Its banking dispute finally resolved, North Korea said it has invited inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to come and discuss procedures for shutting down its nuclear facilities. Word of the invitation was welcomed by the Bush administration, but an IAEA source told the BBC that it had not yet been received. The North had refused to honor its commitment to close the facilities until $25 million frozen in a Macao bank was transferred to another accessible account. As a result, it missed by two months its deadline for shutting the nuclear facilities.

Thirty-five instructors were killed and 35 others were wounded – most of them seriously – when a bomb exploded aboard a police academy bus in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, the fifth of its type there in three days and the deadliest since a US-led coalition ousted the fundamentalist movement from power six years ago. Investigators were trying to determine whether the bomb had been planted or was packed into a vest worn by one of those aboard the bus.

Russian President Vladimir Putin wasn't serious at the Group of Eight summit earlier this month when he proposed an alternative to the missile defense shield the US wants to build, Iran's Foreign Ministry claimed Sunday. A spokesman said other senior Kremlin leaders have assured the Islamic republic that Putin would not allow such a system to be based in Azerbaijan, even though that is what he offered at the G-8 talks. Key parts of the shield, which would be built as a deterrent to an Iranian threat, are envisioned for Poland and the Czech Republic. The Kremlin bitterly opposes the plan.

At least two Katyusha rockets fell on the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona Sunday, causing property damage but no human casualties, according to early reports. Authorities said they had been fired from Lebanese soil and were the first to land in Israel since the brief war last summer between the Jewish state and Hizbullah.

Despite predictions by Hamas that BBC correspondent Alan Johnston would be freed by his captors in the Gaza Strip Sunday, there were no signs of his release as midnight approached. The network said it had no "firm confirmation" that he was free. Johnston was seized March 12 by a relatively obscure group calling itself the Army of Islam.

Seven Muslim men in their 20s and early 30s were arrested Sunday and a cache of weapons was found in their rented house in southern Thailand, police said. But violence in the region continued through the weekend, with 12 more fatal shootings, among them all seven soldiers assigned to guard a school in Yala Province. Despite the incidents, schools in neighboring Narathiwat Province were to reopen Monday after classes were suspended last week due to the execution-style slayings of three Buddhist teachers.

An estimated 10,000 cheering supporters greeted militant leader Muhajid Dukubo-Asari as he returned to Nigeria's oil delta Saturday on his release from prison. But while he told the crowd that militants must stop taking hostages because "it is criminal," it was not clear that his words would be heeded. Dukubo-Asari has been away for 18 months, analysts noted, and how much influence he still has with followers is unknown. In the meantime, criminal gangs only loosely affiliated with the militants now have embraced the practice. On Sunday armed men stormed a facility operated by Italian oil giant ENI, engaging in a gunfight with guards and taking at least 12 hostages.

Another Serbian war-crimes fugitive was handed over to the UN tribunal for the Balkans, it said Sunday. Vlastimir Djordjevic, a police general and close aide to President Slobodan Milosevic, is wanted for the killings of ethnic Albanian noncombatants in Kosovo in the late 1990s. He was caught in Montenegro and is the second prominent fugitive to be sent to the tribunal this month, leaving only four still on the run, among them ex-Bosnian leader Radovan Karadzic and wartime military chief Ratko Mladic.

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