War-crimes trials will begin next week for the first of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's top lieutenants, interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said. Hussein, however, won't be among them, he said, suggesting that his trial will be saved for last. But the announcement drew scorn from the Jordanian attorney who will lead Hussein's defense team. He said Allawi "is dreaming" because much work remains to be done and because the defendants, Baath Party leaders, were denied access to counsel at critical times.

In related developments:

• Seven more people died in the second terrorist car-bomb explosion outside Baghdad's Green Zone in two days.

• Construction workers near Sulaymaniya in Kurdish northern Iraq uncovered another mass grave from the Hussein era estimated to hold as many as 500 sets of human remains.

• The government of Poland announced it will withdraw one-third of its troops beginning in February, leaving about 1,700 in place.

The presumed front-runner in the Jan. 9 Palestinian presidential election told interviewers that the intifada against Israel has been a mistake and must end. Mahmoud Abbas, however, said opposition to Israel is "a legitimate right" that should continue without resorting to violence. Analysts said his comments signaled a determination to change the course of the Palestinian Authority in the wake of Yasser Arafat's death.

The chief of security for fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Omar was captured as he and a companion traveled in a van near Kandahar, Afghanistan, authorities said. Their arrests came as President Hamid Karzai offered Taliban remnants an amnesty. But police said Naqibullah Khan and Qayoom Angar were carrying a satellite phone and "important documents" that they hoped would lead them to Omar himself.

Suspicion immediately fell on Islamist militants for the death of a Buddhist high school teacher via a drive-by shooting in southern Thailand - the latest in a series of violent incidents that began in early January and have killed more than 550 people. The unrest has slowed tourism in the once-popular region to a trickle, and hours after the shooting an upscale resort hotel announced that it will close Jan. 1.

In a second straight day of violence in India's restive Assam State, terrorist bombings killed two more people and wounded at least 44 others. On Monday, two policemen died and seven civilians were hurt in similar blasts in a crowded marketplace. Hundreds of miles to the southwest, two passenger trains collided head-on Tuesday. Early reports put the number of casualties at 27 dead, with more than 60 injured.

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