With the entire world watching, 17 UN specialists in nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare planned to begin inspections Wednesday of sites that may be involved in the development or storage of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Despite Iraq's complaint that the inspections and the UN resolution behind them were a likely pretext for attack by the US, Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the leaders of Security Council members Britain and France demanded full cooperation "without reservations."

Security forces in disputed Kashmir shot two suspected Muslim militants to death, ending their takeover of a Hindu temple in the state's winter capital, Jammu. Thirteen people were killed in the incident, nine of them worshippers; 52 others were wounded. Lashkar-e-Taiba, a banned separatist group based in rival Pakistan, claimed responsibility and vowed further attacks, Indian police said. Pakistan's government condemned the incident as a terrorist act.

The hard-line president of formerly Soviet Turkmenistan escaped harm in an assassination attempt en route to his office from home, reports said. But gunfire from an unidentified attacker critically wounded one of Saparmurat Niyazov's bodyguards. Niyazov, known for the cult of personality he has constructed around himself, blamed two opposition leaders for organizing the attack.

A former Army colonel won Ecuador's presidential runoff election and promptly sought to reassure doubters that he does not see himself as part of the leftist trend in other South American countries. Lucio Gutierrez, who took 54.3 percent of the vote Sunday to 45.7 percent for banana tycoon Alvaro Naboa, will be the sixth president in six years. Leftist antiglobalists already hold power in Venezuela and Brazil, and analysts say Argentina likely will elect one as well early next year.

Battered by a landslide defeat for his ultrarightist Freedom Party, controversial Austrian populist Jörg Haider said he had soured on politics and will quit as a provincial governor. The anti-immigration party, which won a spot in Austria's coalition government two years ago, finished far behind the People's Party of Chancelor Wolfgang Schüssel in voting Sunday for a new parliament. Skeptics noted that Haider has announced four previous retirements from politics.

By a margin of 3,422 - the narrowest in their history - Swiss voters rejected a referendum that would have imposed the industrialized world's toughest rules on political asylum. It was sponsored by the anti-immigration People's Party. Opponents argued that passage would have undercut the Swiss reputation for humanitarianism, but analysts said the close vote ensures that the issue will resurface in the next national election.

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