Another powerful explosion, the second in two days, rocked Karbala, Iraq. There was no immediate word on casualties, but security forces sealed off the area. On Sunday, a terrorist exploded a car bomb outside the main bus station of the Shiite Muslim holy city, killing 13 people and wounding 33 others. In nearby Najaf, authorities arrested 50 men suspected of involvement in the bombing there Sunday that killed or wounded 192 people.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon won a key vote from parliament that clears the way for him to bring the opposition Labor Party into a unity government. But in an about-face, Sharon also dealt a blow to the idea of an international conference on Middle East peace for which the British government has been considering a host role. Last week, he said Israel was prepared to attend, provided the conference focused on Palestinian government reform and reviving the Palestinian economy. Meanwhile, a prominent Jewish leader was attempting to revive efforts by settlers to resist Sharon's planned evacuation of the Gaza Strip next year, calling it "an immoral crime."

A live televised debate Monday night between the two candidates for president in Ukraine was expected to be more open and candid than the one before their first runoff in November. Voters go to the polls for a court-ordered second runoff Sunday. It was not clear whether Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich would, as he did in their first debate, suggest that opposition leader Viktor Yuschenko might be unable to carry out the duties of the office because of the mysterious ailment that has disfigured his face. Doctors have since said Yuschenko was the victim of deliberate poisoning. Yuschenko has said he is fit to be president but does not want his health to be a campaign issue.

Calling it "blackmail," the largest communist rebel force in Colombia rejected a threat by President Alvaro Uribe to extradite one of their jailed leaders to the US unless they free 63 hostages by year's end. Authorities in the US want to try Ricardo Palmera of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) on cocaine-smuggling charges. FARC wants to swap the hostages, three of whom are Americans, for thousands of its members in government prisons.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.