In the latest terrorist attack on international targets in Iraq, a truck bomb destroyed an Italian military police base in the southern city of Nasiriyah. Initial reports said the powerful blast killed at least 24 people, 16 of them Italians, and injured some 15 others. Italy has contributed 2,300 troops to Iraq's rebuilding effort, and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said despite the losses, he remains determined "to help resurrect this country and build self-government, security, and freedom."

In a separate incident, US troops mistakenly fired on a car carrying a member of the Iraqi Governing Council in Baghdad, injuring his driver, the Iraqi administration said. The councillor wasn't hurt, but the accident came amid reports of increased friction between the council and US authorities disappointed by the lack of progress on drafting a new constitution.

The Palestinian legislature, as expected, approved the new Cabinet of Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia, ending a two-month stalemate. Ahead of the confidence vote, Qureia called for an immediate cease-fire and resumed peace talks with Israel, saying: "We want peace and security and independence that will not be realized unless we work together." While expressing concern that the new administration leaves Yasser Arafat in control, Zalman Shoval, an adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, voiced lukewarm support for Qureia. "If he will bring about quiet, Israel will not oppose this," Shoval said.

An estimated 50,000 auto, metal, and other workers walked off jobs in South Korea, shutting down operations at Hyundai Motor Co., the nation's largest automaker. The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions called the one-day strike to protest the labor policies of President Roh Moo-hyun's administration, which it calls oppressive. They demanded an end to lawsuits against union members over previous strikes and denounced government plans to send more troops to Iraq.

Riot police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse 10,000 protesters gathered at a shopping center in the Philippines capital, Manila, to demand the resignation of President Gloria Arroyo. The demonstrators, supporters of Arroyo's predecessor Joseph Estrada, overstayed their permit, National Security Adviser Roilo Golez said, dismissing rumors of a plot to destabilize the government. The rally came a day after the military activated a new security unit for the city.

Announcing the first convictions in the largest corporate scandal in French history, a Paris court sentenced three top executives from former oil giant Elf to as much as five years in prison and hefty fines. Calling ex- chairman Loik Le Floch-Prigent "the source of most of the misappropriations," the judge ordered him to pay $435,700. He's among 37 people accused of embezzling $350 million from the once state-owned firm.

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