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The position of Afghanistan's Taliban regime appeared perilous as threats to it grew internally as well as internationally. (Related stories, pages 1, 6, 7; related editorials, page 8.) Although Taliban chief Muhamad Omar told interviewers "Americans don't have the courage to come here," a US military strike appeared certain, neighboring Pakistan's president said. Meanwhile:

• Exiled King Zahir Shah and the opposition Northern Alliance reached agreement on a plan to succeed the Taliban if it falls;

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• Heavy fighting with alliance forces was dividing the Taliban's attention;

• British authorities announced they have frozen $88 million in Taliban deposits in a London bank.

At least 22 people were killed, dozens of others were wounded, and more than 100 surrounding structures were heavily damaged as Islamic militants set off a car bomb in Srinagar, capital of the disputed state of Kashmir. A gunfight with police also erupted after the militants penetrated the state legislature, which was in session at the time. Responsibility for the attack was claimed by Jaish-e-Muhamad, a Pakistan-based group that has been active in the 12-year campaign against Indian rule. Above, Indian troops guard the scene.

The explosion of another car bomb in Jerusalem and a new series of clashes in Palestinian territories show that the cease-fire plan isn't working, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's aides said. The blast, which caused property damage but no reported injuries, came as Palestinian Authority chief Yasser Arafat's deadline for enforcing the truce dwindled to 24 hours. But no Israeli decision on the next course of action was expected until after the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.

Lawyers for the fugitive son of former Indonesian dictator Suharto were not sure whether he'd surrender to police after the Supreme Court nullified his conviction on corruption charges because of "technical mistakes." In a decision likely to have major implications for the government's widely watched antigraft campaign, the court threw out the 18-month prison sentence of Hutomo (Tommy) Mandala Putra. Rather than serve the term, he went into hiding last November, and police have been accused of bungling the search for him.

Nguyen Van Thieu, who died in Boston, was president of South Vietnam from 1967 until nine days before it fell to communist forces in late April 1975. But despite his high profile, hard-line style, critics said he never won broad political support in the countryside, where the battle was waged between his government's army and the communist Viet Cong for the hearts and minds of peasants.


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