Two women taken captive by terrorists in Iraq earlier this month have been freed, the Al Jazeera satellite TV channel reported. Simona Pari and Simona Torretta, both civilian aid workers from Italy, were turned over to diplomats from their country in Baghdad, the report said. It offered no other details, but Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi confirmed their release and said they appeared to be well.

Palestinians observed the fourth anniversary of the intifada against Israel that has cost at least 4,010 lives, with Hamas and other radical groups vowing to continue their campaign of violence. Despite the killing by Israel of numerous senior leaders this year, Hamas pointed to "great achievements" in bombing and rocketing Israeli targets. Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia said the anniversary "should make us all ... reconsider where we went wrong and where we went right."

New casualty reports from tropical storm Jeanne pushed the number of dead in Haiti to more than 1,500, with an estimated 1,000 other people still missing and presumed to have perished. Another 300,000 remained homeless more than a week after the storm lashed the impoverished nation. UN peacekeeping troops reported having to use gunfire to drive away desperate would-be looters in Gonaives as a relief convoy entered the city.

With prices for future deliveries of crude oil topping $50 a barrel for the first time, Saudi Arabia will increase production by 1.5 million barrels a day, Petroleum Minister Ali Naimi announced. The kingdom, which has the world's largest reserves, has begun pumping from newly opened fields, he said. The Saudis already pump 9.5 million barrels a day. Earlier, Indo-nesia's oil minister, who also is the president of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, said the cartel is powerless "at the moment" to stop the rapid rise in crude prices.

Two major oil producers shrugged off a threat by rebels in Nigeria to begin "all-out war" Friday that would halt production there. Royal/Dutch Shell and Eni, the Italian energy giant, said they had no plans to cut their output in Nigeria. The Niger Delta People's Volunteer Force, which seeks sovereignty for the region, issued a communiqué late Monday advising all foreign nationals to leave. It said once fighting began, it would last until President Olusegun Obasanjo's government agreed to negotiate self-determination.

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