In another challenge to new Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, a group of angry former police fired into his compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah. The attack was in defiance of his demand that they surrender their weapons under his cease-fire deal with Israel. Abbas, who was inside at the time, ordered a crackdown against militants. But he later backed down and agreed to a compromise that would allow the gunmen to return to their old security units with a demotion of one rank.

More Syrian military units returned home from Lebanon, and their government insisted it is not interfering in the latter's politics. But Lebanese opposition leaders accused the Syrians of trying to block the May election for parliament and of prolonging the life of the current government. Meanwhile, citing opposition and Western sources, The Washington Post said Syria is trying to ensure its continued domination of Lebanon by infiltrating the government with covert operatives "who will not be recognized." Such an effort would contradict President Bashar Assad's promise of a complete withdrawal of his troops and intelligence agents, the report said.

Citing a perceived lack of improvement in public safety, 12 political parties in Afghanistan announced an alliance to oppose President Hamid Karzai in the crucial September election for a new parliament. The alliance is led by Yunus Qanooni, who finished second to Karzai in the presidential election last October, and several regional warlords - whom Karzai has called a risk to national security. Qanooni said the new alliance would seek to make the legislature a counterweight to Karzai.

For the first time since the genocide in Rwanda 11 years ago, a Hutu rebel group publicly denounced it and pledged an end to militancy against the government. The Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda said it now "is committed to fight against all ideologies of ethnic hate." Hutu radicals are blamed for killing an estimated 500,000 Tutsis and moderates of their own ethnic group and remain at the center of tensions. An aide to President Paul Kagame said the vow, if true, was welcome but that the rebels would prove their seriousness by disarming. Above, Marcel Gatsinzi, Rwanda's Hutu defense minister, testifies before a village court that he didn't assist the genocide perpetrators.

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