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At gunpoint, terrorists in Baghdad kidnapped two US civilians and one Briton who work for a construction company engaged in helping to rebuild Iraq. The men had been staying in a house in an upscale neighborhood and apparently were driven away in their own car. The Americans were identified as Jack Hensley and Eugene Armstrong. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the kidnapping, nor had any demands been issued by the captors as the Monitor went to press.

New concerns arose over next month's scheduled national election in Afghanistan after interim President Hamid Karzai escaped another assassination attempt Thursday. Assailants fired a rocket at his helicopter as it was landing for a campaign appearance at Gardez, a city 60 miles south of Kabul. The rocket exploded short of its target, and no one was hurt, but security guards ordered the helicopter to lift off again and return immediately to the capital. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. Karzai is favored to defeat 17 challengers in the Oct. 9 vote. He also escaped an assassination attempt in September 2002.

A tentative deal on censuring Iran for its nuclear activities was reached by US and European negotiators at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meetings in Vienna. A vote on the final version of the censure resolution is expected Friday. Meanwhile, the Tehran government reacted angrily to a new set of satellite photos that the US said "clearly shows the intention" to develop nuclear weapons. Iran's top delegate to the IAEA meetings called the images "a new lie, like the last 13 ... that have been proved to be lies."

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Until the full extent of rival South Korea's secret experiments with atomic elements are investigated, North Korea "can never" participate in further talks on its own nuclear program, the latter's government said. That stance appeared all but certain to derail the next round of six-nation discussions on the North's activities, which had been projected for later this month or early October in Beijing. Three previous sets of talks have included both Korean governments, plus the US, Japan, Russia, and China, although they have resulted in no breakthroughs. Recent disclosures have revealed that South Korea conducted limited experiments with plutonium in 1982 and with enriching uranium four years ago. But the Seoul government says it has no nuclear weapons program and expects to be exonerated by the IAEA.

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