At least seven people died and more than 80 others were hurt in a bomb explosion at Jerusalem's Hebrew University – the 74th such attack by Palestinians since the current intifada began almost two years ago. The radical group Hamas claimed responsibility in revenge for Israel's airstrike in Gaza City last week that killed its commander and 14 other people. Within hours, in the first response to the blast, Israeli police rounded up more than 50 Palestinians in the vicinity of the school for questioning.

"We will block terrorists' access to our financial systems," members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations pledged in a broad-based agreement aimed at cooperating in the global war on extremists. The accord, reached at the group's annual conference in Brunei, brings it into line with the US, the European Union, China, and other "security partners." It calls for a coordinated campaign to freeze the assets of terrorist movements, to block money-laundering, and for individual efforts to find sources of funds for extremists out of a growing concern that the region is perceived as a terrorist breeding-ground.

In new moves that deepened the anger of Iran's young people, all shops and cafes in the capital, Tehran, were ordered to close each day at midnight. And in the holy city of Qom, authorities shut nine private music schools for failure to "respect Islamic religious values." A police spokesman said the orders were issued for security reasons and were aimed at "improving social discipline." Tehran is widely considered a "night owl" city, and – especially in summer – many establishments have stayed open until 3 a.m.

The authenticity of a five-page letter apparently from Greece's November 17 leftist guerrilla movement was being checked by police. The communique, which would be the first from the group since its suspected chief and 10 followers were arrested in late June, threatens the taking of hostages to swap for them as they await trial. The situation is of special concern since Athens will be the host of the 2004 Olympic Games, which the group vows to target.

The first election for president since the 1994 genocide of Tutsis will be held early next year in Rwanda, incumbent Paul Kagame announced. He said it would be preceded by an election for a new parliament. Without offering details, he pledged that Tutsis would be protected if majority Hutus won.

Thousands of illegal aliens jammed ferry terminals in Malaysia to seek transportation home before a midnight Wed-nesday deadline to leave or be whipped and jailed in a government crackdown. The immigrants, mostly Indonesians and Filipinos, worked on plantations or construction crews, in factories, or as domestic maids. But they are blamed for rising crime rates and other growing social problems.

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