World

Palestinian terrorists detonated a tunnel stuffed with explosives under an Israeli army checkpoint on the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt Sunday, and early reports said the number of people hurt was at least 10. A second explosion occurred about an hour later, although there were no immediate reports of death or injury. The incidents diverted attention from negotiations between Prime Minister Sharon's Likud movement and the opposition Labor Party on a new unity government that would help expedite Sharon's plan for a withdrawal from Gaza next year.

The number of political groups registering candidates for Iraq's crucial Jan. 30 election grew to 70 over the weekened and seemed likely to rise further as the deadline for filing was extended to Wednesday. But against that backdrop, terrorists in the Sunni heartland pressed on with their relentless attacks, killing an Iraqi police general, five other police, and a US marine, and wounding 14 more Americans.

Eighteen thousand US troops are in the early days of a new search-and-destroy mission against Taliban and Al Qaeda remnants in Afghanistan, a military spokesman announced Saturday. The operation will last the winter, he said, and will focus on the porous border with Pakistan - to help improve conditions for next spring's election for a new parliament. Meanwhile, Afghan President Hamid Karzai told CNN that Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden "definitely" remains in that region, despite Pakistani claims that his trail has gone cold.

Saying, "We didn't work hard enough," Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian acknowledged defeat for his Democratic Progressive Party in Saturday's election for new members of parliament. In what analysts called a surprise, an alliance led by the former ruling Nationalist Party won 114 of the 225 seats, leaving Chen's DPP with 89. The analysts said the defeat means that Chen probably will have a difficult task pushing his plan for a new constitution to enshrine the goal of declaring independence from China.

Suspicion fell on Islamist terrorists for a powerful explosion in the southern Philippines that killed at least 15 people and wounded 58 others. The blast went off in a market in the city of General Santos that was crowded with Christmas shoppers. Trials of Muslim defendants are still being held after a similar explosion in the city two years ago that killed 14 people.

The entire government of Portugal resigned in protest Saturday after President Jorge Sampaio announced he was disbanding parliament so that an early election can be held Feb. 20. Sampaio, a Socialist, has been feuding with conservative Prime Minister Pedro Santana Lopes, whose administration has struggled with a series of gaffes since the European Union tapped his predecessor to become its chief last July.

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