"Unusually high" voting totals from last weekend's referendum on the proposed new Iraqi constitution were being audited by the Independent Electoral Commission amid accusations by Sunni leaders that the balloting was rigged. One official cautioned that it was too soon to say whether reports of 99 percent approval rates in some provinces proved fraud or would even affect the outcome. A heavy "yes" vote was expected in areas with Shiite and Kurdish majorities anyway, and it was there that most of the possible irregularities were being reported, the elections official said.

Public health officials and political leaders of the European Union sought to reassure the people of the Continent that there was no increased threat of a bird flu epidemic even though Greece joined the list of countries reporting confirmed cases of infected fowl. Some leaders made a public show of dining on chicken, and EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou warned against taking unnecessarily the anti-flu drugs that people have rushed to buy. But he also said western Europe was ill-prepared to deal with an emergency if the threat did increase. An infected turkey was found on one of Greece's Aegean Sea islands, but an Agriculture Ministry spokesman said "there are no other positive samples."

More shooting was reported Tuesday in the southern Russian city where Islamist extremists attacked government installations last week, resulting in 137 deaths. The Interior Ministry ordered residents of Nalchik not to leave home without identity documents and to submit to all security checks. But reports said one suspected participant in the raids was shot as he tried to resist police. The city is near Chechnya, and Chechen militant leader Shamil Basayev claimed responsibility on Monday for "the general operative management" of the attacks.

"Every Kashmiri" will be allowed to cross the line of control between India and Pakistan to help in earthquake reconstruction efforts, the latter's president said. But Pervez Musharraf drew no response from senior Indian officials, although his words appeared to be another in a series of initiatives to bring peace to the disputed region, over which the rivals have fought three wars. Meanwhile, the unofficial count of deaths from the magnitude-7.6 quake rose to 41,000 in Pakistan, with 67,000 more people reported injured. The UN estimates that as many as 3.3 million people were left homeless.

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