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Troops from Turkey killed 77 more Kurdish rebels in fighting Tuesday night in northern Iraq, their commander claimed, and the Foreign Ministry said "there is no timetable" for withdrawal "until these terrorist bases are eliminated." But US Defense Secretary Gates was en route to the Turkish capital Wednesday, where he was expected to tell the government that it must be mindful of Iraqi sovereignty and pull back its forces in a matter of days, "not months."

In a new setback for national reconciliation efforts, Iraq's three-man presidential council sent back to parliament a measure that would have organized provincial elections. Sections of it "contradict the Constitution," a spokesman said. The bill, which is considered critical, was bundled with two other unrelated measures to win passage on the final day of the legislative session, and even then succeeded by only one vote.

At Kofi Annan's request, the party of Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga put off "until further notice" a planned mass demonstration Thursday so the former UN secretary-general could make a final push for a power-sharing accord with the government. Annan was to meet separately with Odinga and President Mwai Kibaki, and African Union chief Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania arrived in Nairobi to add weight to the mediation efforts.

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Tens of thousands of people gathered in Sudan's capital to hear President Omar al-Bashir call for a worldwide boycott of all things Danish as Muslim anger grew over last week's reprinting of cartoons of the prophet Muhammad. In Germany, however, the Interior Ministry said all European newspapers should reprint the cartoons in solidarity. And in the Netherlands, an anti-Koran film that also has outraged Muslims will be finished this week, its producer said.

Police in Zimbabwe warned Wednesday that they'll shoot to kill if there are "Kenya-style riots" following next month's presidential election. Commissioner Augustine Chihuri said "it is time for political parties to own up if they lose." Hard-line President Robert Mugabe is being challenged by two opponents in the March 29 vote.

In another heavy blow to Microsoft, the European Union fined the company a record $1.35 billion Wednesday for charging "unreasonable" prices for technical information sold to rivals. In 2004, the EU fined the software giant $613 million for violating competition rules on the Continent and gave it 120 days to share some of its secrets with competitors. Last September, the company lost an appeal of that order. The EU said Microsoft had dragged its feet in complying with the order, adding, "flouting the rules is expensive."

Luxury automaker BWM said Wednesday it will lay off 5,600 more employees by year's end, on top of 2,500 jobs already eliminated. The announcement was the second of its type in two days by a major German company. On Tuesday, electronics giant Siemens said it will cut 3,800 people from its payroll and transfer 1,200 others to plants outside Germany. Above, a BMW employee in Leipzig polishes the hood of a car just off the assembly line.

"A very large earthquake in UK terms" shook England and parts of Wales and Northern Ireland Wednesday, causing property damage and at least one serious injury. The quake, which seismologists said had a magnitude of 5.3, was centered 125 miles north of London and was the strongest in Britain in 24 years. Above, a Barnsley, England, resident inspects damage to his house.

A fictionalized tribute to Charles Dickens – but set in the South Pacific – was among the finalists announced for the 12th annual Kiriyama Prize, which is awarded for books that promote greater understanding of the Pacific Rim and South Asia. Winners in the competition, which also is open to works of nonfiction, will be announced April 1, officials said.

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