Hamas warned it would try to assassinate Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon after his forces arrested most-wanted Palestinian militant Marwan Barghuti. Barghuti will be tried for murder, Sharon said. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Powell was to meet Yasser Arafat today amid expectations that he'll return home with "something less" than a formal cease-fire between Israel and the Palestinians. (Related stories, pages 1, 7, 10.)

With no further "reasons for any delay," exiled former Afghan King Mohamad Zahir was waiting to be escorted home today by interim government leader Hamid Karzai. In Rome, where the ex-monarch has lived since being overthrown in 1973, aides said he'd agree to lead the battered nation if asked to do so by the traditional council, or loya jirga, that he is to convene for the purpose of choosing a successor to Karzai's administration. His scheduled return last month was postponed amid reports of a plot to shoot down his plane.

Millions of workers turned out in support of the first general strike in Italy in 20 years, bringing much of the nation to a crawl. It was a protest against Prime Minster Silvio Berlusconi's planned labor-law reforms, which unions claim would make firing unproductive employees easier. Employers see the laws as overprotective of workers at the expense of competitiveness. Above, a union leader addresses tens of thousands of strikers in Florence.

As expected, leading independence campaigner Jose (Xanana) Gusmao coasted to victory in East Timor's first presidential election. Running as an independent, Gusmao had 79.4 percent of the vote, to 17 percent for rival Francisco Xavier do Amaral, who said he was offering his candidacy only to ensure that the election was democratic. East Timor will become fully independent May 20, when the UN formally yields its temporary administration.

With less than a month to go before a scheduled national election, the government of Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok resigned. It had been teetering on the brink of collapse for a week over a harshly critical official report blaming Dutch peacekeeping troops for failing to protect Muslims from vengeful Serb forces at Srebrenica in 1995 near the end of the Bosnian civil war. At least 7,500 men and boys were executed in what the UN had declared a safe zone. The report said the Dutch troops had neither an adequate mandate nor the proper weapons for their mission.

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