The first week of the war in Iraq ended with attention shifting to the north of the country, where US paratroopers opened a new front, seizing an important airfield. Reuters reported Kurdish fighters crossing into government-controlled territory for the first time and meeting no early resistance. Meanwhile, the start of food deliveries by ship ran into another day's delay with the discovery of still more mines in the channel leading to the port of Umm Qasr.

In related developments:

• Nothing that Iraqi forces have done so far - or that coalition troops have found - is evidence of the use of banned weapons of mass destruction, UN inspections chief Hans Blix said. US and British units both have found protective suits, respirators, and antidotes that would be used in a chemical attack.

• Iraq blasted a decision by the UN Human Rights Commission not to hold hearings into "the humanitarian situation as a consequence of the war." Iraq claims US cluster bombs are targeting civilian areas, killing at least 36 people so far and wounding 215 others.

• European Union officials demanded that the UN lead rebuilding efforts in Iraq after the war, and a senior American envoy - on a fence-mending mission - defended the awarding of reconstruction contracts to mainly US companies. Alan Larson called US-EU ties "a high-maintenance relationship."

Military helicopters, Coast Guard units, and riot police were enforcing a security perimeter around the launch site for Japan's first two spy satellites. Weather permitting, a rocket is to carry the satellites into orbit this morning. The satellite program is a response to North Korea's test of a ballistic missile that flew over Japan four years ago. The Pyongyang government called today's launch "a grave threat" and threatened to retaliate with another missile test.

A bomb made from chemicals and a hand grenade was discovered in an X-ray check of mail bags about to be loaded aboard a commercial jet bound from Manila to Osaka, Japan. Philippines authorities said it was rigged to explode once the Thai Airways plane reached "a certain altitude." There were no immediate clues to who hid the bomb. But the country has been the scene of angry protests against the war in Iraq, and security officials have been on alert for Muslim rebel reprisals.

Amid tight security precautions, the trial opened in the Netherlands of the animal rights campaigner accused of murdering populist political leader Pim Fortuyn last May. Volkert van der Graaf already has confessed to the crime, telling authorities he viewed the prime ministerial candidate as a danger to society. Under Dutch law, he could be sentenced to a maximum of 20 years in prison if convicted.

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