Two senior Iraqi government officials, both Shiites, were hurt as a car bomb exploded outside a ceremony they were attending in Baghdad. Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi and Public Works Minister Riad Ghreeb weren't seriously wounded, but six other people died in the blast. It came amid reports that President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, had been hospitalized in neighboring Jordan due to "extreme fatigue." Meanwhile, acting on a tip, US and Iraqi forces seized a cache of weapons north of Baghdad that they said are believed to have come from Iran.

More rewards were coming to North Korea as a result of its agreement to halt its nuclear weapons program in exchange for new international aid. A US Treasury official said Monday his department was ready to "begin taking steps" that would result in lifting sanctions against a Macao bank accused of laundering money for the Pyongyang regime. The freeze has tied up $24 million in North Korean funds. Senior negotiators of North and South Korea are to meet Tuesday on restoring official governmental contacts, on restoration of aid to the North, and on an eventual second summit between their presidents.

Nablus was sealed off Monday by Israeli troops searching for seven fugitive Palestinian militants in the biggest security crackdown there in months. The West Bank city is a hub for cells of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and has spawned many of the terrorist bombers who have targeted Israel. A military spokesman said two explosives laboratories had been discovered Sunday, along with caches of weapons. Al Aqsa has ties to the Fatah movement of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, whose office said the operation was "like cutting the road forward in all our efforts to find peace."

No compensation will have to be paid by the government of Serbia after the UN's highest court cleared it of responsibility for genocide in the 1992-95 Bos-nian war. The decision is binding. But the International Court of Justice ruled Monday that Serbia had "violated its obligation to prevent" the "ethnic cleansing" that ravaged Bosnia in the war, especially the massacre of Muslim males at Sreb-renica. A lawsuit filed by Bosnia accused Serbia of active participation in the killings. After the ruling, Serbian President Boris Tadic asked parliament to condemn the Srebrenica massacre.

Early returns from Sunday's voting in Senegal pointed to the reelection of President Abdoul-aye Wade to a new five-year term. But although aides predicted victory by more than a 50 percent margin, the National Electoral Commission warned against claiming that the result was certain. Wade's 14 opponents said such a margin would be impossible without fraud. A runoff will be held next month if no one wins a first-round majority. Senegal is one of Africa's most stable democracies, but Wade is accused of neglecting rural poverty, which has led tens of thousands of people to leave in search of work in Europe.

Antigovernment protesters were back in force in southern Nepal, blocking highways and threatening a general strike that would begin next week. Ethnic Madhesis broke off contact with the government, accusing it of not creating "minimum conditions" for further dialogue on more representation in parliament and increased autonomy. The Madhesis suspended protests Feb. 8 after receiving assurances that their grievances would be addressed. At least 21 people have died in protest-related violence so far.

Three days after their arrest for murder, a squad of Guatemalan police officers was found shot to death in a prison riot. Authorities said the latest crime appeared to have been carried out by hit men for a drug cartel that had recruited the police to kill Salvadoran members of the Central American Parliament, which meets in Guatemala City. Relatives of the police blamed guards at the prison for admitting the hit men during visiting hours Sunday. It wasn't clear whether the riot was staged to cover the shootings.

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