World

The UN isn't doing enough to help prepare Iraq for its scheduled national election in January, the interim government complained. Noting that a far smaller number of organizers were in place than the UN sent for the 1999 referendum on independence in East Timor, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said, "We definitely need a larger presence ... to bestow trust on the electoral process." Earlier this week, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said only Fiji has responded to his call for guards to protect UN staffers in Iraq. Meanwhile, terrorists cut off a bus carrying Iraqi civilians - many of them women - to their jobs at Baghdad's airport, executing four and wounding 11 others.

An 850-man battalion of British troops will be shifted from southern Iraq to an unspeficied area of the volatile Sunni triangle, Prime Minister Blair's government announced. But it withheld all other details except to say that the mission would last "weeks rather than months." It was requested by US commanders in Iraq. American and Iraqi forces have been hitting hard at suspected concentrations of terrorists in the triangle. Britain's senior general in Iraq said his country also could send additional soldiers to the country as the January election approaches.

Amid warnings of possible civil war, members of Israel's parliament prepared to take up Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's proposal for a withdrawal of settlements and military units from the Gaza Strip. Debate is scheduled for Monday, although the plan may not be voted on until Nov. 3. Sharon's plan has so polarized public opinion that there have been publicly expressed worries over an assassination attempt against him. Justice Minister Yosef Lapid warned far-right rabbis that the government was at "the outer limit of our patience" with them for urging that soldiers refuse orders to remove settlers from Gaza. Those who continue to do so may be prosecuted, Lapid said.

Emergency responders were conducting an intense search for 22 people missing in Japan because of flooding and landslides caused by typhoon Tokage, the worst storm there since 1982. At least 66 deaths are blamed on it.

Hope faded that 88 men would be found alive after the most serious coal mining accident in China this year. At least 60 others died when gas exploded Wednesday inside a shaft of the mine in central Henan Province. Almost 300 coworkers escaped. The mines are notorious for poor safety conditions, which critics say have been made worse by the demand for energy for China's booming economy.

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