New infighting among Shiites and an apparent assassination attempt against President Jalal Talabani competed for the headlines with another hitch in approval of Iraq's draft constitution. Parliament announced it had no plans to meet Thursday despite the approaching end of an extension for voting on the proposed charter. Nor were any future sessions scheduled, a spokesman said. Earlier, radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr urged "all believers" to end two days of violence that killed at least four of his supporters, calling this week "a critical and difficult period that requires unity." Meanwhile, gunmen attacked Talabani's motorcade as it returned to Baghdad from Kurdistan. He was not in, but eight of his bodyguards were killed and 15 other people were wounded.
Israelis and Palestinians escalated the level of violence between them Thursday, undercutting the goodwill engendered by the evacuation of Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip. Palestinians fired rockets at an Israeli town from across the border in northern Gaza and a young British Jew was stabbed to death on a street in Jerusa-lem. A mortar fired from southern Lebanon struck another Israeli town. For their part, Israeli troops raided Tulkarm in the West Bank, killing five suspected militants who reportedly resisted arrest. Vacated Jewish settlements in Gaza will be renamed for dead "martyrs," perhaps including Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian Authority said.
The Sept. 18 election in Germany is constitutional and may take place on schedule, the nation's highest court ruled. It rejected an appeal by dissident legislators that Chancellor Gerhard Schröder had acted outside his authority last month to orchestrate a no-confidence vote in his government and then to lose it on purpose. Schröder justified the move on grounds that he needed a new electoral mandate for his economic-reform agenda. Campaigning for the election is well under way, with the opposition Christian Democratic Union of chairman Angela Merkel enjoying a wide lead in opinion polls. If elected, she'd be Germany's first female chancellor.
The prime minister of mostly Islamic Ingushetia, in southern Russia, was hurt in an assassination attempt as two bombs exploded almost simultaneously in the region's capital. The attack came a year to the day after the terrorist siege of a school in nearby Beslan in which more than 330 people died, most of them children. Ibragim Malsagov was being treated for leg and hand wounds; his driver was killed. Ingushetia frequently has experienced spillover violence from neighboring Chechnya.