US forces sealed off whole districts of Mosul after the terrorist attack there Tuesday that killed 14 of their fellow troops, four American civilians, and four Iraqis. A hunt was on for suspects, and investigators were looking into the possibility that the explosion inside the dining tent was caused by a bomb planted by saboteurs. Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said the attack would not prevent or delay his nation's Jan. 30 election.

Two reporters taken hostage in Iraq in late August were freed by their captors and were headed home to France in time for Christmas. The Paris government insisted no ransom had been paid for their release. Christian Chesnot and George Malbrunot were let go by a group calling itself the Islamic Army of Iraq even though its demand - the scrapping of a new law banning the wearing of Muslim head scarves in French public schools - was not met.

Rebel units pledged not to initiate any fighting in Sudan's Darfur region "as long as we're not attacked" - matching a promise earlier this week by government forces. Still, fighting was reported in one major town, and 11 days of revived peace negotiations were called off by African Union mediators because they were stalemated. Meanwhile, the UN put the number of dead so far in Darfur at more than 70,000.

UN peacekeeping troops in the hills of eastern Congo were trying to establish a six-mile-wide buffer zone between government soldiers and Rwanda-backed dissidents who've been fighting them. The clashes have chased an estimated 180,000 civilians from their homes and threaten to reignite the civil war that ended two years ago. Aid agencies say the refugees may be hiding in deep forest, where they're unreachable, raising the potential for a humanitarian disaster.

Calling 2004 a "horrible" year, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan told a news conference that it's vital for the world body and the US to put their disputes behind them. He repeated his insistence that he has no intention of resigning over alleged corruption in the UN's oil-for-food program in Iraq, despite indications that ousted dictator Saddam Hussein gamed it for more than $20 billion. Annan said criticisms of the UN and of his leadership "have not been helpful" and "we need to find a way .. to move on."

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