Loudspeakers in a southern town in Iraq blared an ultimatum from British forces: hand over within 48 hours those who killed six fellow soldiers Tuesday. Reports did not say what the consequences would be if the attackers remained free. The violence prompted a review of security procedures in that sector of Iraq, and Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon suggested in an interview on the BBC that "many thousands" of reinforcements could be deployed there with orders to wear helmets and body armor. Below ( l.), curious Iraqis gather to look at a British Army vehicle that was destroyed in Tuesday's violence. (Related story, page 6.)

Hamas was unwilling to confirm a report that it and two other Palestinian radical movements had agreed to a three-month moratorium on terrorist attacks against Israelis. But other Palestinian sources said such a statement had been signed by Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders in Syria, with details to be announced later Wednesday. In return, the groups, also including Fatah, demand that Israel end targeted killings of militants, stop incursions into Palestinian areas, and release Palestinians in its jails, the sources said. Senior Israelis said the move was of no consequence, and Israeli helicopters reportedly rocketed two cars in the Gaza Strip, one of them belonging to a Hamas activist.

The ban on public protests for democratic reform in Iran will be defied, leaders of recent demonstrations vowed. The hard-line Islamic clerical regime Monday forbade rallies in the streets as the anniversary approaches of the July 9, 1999, beatings of reform demonstrators by pro-regime militias. Meanwhile, President Mohamad Khatami appeared to disappoint reformist members of parliament, who urged him to condemn the arrests of hundreds of demonstrators earlier this month. He said only that protest should be free, but within "the framework of the law."

Tens of millions of dollars in aid to Burma (Myanmar) were suspended by the Japanese government until democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi is freed from official custody. New pressure for her release also came from London, where Prime Minister Blair urged British companies to halt trading with Burma. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan also joined in applying pressure, expressing "increasing alarm" over the welfare of Suu Kyi, who hasn't been seen in public since her arrest May 30.

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