World

Iraqi authorities are to assume control Monday of southern Karbala Province, although it has been the scene of recent clashes between rival Shiite militias. A US military spokesman called the violence "a struggle for power and influence" but not of a magnitude to cause concern. Karbala will be the eighth of 18 provinces to revert to Iraqi control.

Residents streamed out of Pakistan's Swat Valley Sunday to try to avoid a showdown between government troops and militants loyal to a pro-Taliban Muslim cleric. Fighting between the two sides began late last week, and casualties reportedly have been heavy. The cleric, Maulana Fazlullah said he'd leave the area, but it was not known whether he has done so. Above, a resident displays a notice dropped from military helicopter urging his help in "eliminating extremism" from the valley.

Engaging Taliban militants in a rare large-scale pitched battle in southern Afghanistan, coalition forces said Sunday they killed "about 80" of the enemy. The six-hour battle took place near Musa Qala in Helmand Province, the most important town held by the Taliban. Analysts say the US-led coalition couldtake the town any time it chooses to, but has been holding off until an Afghan civilian administration and police are ready to assume control.

Drivers of the fuel trucks that supply the Gaza Strip complained that they were turned away from Israeli depots Sunday as the Jewish state began reducing shipments in retaliation for Palestinian rocket attacks. Israel's government has declared Gaza a "hostile entity" and accuses Hamas, which controls it, of doing little to stop the rockets, even though many of them are fired by smaller rival militant groups.

Riot police patrolled Rangoon, Burma's former capital, over the weekend, apparently to head off any new antigovernment protests on the one-month anniversary ofthe crackdown by the ruling junta. The military government is under international pressure for at least a goodwill gesture toward the dissidents, and a spokesman for the opposition National League for Democracy said 50 of its members had been released from jail. But at least 250 others remain in custody, he said, and a state-owned newspaper Sunday accused the US of inciting the demonstrations, calling it "the loudmouthed bully."

Angry residents of Somalia's capital burned tires (some of them below) in the streets Sunday and demanded the departure of Ethiopian Army troops assigned to defend the fragile interim government. The protests came amid the heaviest fighting in Mogadishu in months between government forces and Islamist militants. At least 15 people were reported killed, some of them civilian noncombatants caught in the crossfire, and dozens more were wounded.

Tens of thousands of India's poorest people arrived in New Delhi Sunday, demanding compensation in the form of land and water for being left behind by the booming economy. A peaceful protest was to follow, capping a 180-mile march on the capital that began Oct. 2., and organizers hoped to meet Monday with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has promised a commission to investigate land reform. Many of the protesters were forced from their land under a government program to set up special economic zones in which investors are given tax breaks to build factories.

Although thousands of women cast ballots, not one female candidate was elected to Oman's Consultative Council, the government said Sunday. The outcome was seen as a setback for advocates of expanding political participation in the conservative oil-rich sultanate. A record 21 women were on the ballot for the council, which has only an advisory role. The outgoing council had two female members.

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