US airstrikes against "positively identified" militant hideouts in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood lit up the sky for hours Sunday night and early Monday. At least five people were killed in the attacks, and 46 others were hurt. The offensive came as rebel Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr announced through a spokesman that he will boycott Iraq's scheduled national elections in January, reneging on a promise he made in late summer to his superior, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, as part of the peace accord that ended fighting in the holy city of Najaf.

Turning up the intensity of their offensive against Palestinian terrorists, Israel's forces rocketed another car in the Gaza Strip, killing one militant and severely wounding a second. The casualties were identified as a commander of the Popular Resistance Commitees and his aide. The group favors bombing attacks against Israeli tanks. Meanwhile, between the Gaza refugee camp of Khan Younis and the West Bank city of Jenin, six more Palestinians died and eight others were wounded in clashes with Israeli troops. Prime Minister Sharon's government also accused neighboring Syria of "directing terrorism" and warned of further preemptive strikes on that nation's soil. But a Defense Ministry official would not confirm that Israelis had killed a senior Hamas leader in Syria's capital Sunday.

The ruling Social Democrats and Chancelor Gerhard Schröder finally stemmed their recent series of heavy losses in Germany's state elections. They finished second, percentage-wise, in mayoral and city council races in densely populated North Rhine-Westphalia behind the opposition Christian Democrats. But the latter's percentage of the vote fell by 6.9 percent, compared to 2.2 percent for the Social Democrats, since the last balloting in 1999.

Survivors criticized the slow response of rescue teams after a huge wall collapsed at an unfinished airport terminal in Dubai, killing at least eight construction workers and injuring 22 more. Emergency crews reportedly didn't arrive for an hour after the accident. The design consultant was identified as the same one involved in the expansion of Charles de Gaulle Airport outside Paris, where a roof collapsed in May, killing four people. But the company said a different contractor was being used for the Dubai project.

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