A senior representative of Fallujah ridiculed the interim Iraqi government's demand for the handover of terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his followers, the group who claimed responsibility for two explosions in Baghdad that killed five people and wounded 18 others. The blasts went off in the protected Green Zone, and seven of the casualties were Americans. Meanwhile, other terrorists beheaded a Turkish truck driver and posted warnings in Baghdad that Iraqis should stop working for the government or "be targeted by your mujahideen brothers" during Ramadan, the Islamic holy month that begins Friday.

Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia admitted that the Palestinian Authority's security police cannot stop the anarchy spreading through the Gaza Strip amid the ongoing crackdown there by Israeli defense forces. Qureia said the authority bears "a very big responsibility" for corruption and factional feuding that have hobbled the security apparatus, over which Yasser Arafat refuses to cede control. Earlier this week, Arafat's cousin, the chief of security in Gaza, narrowly escaped assassination.

"To bring stability" to deeply troubled Pakistan, the lower house of parliament passed new legislation allowing President Pervez Musharraf to remain as Army chief. Last month he backed out of a pledge made to his political opponents to give up the latter post in return for expanded presidential powers. The bill now goes to the upper house, where passage is considered virtually certain.

Citing intelligence reports of potential trouble by "malcontents," Zimbabwe's government put security forces on high alert prior to Friday's verdict in the treason trial of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. He is charged with plotting to assassinate authoritarian President Robert Mugabe, who narrowly defeated him in a 2002 election that independent observers say was deeply flawed. If convicted, Tsvangirai could be sentenced to execution. His Movement for Democratic Change has scorned the proceedings as a charade, maintaining that it's democracy that is on trial instead.

By a reportedly unanimous vote, the lesser-known son of Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk's was chosen to succeed him. Norodom Sihamoni, a former ballet dancer and cultural ambassador, will be crowned Oct. 29. Sihanouk asked last week to be relieved of his duties because of ill health. His other son, Norodom Ranariddh, has said he'd rather be politically active than assume the throne.

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