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Militants assassinated an Iraqi general and a colonel who were en route to work Thursday, and a car bomb exploded near a market and theater in eastern Baghdad, incidents in a wave of attacks that killed at least 21 Iraqis and wounded more than 70, authorities said. The violence comes despite a major US offensive aimed at followers of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Iraq's most-wanted terrorist, in a region near the Syrian border said to be a staging ground for some of the deadliest attacks. At least five Marines and as many as 100 insurgents have been killed in all in Operation Matador, which entered its fifth day Thursday. Insurgent violence has killed more than 400 people in two weeks.

The European Court of Human Rights declared the 1999 trial of Kurdish rebel Abdullah Ocalan unfair on Thursday, pressuring Turkey to defy nationalist anger and order a retrial in support of its European Union ambitions. The Turkish government signalled that Ocalan could indeed be tried anew, but it moved quickly to assure Turks who revile him as a terrorist bent on dismembering their nation that he would not walk free. Above, Kurdish demonstrators, with a flag bearing Ocalan's image, show their support for him outside the human rights court in Strasbourg, France.

China agreed that military conflict can be avoided if Taiwan doesn't pursue formal independence, a Taiwanese opposition leader said Thursday after meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao. James Soong was the second Taiwanese opposition leader to visit Beijing as part of Chinese efforts to boost flagging sentiment on Taiwan in favor of uniting the self-ruled island with China. Taiwan split with the mainland in 1949, but Beijing claims it as Chinese territory and has threatened to take it by force.

Police clashed with anti-US demonstrators in two Afghan towns, killing at least three people in Kabul on Thursday as protests spread over reported abuse of Islam's holy book at the US prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. While most of the protesters appeared to be students, officials have suggested that elements opposed to the country's US-backed re-emergence were stirring the violence. Growing urban unrest could pose another security challenge for the Afghan government, which is already battling a reinvigorated Taliban insurgency. About 18,000 US troops are in Afghanistan, fighting rebels and searching for Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden.

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