US forces were expected to assert control over much of Najaf, Iraq, within days, avoiding only sensitive Shiite holy sites in a bid to end the confrontation with firebrand cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. In volatile Fallujah, commanders sought to dispel the notion that more fighting with resisters was inevitable, saying Iraqi police would join American marines in patrolling the city following a new agreement with civic leaders. But in southern Iraq, security was being reevaluated after attackers penetrated by boat to within a short distance of vital oil terminals Saturday and exploded three bombs, killing two US sailors and causing some property damage.

In a rare display of candor, communist North Korea admitted that last week's explosion at a railway station was "very serious" and appealed for international help. At last report, 161 people died and more than 1,300 were injured. A UN aid official at the scene said local hospitals "clearly lack the ability" to care for the victims - 60 percent of them children.

Thousands of Palestinians rallied to Yasser Arafat's side after Israeli leaders declared they no longer were bound by a pledge not to harm him. But aides to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said no attack on Arafat was imminent and suggested that, at most, he might be expelled to the Gaza Strip from his West Bank headquarters. The new stance drew immediate objection from the Bush administration, with Secretary of State Powell saying the US still considers the pledge binding.

The two-year-old peace accord in Indonesia's troubled Molucca islands was put to its stiffest test yet after Muslims and Christians fought each other in the streets of Ambon, the provincial capital. At least 10 people died and property damage was heavy. The clash started after Christians tried to celebrate the anniversary of a failed bid for independence.

"The political damage is large," senior European Union officials said, after Saturday's referendum on reuniting the Greek and Turkish sectors of Cyprus was rejected. As a result, Greek Cyprus alone will be admitted to the EU May 1, but international sentiment appeared to be growing to find a way to end the economic isolation of Turkish Cypriots. The latter OK'd the plan, but it was defeated, 76-to-24 percent, by Greek Cypriot voters.

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