World

Al Qaeda in Iraq posted an Internet video Thursday showing the executions of nine kidnapped police officers after the deadline expired for meeting terms for their release, reports said. The authenticity of the video could not immediately be verified. But it emerged from a flurry of developments in Iraq, among them majority backing in parliament for new legislation that would require a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops. The bill was drafted by legislators loyal to radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Such legislation has been offered before, but this was the first time it achieved majority support.

Armed with his ruling party's nomination for a new seven-year term, Syrian President Bashar Assad said Thursday the government won't recognize a UN court set up to try suspects in the 2005 assassination of ex-Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Any Syrian found to have been involved in the case will be tried by Syrian courts, Assad said, adding: "Any cooperation requested from Syria that compromises national sovereignty is totally rejected."

Final obstacles to a train trip across the heavily guarded Korean border were being negotiated Thursday, bringing the historic test run to within a week of taking place. The first trains to cross the boundary in more than half a century are scheduled for May 17. North Korea's armed forces agreed Wednesday to provide security for one test run that would represent a milestone in detente on the divided peninsula. A test scheduled for last year was cancelled at the last minute because of objections raised by the North's military leadership.

Parliament in Turkey cut off voting for president Thursday after two fruitless rounds and was deciding whether to open the process to the public. Such a move probably would result in a July 22 election, as called for by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. But outgoing President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, who holds veto power over legislation, has argued that Turkey isn't ready for a popular vote because political tensions are too high. Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, the only candidate for the presidency, withdrew last week after the legislature failed to elect him because of a boycott by opposition members.

Three dissidents were sentenced to prison terms in Vietnam's capital for forming a political party, "spreading propaganda against the state," and other activities "aimed at ending the leadership of the Communist Party." The men, a physician and two businessmen, could have been ordered to spend 20 years each behind bars but drew three- to five-year terms instead. Other activists are due in court Friday and Tuesday.

A landslide victory appeared certain for 1996 Nobel Peace Prize winner Jose Ramos-Horta in East Timor's presidential runoff election as ballot-counting neared completion Thursday. The acting prime minister had 73 percent of the vote in the race against the leader of the largest political party, Francisco Guterres, officials said. Guterres was expected to concede defeat in a news conference Friday.

Ten soldiers died and 20 others were hurt when a hidden bomb exploded as they were on patrol in southwestern Colombia Thursday. Suspicion fell immediately on the Revolutionary Armed Forces, the nation's largest leftist rebel movement, for the attack, the worst against government forces this year and the second in two days. Nine soldiers were killed in a similar ambush Wednesday in northern Santander Province.

Muslim separatists in southern Thailand were back on the attack Thursday, exploding a roadside bomb that wounded at least two soldiers as they escorted Buddhist monks collecting alms. On Wednesday, seven soldiers were killed and their weapons and radios were confiscated after a similar ambush, the worst assault against a government target in the region this year.

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