Rioting by Muslims angry over the publishing of cartoon images of the prophet Muhammad spread to more areas of Paki- stan, and authorities appeared reluctant to deal harshly with the perpetrators because "the issue is sensitive." While serious - at least five people have died so far and numerous foreign-owned businesses have been destroyed - the protests had involved relatively small crowds until Wednesday, when an estimated 70,000 went on a rampage in the city of Peshawar. Pakistan is a key ally of the US and other Western nations battling terrorism, and President Bush is scheduled to visit there next month.

For the fourth time, terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was sentenced to death in absentia by Jordan's state security court. The Al Qaeda-in-Iraq chieftan was among nine defendants found guilty of plotting chemical truck-bomb attacks on Jordan's intelligence headquarters and US interests in 2004. If the attacks had been successful, experts said, a toxic cloud could have killed thousands of people across the kingdom. In addition to Zarqawi, three other defendants in the case remain at large.

By Friday, all farmers who keep domestic fowl in Germany will be required to take them indoors, the government said, after dead migratory swans found on a Baltic Sea island were confirmed to be infected with the H5N1 strain of bird flu. All poultry within three miles of the discovery will be tested, the Agriculture Ministry announced. The discovery makes Germany the fourth European Union member with the virus. Dead swans also were found in Denmark, and tests were being conducted Wednesday to establish whether they were infected. Meeting in Brussels, the EU's executive commission approved $2.2 million in new funding for surveillance of migratory birds and for testing programs through the end of the year.

Tamil separatist rebels said they were "shocked" that Sri Lanka's president had ruled out their demand for an autonomous homeland and warned that such a position would leave them no alternative but to "endeavor hard" for a more "effective response." New chief executive Mahinda Rajapakse told Reuters Tuesday that he'd agree to share power but not to Tamil self-rule. The two sides are scheduled to meet next Wednesday in Geneva to try to stave off a return to full-scale civil war, which already has taken an estimated 65,000 lives. A shaky truce that was agreed to in 2002 remains in place, but peace talks broke off almost three years ago.

Former President René Préval urged supporters to keep demanding that Haiti's elections council declare him the winner of the Feb. 7 vote and said he'd contest the results if he is subjected to a runoff. But although he claimed the election was marred by "massive fraud" or "gross errors," Préval said all protests should be peaceful. As he spoke, the interim government said Préval's representatives will be included on a specially appointed panel to review the tally. At last report, the former president was credited with 48.7 percent of the vote, although TV news outlets showed footage of wads of ballots that had been marked for him strewn around a trash dump.

Shopping malls, offices, pubs, theaters, and all other indoor public spaces in England are covered by a mandatory ban on smoking passed by the House of Commons Tuesday after months of heated debate. If, as expected, the measure also passes in Parliament's unelected House of Lords, it will take effect in mid-2007. The neighboring Republic of Ireland banned the practice in pubs, restaurants, and workplaces two years ago, although Northern Ireland remains exempt. Lawmakers in Scotland are expected to enact a law that forbids smoking in indoor public places next month. Six other nations have enacted such measures.

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