World

The Bush administration sought to put the best face possible on the delay in finishing Iraq's draft constitution, saying the writers were making "heroic efforts" and predicting completion by next week. The committee preparing the document took most of Tuesday off and are expected to resume work Wednesday. Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said, "The pending points do not need too much [more] time" and predicted also that the document would be ready by Monday.

With a midnight deadline looming for the peaceful evacuation of their homes, hundreds of Jewish settlers in the Gaza Strip clashed with Israeli police. At least 50 arrests were reported. Settlers who do not evacuate peacefully are subject to removal by force, although security officials had yet to say in what order they would approach the communities.

Members of parliament were summoned back from recess in Sri Lanka to vote on extending the island's state of emergency for a month in the wake of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadir-gamar's murder. Meanwhile, in the first reported violence since his assassination Friday, suspected Tamil rebels fired on three army posts, killing a soldier and ratcheting tensions to the highest level since both sides agreed to a truce in 2002. The Norwegian mediator of that truce was meeting with government officials Tuesday and planned talks with the rebels' political chief Thursday to assess the deteriorating situation.

Thirty-one people died and about 80 others were hurt in rioting that erupted almost simultaneously in prisons across Guatemala - incidents that the Interior Ministry said showed the coordinating power of gangs. Seven prisons were involved in the violence as rivals fought with grenades, guns, and other weapons before authorities restored control. The ministry said inmates stay in contact by using cellphones and visitors to pass messages back and forth across their network.

All 160 people aboard a passenger jet en route from Panama to the Caribbean island of Martin-ique were killed when it crashed in a remote area along the Venezuela-Colombia border. The pilot had reported engine trouble shortly before the West Caribbean Airways plane disappeared from radar screens. The crash was the second of a commercial jet in less than a week. On Sunday, a Cypriot plane went down over Greece, killing 121 passengers and crew.

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