World

The decapitated remains of three more people were found by a road in central Iraq in another day of gruesome violence. Police said the victims appeared to be Arabs, although their identities were unknown. Dozens of people have been taken hostage by terrorist groups, and several have been beheaded because the captors' demands weren't met. At least four Westerners still are believed to be in terrorist hands - two Italian women and two French journalists. Terrorists also had boasted of capturing Australians, but the Canberra government said all its nationals in Iraq were accounted for.

Israel has broken faith with the US-backed "road map" to peace with the Palestinians, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said. He told the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper that it's possible nothing else on the peace front will happen for "a very long period" unless there is a change in Palestinian strategy, "and there is not even the tiniest sign pointing to such a change." Meanwhile, Israeli forces followed up an airstrike Monday that killed three Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades members in the West Bank with two more clashes Wednesday in which 10 more militants and an 11-year-old girl died.

Peace negotiations on Darfur have collapsed, Sudan's non-Arab Muslim rebels said, but government representatives insisted that they'd still show up for a scheduled session late Wednesday. The two sides have been unable to agree on security issues in the region. Meanwhile, the second draft of a UN resolution referring Sudan to the Security Council for possible economic sanctions because of ethnic cleansing in Darfur was rejected by the Khartoum government. Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail called it "imbalanced and unfair."

"The situation [in Pakistan] has changed," so President Pervez Musharraf will not honor his promise to give up the post of armed forces chief, a spokes-man announced. He said, "The national situation demands that he keep the two offices." In a deal with political opponents late last year, Musharraf agreed to give up the military post by the end of this year, but terrorist and sectarian violence have continued to keep the nation unstable.

Amid intense security precautions, the schools in Beslan, Russia, reopened for the first time since the hostage massacre two weeks ago. More than three-quarters of students failed to report for classes, however. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the Bush administration had no right to try to impose the US model of democracy on other nations - a swipe at criticism of President Vladimir Putin's controversial plan to counter terrorism via a radical change that will give him near-dictatorial powers.

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