The murder of an Israeli who'd loaned money to open a Palestinian cafe in the West Bank overshadowed the withdrawal by tanks and troops from the town of Beit Jala. Even Palestinians wept at the execution-style slaying by masked gunmen in the town of Naleen as the Israeli settler sat at breakfast. The incident came on the heels of the pre-dawn pullout from Beit Jala, which Israel called "tactical" but Palestinians celebrated as a humiliation for the Jewish state's army. (Related stories, pages 1, 6.)

More than the anticipated one-third of the weapons used by ethnic-Albanian insurgents in Macedonia already have been surrendered, putting NATO's collection mission ahead of schedule, its commander said. Danish Maj. Gen. Gunnar Lange told journalists he hoped his report "will contribute to the parliament process," a reference to the expected opening today by Macedonia's legislators of debate on ratifying a deal to give Albanians increased rights and power in the Slav-dominated republic.

Acting alternately bored and combative, ex-Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic made his second appearance before the UN war-crimes tribunal in The Hague. He repeated refusals to recognize the court's legitimacy and complaints about his prison conditions. But presiding Judge Richard May cut short Milosevic's attempts to advance political arguments and said a trial date would be set early next year. Meanwhile, the tribunal's chief prosecutor said she'll indict Milosevic Oct. 1 for genocide during the Bosnian civil war of the early 1990s in addition to the alleged suppression of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo two years ago. Above, guards escort Milosevic into the courtroom.

In scathing terms, the Tamil Tiger rebel movement in Sri Lanka rejected a day-old offer by President Chandrika Kumaratunga's government of a mutual cease-fire. A spokesman said the rebels would not negotiate with "a corrupt, inefficient, unstable government ... on the verge of collapse." His remarks followed a new bomb explosion blamed on the rebels that killed two policemen and a bystander. Earlier this month, the rebels said they'd keep the door open to peace negotiations but demanded that their organization be legalized first.

Before it even opened, the UN's World Conference Against Racism was mired in acrimonious disputes Thursday over Zionism and demands by black groups for reparations for slavery. A mid-level US representative, sent to Durban, South Africa, in place of Secretary of State Powell, would work to soften language hostile to Israel in resolutions to be voted on during the eight-day meeting, a Bush administration official said. (Story, page 7.)

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