Its peak winds down slightly to 155 m.p.h., hurricane Ivan appeared ready to hit the affluent Cayman Islands with a glancing blow, as it did Jamaica. But meteorologists projected that Cuba was in for a direct hit. The Caymans' well-built homes and other structures are rated better able to stand up to Category 5 winds, but many dwellings in Cuba are far less sturdy. Ivan was blamed for at least 56 deaths.

The Al Qaeda-linked Tawhid and Jihad group of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi claimed responsibility for a weekend of violence in central Baghdad and issued a new death threat against interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Alawi. At least 13 people were reported killed in clashes with US forces, and 61 others were wounded. Ten more died in similar fighting in the city of Ramadi, and terrorists fired into a cluster of Iraqi police in the northern city of Mosul, killing one and wounding seven others. The new threat against Alawi called him and his colleagues "idiots" and said: "While you have your Christians, we have our Lord, who answers our calls."

Supporters of a defiant regional governor in Afghanistan went on a rampage after his dismissal by President Hamid Karzai, clashing with police and American troops and setting fire to UN offices. At least seven people died and 20 others were hurt. Karzai ousted Gov. Ismail Khan, a warlord who had held virtually autonomous sway over Herat, but offered him the post of Minister of Industry and Mines. Khan turned it down, reportedly agreeing, however, to live as a "private citizen."

A huge explosion and mushroom cloud of smoke was reported near a known missile base in North Korea, but Western defense experts downplayed the possibility that it was nuclear in nature. The blast was detected last Thursday, the anniversary of communist North Korea's founding in 1948. The Pyong-yang government had yet to comment on the incident, although it said Saturday that recently revealed secret experiments with uranium and plutonium in rival South Korea in the early 1980s ensured that its own nuclear program can never be abandoned. It also said the South Korean experimentation was sufficient reason to pull out of further negotiations over its nuclear program.

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