World

Almost all of the international aid agencies working in Iraq are considering leaving in the wake of the abductions of two Italians Tuesday, a coordinator said. There was no word on the fate of the two women who work for the group A Bridge to Baghdad since terrorists took them and an Iraqi colleague at gunpoint. Meanwhile, terrorists also kidnapped the deputy governor of volatile Anbar Province and assassinated the assistant director of the Interior Ministry's criminal division.

A $10 million bounty was offered by the Russian government for information leading to the death or arrest of Chechen separatist leaders Shamil Basayev and Aslan Maskhadov in the wake of last week's massacre of school students and their parents. And armed forces chief Yuri Baluevsky threatened "preemptive strikes on terrorist bases ... in any region of the world." Maskhadov is blamed for the massacre in Beslan, which authorities say killed 326 hostages and wounded 727 others. Meanwhile, the province's leader said he'd fire his entire government by Friday.

As many as 25,000 volunteers are expected to sign up Thursday for duty as human shields to protect the key reactor in Iran's nuclear program, organizers said. The Tehran government insists the facility, being built with Russian help, will be used only to generate electricity. But officials frequently have speculated that the US and Israel, which suspect Iran of developing a weapons program, will try to destroy the Bushehr reactor via airstrikes. UN diplomats said Tuesday that Iran has offered to halt some uranium- enrichment activities, but Secretary of State Powell scoffed, calling the offer not "very positive or constructive."

Hard-line President Alexander Lukashenko announced that he'll ask voters in Belarus to scrap term limits in an Oct. 17 referendum that - if it passes - would let him seek at least five more years in office. Analysts said his prospects should be measured by the nostalgia that many Belarussians share with him for the old Soviet Union. But he angered others by extending his first term via a disputed referendum and by stifling dissent. Opposition leaders suggested Lukashenko already has a "grandiose mechanism" in place to falsify the vote totals, if necessary, to win.

A direct hit by hurricane Ivan killed three people on the island of Grenada, knocking out electricity and communications, and flattening an uncounted number of buildings, among them Prime Minister Keith Mitchell's home. Also affected, to a lesser degree, were Barbados, Tobago, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent. The most powerful Caribbean storm in 14 years was bearing down on Jamaica Wednesday with peak winds clocked at 160 m.p.h.

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