As Afghanistan's Taliban regime sought to shore up its defenses against an apparently inevitable US attack, it was warned in blunt terms by British Prime Minister Tony Blair: "Surrender the terrorists or surrender power." Blair said his country would help the US in a proportionate military offensive to capture Osama bin Laden and others in the Al Qaeda organization, making every effort to avoid civilian casualties. But contrary to suggestions by aides, in his address to the annual convention of the ruling Labour Party, the prime minister (above) did not declare that time had run out for the Taliban to avoid attack. (Related stories, pages 1, 2.)

In related developments:

• NATO officials said information offered by the US showed "clear and compelling" evidence that the Sept. 11 attacks were linked to bin Laden, but Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said it had yet to see proof.

• From the UN's point of view, existing Security Council resolutions give the US all the rights it needs for retaliation, Secretary-General Kofi Annan told ABC-TV.

• Tens of thousands of Pakistanis defied a government ban and staged perhaps the largest show of support yet for Afghanistan's Taliban regime.

An angry caretaker Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina claimed that Bangladesh's national election had been "rigged" and said "I will follow" supporters in refusing to accept the results. She spoke as the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led coalition of rival Khaleda Zia surged to a 183-to-34-seat lead in parliament, with 117 still to be determined. Analysts had predicted a far closer outcome, but international monitors under the UN's Electoral Assistance Secretariat said the voting was "generally free and fair."

Four justices newly appointed to the Zimbabwe Supreme Court threw out last year's ruling that the government takeover of white-owned farms is unconstitutional. The order means confiscations can be confirmed at a lower-court level, giving whites 90 days to vacate their properties. Only one justice voted against the decision; the others all have been on the High Court only since March as part of a move seen as packing the bench with President Robert Mugabe's allies. The government has earmarked 4,500 white-owned farms for "redistribution" to landless blacks.

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