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Reaction around the globe to the multiple terrorist attacks in the US was swift:

• Led by Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, world leaders condemned the attacks and offered condolences to the victims. Many leaders were convening emergency meetings on security in their own nations.

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• In the West Bank, Jerusalem's Arab neighborhoods, and Lebanon, however, thousands of Palestinians cheered news of the incidents, firing shots into the air, honking car horns, and hailing Saudi dissident and accused terrorism-financier Osama bin Laden.

• In Afghanistan, where bin Laden is assumed to be taking shelter, the ruling Taliban said he was not responsible for the attacks.

• Two militant organizations, Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, denied any connection to the incidents, despite the latter's earlier call for Arabs to "strike American interests." PFLP leader Abu Ali Mustapha died in an Israeli attack Aug. 27. The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine also denied involvement, contradicting a report on Abu Dhabi TV that it had claimed responsibility for both World Trade Center attacks.

• Israel closed its airspace to all foreign carriers and ordered its diplomatic missions in the US evacuated out of concern that they might be targets, television reports said. (Stories, pages 1, 2, 3; editorial, page 8.)

The incidents in the US followed the encircling of the West Bank town of Jenin by Israeli tanks. The Army said the move was an attempt to prevent more suicide bombers from reaching their intended targets. Two people were reported dead and eight others hurt in exchanges of gunfire with Palestinian resisters.

The scheduled meeting between Arafat and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres appeared unlikely to take place until at least Friday. Instead, Arafat was to visit Jordan and Syria for consultations with their respective leaders - an apparent indication that he was seeking to broaden his options as violence in the region spiraled upward.

A new offensive against the rebel alliance in northern Afghanistan was begun by the Taliban amid conflicting reports that the former's wounded field commander had died. Speaking anonymously, Western diplomats said Ahmad Shah Mashood had succumbed to his wounds after a suicide-bomb attack. The alliance named an interim commander but said Mashood - in a hospital in neighboring Tajikistan - "is fine." (Story, page 1.)

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An immediate appeal was filed by Australia's government after a federal court ruled that hundreds of refugees caught trying to sneak into the country had been detained illegally. The court also ordered that the 433 mainly Afghan asylum-seekers be accepted, but immigration officials ordered them to remain in confinement until a final decision is reached.

Efforts to reassure a frightened public were under way in Japan after reports of Asia's first case of "mad cow" disease. The government pledged "a full action plan." But milk from the affected animal already was in distribution, and frantic consumers flooded the Agricultural Ministry and town offices nearest the affected farm with phone calls. South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan halted imports of Japanese beef as a precaution.


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