Doctors were maintaining a round-the-clock watch on Yasser Arafat in his West Bank compound amid reports that the Palestinian Authority president is seriously ill. Still to be determined was whether he would be transferred to a hospital abroad for more intensive care. The Israeli government, which has confined him to the compound for 2-1/2 years, announced it would permit such a trip as well as a return afterward. Meanwhile, anxious Palestinians monitored the situation closely, since Arafat has no obvious successor.

Terrorists in Iraq showed off another woman captive who they said is Polish and demanded that her government remove all its forces in return for her freedom. They also called again for the release of all women from Iraq's prisons. The new drama was playing out amid efforts to persuade the terrorists to free a Japanese tourist threatened with decapitation by Thursday night unless the Tokyo government also pulled its troops out of Iraq. Meanwhile, new videotape footage was broadcast on Al Jazeera of kidnaped CARE International director Margaret Hassan pleading with the British government to spare her life by withdrawing its troops.

A manhunt was under way in Afghanistan's capital for three foreign elections workers taken hostage at gunpoint when kidnappers cut off their UN vehicle and beat their driver. A breakaway Taliban faction claimed responsibility, and the incident raised worries that terrorist tactics used in Iraq may have spread. No other foreigners are known to have been abducted in Afghanistan since March, when a Turkish engineer was seized by suspected Taliban militants. He was freed three months later. The latest incident occurred as final results of the Oct. 9 presidential election were expected to be announced.

A terrorist bomb exploded in volatile southern Thailand in perhaps the first response by Islamist militants to the deaths of protesters earlier this week. The blast went off in Narathiwat Province on the border with Malaysia, killing at least one person and wounding 20 others. Elsewhere in Narathiwat, police defused another bomb before it was set to go off at a busy produce vendor's stall. Muslim leaders warned of a backlash after the suffocation of 78 people in Army trucks that were taking them to detention.

A runoff election already is expected in Ukraine, where voters go to the polls Sunday to choose a successor to hard-line President Leonid Kuchma. Twenty-three candidates are on the ballot, but analysts say the race will come down to Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych and a Western-oriented predecessor, Viktor Yuschenko, who is widely seen as the best hope for reforming the ex-Soviet republic's corrupt institutions.

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