World

Terrorists exploded a powerful car bomb outside Australia's embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, the second such incident in the city in 13 months. Early reports said at least eight people, all Indonesians, were killed; more than 130 others were hurt. Suspicion fell immediately on Jemaah Islamiyah, a network of Muslims with links to Al Qaeda. It also is blamed for the October 2002 bombings on the tourist island of Bali, which killed 202 people, 88 of them Australians. A furious Australian Prime Minister John Howard said his nation wouldn't be intimidated by terrorism.

Casualties were reported heavy as US and Iraqi troops mounted assaults on three terrorist strongholds: Fallujah, Tal Afar, and Samarra. An Internet site operated by Abu Musab al- Zarqawi's Tawhid and Jihad group acknowledged that at least four of its "mujahideen" were among the dead. Near Halabja in northern Iraq, workers on a road crew uncovered a mass grave that they said contains "dozens or even hundreds of bodies" of people killed under Saddam Hussein's rule.

Ten of the terrorists involved in last weekend's massacre inside a Russian school were identified as being from Chechnya or the neighboring republic of Ingu-shetia, itself the scene of repeated violence. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov bitterly accused Western government of weakening the global counterrorism war by granting asylum to Chechen rebels. For their part, the rebels countered the $10 million reward offered by the Kremlin Wednesday for the capture of their leaders with a $20 million bounty on President Vladimir Putin. In Putin's hometown, St. Petersburg, police found a cache of plastic explosive, detonators, dynamite, a gun, and ammunition in a movie theater closed for renovations.

Two pro-democracy candidates were attacked physically and police released compromising photographs of a third in Hong Kong as it prepared for the most fiercely contested legislative election since being ceded back to China seven years ago. The organization Human Rights Watch called the political climate in the ex-British colony "toxic" and newspapers accused the Beijing government of meddling in Sunday's vote, out of concern that the pro-democracy forces could win a majority of seats.

"Let us pray for God's care," Prime Minister P. J. Patterson said as hurricane Ivan approached Jamaica with top winds of 160 m.p.h. Hundreds of miles to the east, on Grenada, 10 more deaths were blamed on the storm, bringing the count to 13. The Bush administration released the first $50,000 in emergency aid, promising more when damage assessments are complete. Ivan destroyed or damaged 90 percent of the island's dwellings.

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