A US Army Special Forces soldier was wounded in a firefight while his unit was engaged in a "search and destroy mission" for pockets of Al Qaeda resisters in southern Afghanistan, reports said. The injury was described as non-life-threatening. As many as 15 Al Qaeda fighters were killed in the clash in the Kandahar region, where US forces have been on the hunt for remnants of Osama bin Laden's terrorist network and their Taliban allies. (Related story, page 6.)

A car bomb killed the former head of a pro-Israeli Christian militia outside his home in Beirut, Lebanon. Three other people, two of them bodyguards, also died in the blast. There were no immediate claims of responsibility. Elie Hobeika led the Lebanese Forces militia, which killed hundreds of Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in west Beirut in 1982. An Israeli commission later found Defense Minister (now Prime Minister) Ariel Sharon indirectly responsible for the killings. Hobeika had offered to testify against Sharon in a case filed in Belgium by a group of Palestinian survivors.

More US troops were arriving in the southern Philippines for joint exercises beginning next week against Islamic insurgents. An eventual force of more than 600 will train their Filipino counterparts to fight Abu Sayyaf, a rebel group alleged to have links to Al Qaeda. Above, an immigration official escorts some of the US soldiers who landed yesterday at Zamboanga airport. (Opinion, page 11.)

Nuclear rivals India and Pakistan must begin a "sustained and determined dialogue" to resolve differences, notably over Kashmir, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on a visit to the latter's capital. His visit was aimed at easing tensions that flared in the wake of a Dec. 13 attack on India's Parliament, for which New Delhi blames Pakistan-based militants. Annan is scheduled to visit Afghanistan today before traveling to Iran.

Russia will work to develop new weapons by 2010 under a modernization plan signed by President Vladimir Putin, reports said. Among the new weapons: an upgraded jet fighter, submarine, combat helicopter, and tank. Russia's military has had trouble maintaining even existing equipment since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

Buddhist chants and Christian hymns punctuated a day of multifaith prayer for peace in Assisi, Italy, organized after the Sept. 11 attacks. Some 200 imams, patriarchs, rabbis, and other religious leaders joined Pope John Paul II for the retreat. "There is no religious goal which can possibly justify the use of violence by man against man," the pope said.

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