US commanding Gen. Tommy Franks made his first visit to Iraq since fighting began there, as infantry and marine units penetrated Baghdad - some of them on foot. But although the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime appeared near, US military briefers said there was evidence that it still had "some capability." Below, on a bridge approaching Baghdad a marine searches an Iraqi whose bare feet suggest he made a quick change from military uniform to civilian clothes.

In related developments:

• Using some of his most graphic rhetoric to date, Iraqi Information Minister Mohamad Saeed al-Sahaf insisted that US forces visible only a few hundred yards away were "committing suicide by the hundreds" at the gates of Baghdad. He said Iraqi defenders had made American troops "drink poison" in teaching "a lesson history will never forget."

• UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed a Pakistani as his special adviser for Iraq and said the organization's "important role" in rebuilding the country would bring "legitimacy, which is necessary" to the war.

UN investigators went to the site in Congo where residents were claiming to have witnessed the worst atrocity in 4-1/2 years of civil war. Early reports said about 20 mass graves were found at the remote town of Drodo, near Congo's border with Uganda, along with dozens of wounded survivors. The reports said 966 ethnic Hema tribe members died in a three-hour dawn raid by rival Lendu tribesmen using guns and machetes. A Hema militia was vowing reprisals, but there was no word of new violence as the Monitor went to press.

Despite behind-schedule voter-registration efforts, about half of Nigeria's more than 120 million people are eligible to go to the polls for the crucial April 19 presidential election, officials said. The election pits incumbent Olusegun Obasanjo against another former dictator, Muhammadu Buhari, and other candidates whose prospects are considered poor. The vote comes amid the worst cycle of political, ethnic, and religious violence there in more than three decades.

An administrator in the Education Ministry won one of 29 City Council seats in Qatar's capital, Doha, making her the first woman known to hold elective office in the Persian Gulf region. Sheikha Yousef al-Jiffri was one of three females seeking election to the council, but the others withdrew late in the race, officials said. The council has little power other than in an advisory role, but it is seen as a potential forerunner of a national parliament.

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