Afghan President Hamid Karzai survived an assassination attempt by a security guard as he visited the city of Kandahar. But the provincial governor was wounded in the attack. US troops in Karzai's motorcade returned fire, killing the guard, who wore an Afghan military uniform, and two others. The incident came within hours of a car-bomb explosion in Kabul, the capital, in which at least 15 people were reported dead. It wasn't clear whether the incidents were related. On Tuesday, Afghan dissident and ex-Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar called for a holy war aimed at ridding the country of foreign troops.

In the worst day of violence in weeks, Israeli troops came under attack from Palestinians in two areas of the Gaza Strip and police detonated a powerful truck bomb intercepted near Tel Aviv before it could be set off on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Authorities had warned for weeks that an attack against a high-rise building or a fuel depot might be imminent. The Gaza attacks, via a sniper and a bomb that exploded under a tank, killed at least two soldiers and wounded four others, reports said.

"The gates of hell in the Middle East" will be opened if the US attacks Iraq, regional leaders predicted as Arab League foreign ministers ended a two-day meeting in Cairo. Their warning came as President Bush prepared to confer with British Prime Minister Blair tomorrow on whether to seek a new UN resolution that would condemn the Baghdad regime.

The alleged main assassin of the Greek terrorist group November 17 surrendered to police, apparently to protect those who had been hiding him, a government spokesman said. Dimitris Koufodinas, under indictment for at least 17 murders, had been on the run since late June, when a serious injury to a colleague yielded clues that allowed authorities to begin a roundup of group members.

Without offering details, the Foreign Ministry of China announced a deal with German diplomats on the fate of 15 asylum-seekers who gained entry to the latter's compound in Beijing Tuesday. It was believed likely that the 15, all North Koreans, would be allowed safe passage to South Korea via a third country. Since March, 80 North Koreans have followed that route. Twenty-one more are in South Korea's consulate in Beijing, awaiting the go-ahead. The trend is an embarrassment for both North Korea and for China, its closest ally.

Outgoing flights were suspended and residents of Moscow were urged not to panic as smoke from burning forests and peat bogs sent carbon monoxide levels in the city to more than twice the maximum admissible concentration. Western Russia has had its lowest rainfall in 100 years this summer; meanwhile, at least 200 fires are smoldering.

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