"Indications" of Al Qaeda operations in Kashmir were cited by US Defense Secretary Rumsfeld as he left India's capital for Pakistan to continue his regional peace mission. He gave no details, but his comments were a departure from previous US views on the possibility that the terrorist network had shifted focus to the disputed state. Rumsfeld offered US help in placing sensors in Kashmir to monitor incursions by Islamic militants. (Opinion, page 9.)

Hamid Karzai admitted he had announced prematurely that Afghanistan's loya jirga chose him as transitional president. But he was expected to face only token opposition for the post, even though the traditional council spent much of its time Wednesday squabbling over ethnic grievances and procedural matters. A Karzai aide said the interim leader had mistaken applause by the council delegates Tuesday as a vote for him. Above, a delegate submits to a metal-detector check before entering the assembly site.

Work is to begin as soon as this weekend on a massive security fence dividing the West Bank from Israel. The barrier, like those on the borders with Lebanon and Syria, is aimed at preventing the infiltration of "terrorists and explosives" into Israel. The Defense Ministry's announcement came as another Palestinian bomber killed himself and an Israeli teenager in the coastal town of Herzliya and results of a new opinion poll showed a majority of Palestinians hope for the destruction of Israel in the current intifadah. (Story, page 1.)

Military officials would not confirm a report that Abu Sayyaf Islamic rebels in the southern Philippines had seized new hostages to replace those lost last week in a firefight with government troops. Fishermen working near the city of Zambo-anga said they saw "unarmed people" amid a band of Abu Sayyaf remnants. Buoyed by news of the loss of the earlier hostages, President Gloria Arroyo said her troops no longer would be constrained in their "search and destroy" mission.

The deepest political crisis in Yugoslavia since the ouster two years ago of President Slobodan Milosevic erupted when his successor's party quit the Serbian parliament. Vojislav Kostunica's Democratic Party reacted to the dismissal of 21 of its 45 members for frequent absences. They were to be replaced by members of rival parties, giving Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic greater control over the body. Djindjic and Kostunica have been at odds since the hand-over of Milosevic to the UN war-crimes tribunal for the Balkans.

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