Palestinians pelted investigators with rocks and stones as they arrived at the scene of a roadside bomb explosion in the Gaza Strip that killed at least three Americans traveling in a diplomatic convoy. A fourthAmerican was wounded in the attack, which reports called unprecedented. US citizens were ordered to leave the volatile strip, although Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer in Jerusalem said the Bush administration would continue to work toward peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

With the UN Security Council preparing to vote on a resolution on Iraq's future, the nation's interim Governing Council said national elections "definitely" will be held next year. Its chief, Iyad Allawi, also said the US should command any peacekeeping mission that the UN may mandate. Meanwhile, Japan announced a $1.5 billion contribution to the reconstruction of Iraq.

From posting heavily armed guards to banning unscheduled flights, countries on President Bush's itinerary were taking heavy security precautions for his arrival beginning this weekend. Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo promised a warm welcome Saturday despite months of fiery anti-US protests there. Among other measures, Thailand, the host of next week's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, deployed infrared systems to guard against intruders at Bangkok's airport. Above, police keep watch outside the US Embassy in Manila.

The first Chinese astronaut was more than halfway through his mission aboard a spacecraft that was to orbit Earth 14 times. Lt. Col. Yang Liwei, a former fighter pilot, is scheduled to land early Thursday in a grassy region of Inner Mongolia. While successful, the launch was not broadcast live, although state TV broke into its regular programming within minutes to offer videotaped coverage.

Streets were empty and businesses were closed in Bolivia's capital as it braced for more protests, with organizers vowing they'll continue until President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada resigns. Demonstrators converged on La Paz from the north and south, with a government spokesman appealing to them "to stop being belligerent." But police and the Army abandoned plans to reopen the blockaded city to traffic.

As many as 150 people were in custody in Saudi Arabia's capital following a rare public protest for democratic and social reforms. The Information Ministry blamed the demonstration Tuesday on "some people who had been duped" by dissidents and vowed, "This won't happen again." The government acknowledges receiving three petitions so far this year calling for reform, but has said any changes will come slowly.

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