A new internal intelligence agency to infiltrate and expose terrorist cells is being formed in Iraq, interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi announced as the war-torn nation experienced another difficult day of violence. A car bomb, the second this week, killed at least 10 people and wounded 40 others in the western city of Hadidtha, 125 miles west of Baghdad. That attack followed by hours the assassination of the governor of Mosul and his two bodyguards. Also, saboteurs damaged vital oil pipelines in both northern and southern Iraq, although officials said the attacks did not interrupt exports.
The Iraqi leader also applied pressure on the government of the Philippines to reconsider its decision to bring home its peacekeeping troops earlier than scheduled. That decision was announced Wednesday in response to a death threat by Muslim terrorists against Filipino hostage Angelo de la Cruz. On a videotape broadcast by Al-Jazeera TV, the truck driver and father of eight children thanked his government for the decision and said he'd be returning home soon. But his captors then announced he wouldn't be freed until after the last Filipino soldier left Iraq.
Palestinian leaders backed off their announced ban of the UN's top envoy to the Middle East after he criticized Yasser Arafat as an obstacle to reform. Terje Roed-Larsen no longer was welcome in Palestinian areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Arafat's aides said Wednesday. But Thursday they said his status would have to be discussed with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan next week. The Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, which has close ties to Arafat, said it was refusing Roed-Larsen "permission to enter any Palestinian territory," however.
A nationwide strike called by leftist labor unions was ignored by most Peruvians Wednesday, despite discontent with its target: President Alejandro Toledo. Worried about a repeat of the arson and looting that accompanied an anti-Toledo protest earlier this month, the government declared the action illegal and deployed tens of thousands of police and Army troops across the country. Toledo's approval rating has plunged from the 60 percent range when he took office in 2001 to 7 percent, largely because of his failure to deliver on promises of more jobs and better pay.
Eighty more people were believed drowned as flooding from weeks of monsoon rains worsened across South Asia. The number of deaths rose to more than 330 in Nepal, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh, and at least 8 million people were marooned or homeless. Flooded cropland in Bangladesh alone was estimated at more than 1 million acres.