieves took advantage of minimal security at an art museum devoted to expressionist painter Edvard Munch in Oslo and escaped with versions of his masterpieces, "The Scream" and "Madonna." Their frames later were found discarded in another section of the Norwegian capital, but art experts said both paintings are so well known that the thieves may find them impossible to sell. Munch painted multiple versions of both works, which are worth millions of dollars.

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