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Angry Iraqis in as well as outside government accused another private security service of "martyring" two women in a shooting incident. Guards escorting a convoy of US Agency for International Development vehicles fired on a taxi operated by the women Tuesday after they ignored repeated warnings to stop, said the Unity Resources Group. The company, based in Dubai but Australian-owned, said it deeply regretted the incident. The private security firm Blackwater USA is still being investigated for the shooting deaths of 17 Iraqi civilians last month.

Twenty suspected Kurdish separatist rebels were arrested by border police Wednesday as they tried to cross from Iraq into Turkey. Authorities released no further information, but the arrests came as Turkish forces stepped up the shelling of Kurdish encampments in Iraq. An invasion by ground troops appeared unlikely until at least next week, however, observers said.

Tribal elders escorted a German engineer and four Afghan colleagues to freedom Wednesday in a trade for jailed Taliban militants. Rudolf Blechschmidt and his companions had been held hostage since their kidnapping by the Taliban July 18. In the interim, he appeared in videotapes pleading for a deal that would free him because of his ill health. A second German engineer seized with him was later found shot to death later.

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In a new confrontation with China, Taiwan's president declared there will be "eternal peace in the world" only when the mainland awakens to democracy. At the first National Day military parade in 16 years, Chen Shui-bian also said it is "a historical fact as well as a reality" that Taiwan and China "are two separate states that don't belong to each other." Analysts suggested that the parade (above) was authorized to stir the patriotism of voters since Chen's term ends next May and his Democratic Progressive Party faces the prospects of tight parliamentary and presidential elections.

For the sake of dialogue with Burma's military rulers, the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) said Wednesday it was prepared to make "adjustments" in its two-decade-long confrontation over political reform. But at least seven more dissidents reportedly were arrested in new police raids on the homes of suspected participants in the recent antigovernment protests. And a Burmese exile group known for the accuracy of its claims said the family of one detainee was notified that he'd died "under interrogation." Above, an NLD member sews new party flags.

Militants in Nigeria's oil region freed two foreign nationals who'd been kidnapped as they worked in a construction yard Sept. 27. Reports said the hostages, a Filipino and a Colombian, were "in good form" and that their release late Tuesday followed the threat of a military attack on the site where they were being held. Such an operation Oct. 5 freed a British oil company manager who had been taken hostage two months earlier.

Long lines of motorists waited to buy gasoline in the central Venezuelan city of Barquisimento Wednesday after an "interruption" of crude to a nearby refinery, reports said.PDVSA, the state-owned oil company, offered no immediate comment, although itsexecutives have guaranteed the gasoline supply. The matter is considered politically sensitive because Venezuela is a member of the OPEC cartel and President Hugo Chávez has used gifts of his nation's oil to court fellow leftist leaders in the region.

On his birthday, Gerhard Ertl of Germany was announced as the recipient of the 2007 Nobel Prize in chemistry Wednesday. He was honored for his studies of oxidation and other chemical reactions on solid surfaces, which have industrial applications ranging from artificial fertilizers to catalytic converters that process automotive exhaust.

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