World

Defiant North Korean leaders said Monday they'd "steadily increase" their military might as the ramifications of the new UN sanctions became apparent. In neighboring China, construction was nearing completion on a massive fence to keep out defectors from the North who are expected to increase as the sanctions take effect. Customs authorities also began inspecting trucks hauling cargo from North Korea. Australia barred access to its seaports for North Korean ships. Japan's government said it would consider still more sanctions on top of those it already is imposing on the North.

Saddam Hussein released an open letter to Iraqis, urging Sunnis and Shiites to set aside sectarian divisions and unite to drive US forces from their soil. "The hour of liberation is at hand," he wrote. But the court trying him and seven codefendants for crimes against humanity said the verdicts will be issued Nov. 5. Sentences for those found guilty will be announced at the same time, it said.

A truck packed with explosives and driven by Tamil separatist rebels rammed a bus convoy of Sri Lankan Navy personnel Monday, killing at least 92 and wounding more than 150, military spokesmen said. They said the victims were unarmed and were headed home on leave. The losses came on top of the heavy casualties incurred by the military in fighting last week. It was not immediately clear what effect the latest attack would have on the resumption of peace negotiations set for Oct. 28. But a furious President Mahinda Raja-pakse called it "further proof of the [rebels'] unmitigated commitment to violence."

The leading Catholic politician in Northern Ireland clouded new hopes for resuming self-rule government Monday, saying his party is not yet prepared to accept a Protestant-dominated police force. Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein declined to say how soon party elders would even discuss changing their position toward the force, one of two essential features of the peace plan put forward late last week by the prime ministers of Britain and the Irish republic. Sinn Fein and the Protestant Democratic Unionist Party have until Nov. 10 to respond to the proposals. Leaders of Ulster's two largest Protestant and Catholic parties are scheduled to meet Tuesday for discussions on sharing power.

Voters apparently gave none of the candidates in Ecuador's presidential election an outright victory, setting up a Nov. 26 runoff between the top two finishers, returns showed Monday. With ballot-counting about three-quarters complete, pro-US banana magnate Alvaro Naboa was leading leftist Rafael Correa by a 27 percent to 22 percent margin. Noboa needed almost 80 percent of the uncounted ballots for a first-round victory. Correa claimed his share of the vote was "at least 10 percent higher" than announced. Eleven rivals were far off the pace.

Having seized control of Bolivia's oil and gas industry in May, leftist President Evo Morales announced Sunday that the nationalization of its mining sector "is the next urgent step we must take." It is scheduled to begin Oct. 31. Earlier this month, independent tin miners and those employed by the state fought over the former's claim that they have the right to work at a state-owned pit. Sixteen people died before police restored order. After natural gas, Bolivia's tin, zinc, silver, and gold are its No. 2 export.

A husband and wife bicycling to work at a rubber plantation in southern Thailand were two of seven people shot dead by suspected Muslim separatist rebels, police said Monday. The latest casualties bring the number of dead in Muslim-majority provinces to more than 1,700 since the separatists began a campaign of violence in January 2004. Much of the unrest was blamed on the policies of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shina-watra. The nation's new military leaders offered peace talks to the rebels, but with no apparent impact on the cycle of violence.

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