The Sunni Triangle city of Ramadi was back under the control of Iraqi and US forces after masked gunmen disrupted it for about two hours Thursday. No casualties were reported. Before dispersing, the gunmen distributed leaflets claiming that Al Qaeda was seizing the city. The incident took place less than a day after President Bush's speech detailing plans for the training of Iraqi security forces so they are strong enough to combat terrorists on their own.

As expected, Israeli elder statesman Shimon Peres quit the opposition Labor Party and threw his support behind Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's new political organization, Kadima. Peres will not join Kadima but would be rewarded with a senior post in a new government if Sharon is reelected next March, reports said. As a result of Peres's move, one-third of respondents to a new opinion poll said they'd now probably vote for Sharon and Kadima.

A would-be voter was shot to death, dozens of others were reported wounded, and at least four elections judges were beaten by police in Egypt as the final round of balloting for seats in parliament opened Thursday. The violence came in towns that are strongholds of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, whose candidates have made unexpectedly large gains in earlier rounds. The Interior Ministry said the security measures were imposed to prevent Brotherhood supporters from "terrorizing" voters for other candidates.

A brand-new UN investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was demanded by the government of neighboring Syria after a witness in the current probe claimed he'd been bribed to frame officials of his own country for the crime. The claim was quickly dismissed by lead investigator Detlev Mehlis of Germany, who said the recanted testimony hadn't undermined the probe. Mehlis also said the witness, a self-proclaimed intelligence operative, had given the investigators different information than was in his claim Wednesday on Syrian television.

A bomber disguised as a tea vendor killed himself and a policeman outside a courthouse in a Bangladesh city that was the scene of an identical attack Tuesday. Twenty-five others were hurt in the blast, which caused Prime Minister Khaleda Zia to cancel a visit to the United Arab Emirates. Police removed another bomb from a government building near Dhaka, the capital, before it could explode. The latest attack came as lawyers were protesting for greater security in the face of the mounting violence, which has been blamed on a banned Islamist group that seeks to impose strict sharia law.

Parliament was given a one-year deadline by the Supreme Court of South Africa to rewrite the nation's marriage laws, making same-sex unions legal. The justices ruled that denying homosexuals the right to marry each other is unconstitutional. They said legislators must add the words "or spouse" to the definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman or else the change will be effected by the court. Passage of a same-sex marriage law would make South Africa the fifth nation with such a provision. But it would be the first in Africa, where homosexuality is widely considered taboo.

A new law making every citizen of Argentina an organ-donor candidate - unless he or she expressly demands not to be - won unanimous final approval in Congress. It appears certain to be signed by President Nestor Kirchner since his government introduced it a year ago. About 6,000 Argentines are on waiting lists for organ transplants.

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