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Another delay in the verdict on Saddam Hussein's first trial for crimes against humanity in Iraq was forecast by the chief prosecutor. Jaafar al-Moussawi said the judges of the Iraqi High Tribunal need additional time to complete "checks" in what is expected to be a lengthy judgment that will stand up to appeals and the scrutiny of international legal experts. That could push the verdict back by up to two weeks, Moussawi said. The verdict had been scheduled to be read next Sunday. Hussein's chief lawyer has warned that a death sentence will "inflame a civil war in Iraq and send fire throughout the region."

NATO forces repulsed an attack by as many as 150 Taliban guerrillas in southern Afghanistan over the weekend, killing almost half of them, a spokesman said. The battle took place a day after NATO commanders apologized for the deaths of civilians in fighting earlier in the week that President Hamid Karzai said had "hurt and saddened" him. But the commanders said Tali-ban guerrillas had used the civilians as human shields and that his troops had found it hard to differentiate between them. Meanwhile, fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Omar rejected a new offer by Karzai of peace negotiations.

Monday's round of peace talks between the transitional government of Somalia and the militant Islamic Courts Union (UIC) appears in doubt after the latter said its participation was at an end unless neighboring Ethiopia first withdraws its troops from Somali territory. The two sides met twice over the weekend and were next to discuss a power-sharing arrangement to stave off possible civil war. UN sources estimate that as many as 8,000 Ethiopians are supporting the interim government and that the UIC is receiving backing from "2,000 fully equipped" troops from rival Eritrea. Ethiopia's government admits to only a few hundred trainers and advisers. Eritrea denied Saturday having any soldiers inside Somalia.

The Nov. 24 deadline for voting on a power-sharing government in Northern Ireland is not likely to be met, a senior Protestant leader warned over the weekend. The joint British-Irish peace plan for the province gives Protestants and Catholics until then to choose their representatives to head the self-rule administration. But Sinn Fein, the Catholic party allied with the Irish Republican Army, has said it will not meet to drop its longstanding opposition to a Northern Ireland police force dominated by Protestants until after Nov. 24. That move is a requirement of the peace plan, and without it, the Protestant leader said, his side will not elect its representative. If the deadline is not met, Northern Ireland's assembly would be shut down under the peace plan.

Turnout was alarmingly low across Serbia for the referendum on a new constitution that declares the Albanian-dominated province of Kosovo an integral part of the republic. Rules require that more than half of the 6.6 million registered voters cast "yes" ballots for the charter to be approved. But fewer than 18 percent of the electorate went to the polls Saturday, and by midday on Sunday the turnout had risen to only 26.1 percent. At that pace, voting would have to double by the time polls closed, officials said. Ethnic Albanians resent the measure and traditionally have boycotted any election held under Serb auspices.

Police reinforcements were rushed to Marseilles, France, where a "zero tolerance" policy was announced after vandals stopped and set fire to a city bus Saturday night. The attackers, estimated to be as young as 15, didn't allow passengers to leave before igniting the blaze, and one of them was hospitalized in critical condition. A bus also was destroyed by fire Saturday in Paris's suburbs, in the sixth such incident there in a week. The violence coincides with the anniversary of three weeks of rioting by immigrant youths that shook France last year.

A domestic airliner carrying more than 100 people crashed on takeoff from Nigeria's capital Sunday, with early reports suggesting that no more than six survived. Although the weather was poor at the time, an immediate investigation was ordered by President Olusegun Oba-sanjo. Among those aboard was the spiritual leader of Nigeria's Muslims.

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