Coalition forces in Iraq struggled against one of their most difficult weekends in the postwar period, with a wave of violent protests, car bomb explosions, targeted killings of police officers, and sabotage of an oil pipeline. In the worst incident, at least 20 people were killed and as many as 200 others were wounded when armed followers of a radical anti-American Shiite Muslim cleric clashed with Salvadoran and Spanish troops near Najaf. A similar confrontation was reported in Baghdad, although early reports did not mention casualties.
Hope of being spared further terrorism disappeared in Spain after a powerful bomb was found on the tracks of a high-speed train and a police raid on the hideout of Muslim radicals in Madrid turned violent. In the latter incident, four suspected terrorists killed themselves and a policeman with explosives rather than surrender. One of the dead was identified as the leader of the March 11 coordinated train bombings, which killed 191 people. A search of their apartment yielded more explosives. Police said the bomb found on the tracks of the Madrid-Seville line Friday was made of the same materials used in the March 11 attacks. Near Dortmund, Germany, meanwhile, disaster was averted when the engineer of a high-speed train braked in time to keep it from being derailed by sheet metal that had been bolted to the tracks.
Late opinion polls suggest defeat Monday for the party of Indo-nesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri in elections for a new parliament that, analysts say, are the first major test of democracy there. Such an outcome would return Golkar, the party of longtime autocratic ruler Sukarno, to control of the legislature. It also could influence the July election in which Megawati is seeking a second term. For the first time, the polls also showed her slipping from the lead in that race.
Voters rejected the go-soft approach of Sri Lanka's prime minister toward Tamil separatists, handing an election victory to President Chandrika Kumaratunga. The win gives her the right to oust her bitter rival, Prime Minister Ranil Wickreme-singhe, and to appoint her own choice to the post. But her United People's Freedom Alliance appeared five seats short of a majority in Parliament, necessitating a coalition with one or more smaller parties.