WORLD

Turkish security sources confirmed raids against Kurdish separatist rebels inside Iraq and said more can be expected. But a major assault would be delayed, they said, to allow time for a meeting Thursday with visiting Iraqi diplomats, amid reports that the government in Baghdad might yet agree to hand over at least some rebels. Above, outside an Istanbul recruiting station agitated Turks demand to be drafted to fight the rebels.

A pro-Taliban Muslim cleric in Pakistan's northwestern tribal region said he wasn't ruffled by the arrival of 2,500 government troops to confront him. Armed followers were vowing to protect of Maulana Fazlullah, and four of the soldiers were hurt Tuesday night when a roadside bomb exploded next to their convoy. Fazlullah's group, Tehrik Nifaz-e-Sharia Mohammed, is banned. But he reportedly uses FM radio broadcasts to call for holy war against Pakistan's leaders.

Six rebel factions from Darfur said they will not attend peace talks with the government of Sudan, arguing that it lacks legitimacy because its southern coalition partner withdrew earlier this month. The conference is due to open Saturday in Libya. Asked for comment on the rebel boycott, UN chief for humanitarian affairs John Holmes described the factions as mostly small and said, "It is possible to join later if the process starts to make progress."

A protest by thousands of Venezuelan college students against planned changes to the Constitution turned violent Tuesday, with riot police firing tear gas and supporters of President Hugo Chávez roughing up participants (one of them above, in a cap). Seven busloads of other students were blocked from joining the demonstration by National Guard troops. The changes, currently being debated by the Chávez-dominated National Assembly, would allow him to run for reelection as often as he likes and authorities to detain dissidents without charge during states of emergency.

By comfortable margins, both houses of France's parliament passed a controversial bill that would require language exams and possibly DNA testing for would-be immigrants. But the opposition Socialist Party said it would challenge the measure before the Constitutional Court, a move that delays its implementation. Proponents agreed to limit the DNA provision to an 18-month experiment affecting only certain foreign countries. But critics argue that it still "institutionalizes xenophobia." Twelve other European countries require DNA testing of would-be immigrants.

More than a year early, Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen of Denmark called a national election that could give his government a third consecutive term. He said he wants a strong mandate to improve social services, particularly healthcare. His liberal-conservative coalition, riding high in opinion polls, is due for a confrontation in December with public employee unions seeking hefty pay hikes for their members.

Political opponents in Kazakh-stan protested that access to their websites was cut by the government Tuesday night, although only about 20 percent of the population browses the Internet. Operators said the move probably was due to their disclosure of sensitive phone conversations in which senior officials in President Nursultan Nazarbayev's government disparaged his exiled former son-in-law. Traditional news outlets did not cover the story. Most Internet-savvy Kazakhs are young people who are believed to sympathize with the opposition.

Fifty-four gold miners who were working when fire and smoke trapped them underground in Western Australia have been rescued unharmed, reports said Wednesday.A spokeswoman for Barrick Gold Corp., the world's largest producer, said the miners were ordered to safety chambers once word of the fire was received.

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