Insurgents loyal to radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr battled US and Iraqi forces in the holy city of Najaf Thursday, shooting down a US military helicopter and injuring the crew, as fighting quickly spread to other Shiite areas, threatening a shaky two-month-old truce. In Baghdad, a suicide car bomb killed five people and wounded 27 at a police station, the Interior Ministry said.

Pakistan gave British authorities images of London's Heathrow Airport that were found on the computers of two Al Qaeda fugitives arrested last month, intelligence officials said Thursday. The officials, however, could not confirm reports that the information helped lead to the arrests of about a dozen suspected terrorists in Britain this week. Several news reports in Britain said one of the suspects arrested late Tuesday, variously identified as Abu Eisa al-Hindi or Abu Musa al-Hindi, was believed to be a senior member of Al Qaeda and had been plotting an attack on Heathrow.

Leaving behind broken buildings and flattened orchards, Israeli troops Thursday lifted a month-long siege of a northern Gaza town used by Palestinian militants as a launchpad for rocket attacks. Armored vehicles left most of Beit Hanoun one day after extending their incursion into densely populated districts to hunt for the elusive squads firing makeshift rockets into Israel. Missile attacks have intensified as Palestinian militants try to portray Israel's withdrawal plan as a victory for the nearly four-year-old uprising.

Heavy rain inundated villages in western India, collapsing houses, washing away telephone lines, and killing at least 24 people just a week after a prolonged dry spell ended. The toll from six weeks of monsoon floods in South Asia is now estimated at 1,861, according to The Associated Press. More than 1,000 of those deaths occurred in India.

The UN special envoy to Sudan said Thursday he and Sudan's foreign minister had agreed on a plan to tackle the humanitarian crisis in Darfur and to avert sanctions threatened by the UN Security Council. Officials said the first peacekeeping troops should arrive next week.

Henri Cartier-Bresson, the French photographer who elevated photojournalism to an art form with his use of a small hand-held camera, died Monday at his home in France.

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