In a massive anti-American protest, the vacant US Embassy compound in Afghanistan's capital was assaulted by thousands of Taliban supporters, who pulled down its seal (below) and set fire to cars and an outbuilding. But reports said the Taliban was forced to send reinforcements to the front against a new offensive by the opposition Northern Alliance. And the UN upped its estimate of the number of people inside the besieged country who will need humanitarian aid this winter to 7.5 million. (Related stories, pages 1, 2; related editorial, page 12; opinion, page 13.)

The accounts of two organizations on the US's terrorism blacklist were ordered frozen by Pakistan's central bank, and the Foreign Ministry said Osama bin Laden would find no "safe haven" there if he tried to flee Afghanistan. Pakistani and visiting US defense and intelligence officials also agreed on a broad plan for attacks on terrorist camps in Afghanistan. But in Karachi, attackers shot into a rally of supporters of the government's pledge to help the US, wounding 12 people.

Confusion clouded the role Iran might play in the US anti-terrorism effort, despite the Tehran government's early signals that it would not object to American retaliation. Russia's foreign minister, calling Iran a "partner over the issue of Afghanistan," said it could join the US-led coalition. But Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, condemned the US as "disgusting" and said his country would provide no help for an attack on "suffering Afghanistan."

A series of confidence-building measures was agreed to by Yasser Arafat and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres in their long-awaited meeting to lay the groundwork for a lasting truce. But Palestinian militants quickly rejected the achievement, vowing further "martyrdom operations," and clashes only a few miles from the meeting site in the Gaza Strip killed one Palestinian and injured more than a dozen others, plus three Israeli soldiers. Arafat and Peres agreed to meet again "in a week or so." (Story, page 4.)

Seven tough new laws aimed at keeping so-called "boat people" out of Australia's island territories sailed through Parliament. The measures won bipartisan support despite harsh international criticism of the government for turning away hundreds of would-be asylum- seekers from the Middle East and Afghanistan. Anti-immigration sentiment has become a major issue in Australia with the arrival of more than 9,000 "illegals" in the past two years.

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