Terrorists in Iraq picked up where they left off during the nation's elections last Sunday, killing at least 28 more people in a series of attacks. The most serious took place near the northern city of Kirkuk, where a bus carrying Army recruits was ambushed. Only two of the 14 people aboard were spared, and they were ordered to warn others against joining the security forces, reports said.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon won the OK of his cabinet for the withdrawal of troops from Jericho in the West Bank and for the release of 900 Palestinians from jail. Both measures were seen as attempts to improve the climate for Tuesday's summit with new Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The prisoners are to be freed in two stages: 500 immediately after the summit and the rest within 90 days. Abbas has asked for 7,000 prisoners to be released and for his security forces to assume control of four other West Bank cities.

Catholic and Protestant leaders alike condemned an announcement by the Irish Republican Army that it was withdrawing its offer to disarm, a new setback for peace hopes in Northern Ireland. The IRA said the decision was made because it is being blamed for a $50 million bank robbery in Belfast last December. The outlawed organization did, however, pledge to continue abiding by its unilateral seven-year-old cease-fire.

Poisoning by a faulty gas heater appeared to be the cause of death for the prime minister of Georgia, and President Mikhail Saakashvili announced he'd assume the powers of the office on an interim basis. Zurab Zhvania's remains and those of a friend with whom he'd been playing backgammon were found in the latter's apartment in Tblisi, the capital, early Thursday. Power supplies in the ex-Soviet republic are erratic, especially in winter, and the occupants of many buildings resort to heaters that are fed by gas canisters.

The leader of the political opposition fled Cambodia after parliament stripped him of immunity to faciliate three lawsuits for slander - one of them by Premier Hun Sun, his arch-enemy. Sam Rainsy reportedly was bound for Thailand. He has accused Hun Sen of plotting a 1997 hand grenade attack that killed 16 people at one of his party's campaign rallies.

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