World

Saddam Hussein and six other defendants are due to return to court in Baghdad Monday for a new trial on charges of genocide and other war crimes. The charges center on Operation Anfal, which killed an estimated 100,000 Kurds who lived along the sensitive border with Iran in 1987 and 1988. The verdict against Hussein and his codefendants in their first trial – involving a campaign of retribution for a 1982 assassination attempt in the city of Dujail – is expected when it reconvenes Oct. 16. Meanwhile, terrorist snipers fired on a Shiite religious procession of hundreds of thousands of people in Baghdad Sunday, killing at least 17 participants and wounding 253 others.

Taliban remnants took heavy new losses over the weekend in southern Afghanistan in some of the heaviest fighting to date with NATO-led coalition forces. Reports from Kandahar Province said 72 Taliban died versus five coalition soldiers. A Taliban spokesman acknowledged the fighting but said his side had lost only 12 men and that eight others had been wounded. Most of the violence came on Saturday as Afghans observed the anniversary of independence from British rule.

In a snub to the UN-backed transitional government of Somalia, the increasingly powerful Union of Islamic Courts said Sunday it is organizing a "reconciliation conference" to set a new course for the nation. Its spokesman said the conference, for which no date was announced, will be held because the interim administration of President Abdullah Yusuf "is a waste of time and resources." Aides to Yusuf called the plan "unwarranted" and "a recipe for more political confusion." Meanwhile, witnesses reported an unspecified number of troops from neighboring Ethiopia had crossed into southern Somalia and arrived at Baidoa, the government's base. It was not immediately clear whether they were reinforcements for the Ethiopians seen in Baidoa last month or were the same troops who may have withdrawn and were now returning. Ethiopia is pledged to defend Yusuf.

Police arrested one of the suspects who was caught on videotape at a Cologne, Germany, railway station in a failed attempt to bomb trains at the end of last month. He and an accomplice who's still being sought planted powerful explosives aboard two trains that – had they gone off – could have caused derailments and hundreds of casualties. A prosecutor in Berlin said the suspect, a Lebanese Arab, was taken into custody Saturday before he could flee Germany for an undetermined location. Meanwhile, reports Sunday said two men of Middle Eastern appearance were removed from a commercial jet before it could leave Malaga, Spain, for Manchester, England, after other passengers noticed suspicious behavior and refused to board the flight.

One of the foreign oil industry employees kidnaped by militants in Nigeria's southern oil delta was freed over the weekend after 10 days in captivity, and a government spokesman announced the arrests of "about 100" suspected hostage-takers in the crackdown ordered by President Olusegun Obasanjo. It was not clear whether a ransom had been paid for the release of Guido Schiffarth, a German, and the fate of his Nigerian driver was not revealed. Of the more than 40 foreigners in the oil industry who've been taken hostage since Jan. 1, at least seven remain in captivity, among them one American.

Four spies for the US have been caught by Venezuelan security police, President Hugo Chávez claimed over the weekend as he prepared for another high-profile overseas trip – this one to China and perhaps North Korea. But the political spotlight was dominated by opposition presidential candidate Manuel Rosales, who formally registered to challenge Chávez in the Dec. 3 national election and addressed a rally of thousands of supporters in Caracas, the capital. Recent opinion polls, however, show Chávez with a commanding lead so far.

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