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Palestinian militant groups rejected a new deal between Israel and a senior aide to Yasser Arafat that calls for withdrawal of the former's troops from parts of the Gaza Strip and Bethlehem. The plan, called "a glimmer of hope" by Israel's Foreign Ministry, is contingent on Palestinian security forces, who would replace the army, reining in Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other radical movements. But those were unanimous in vowing that their attacks on Israelis would continue. (Story, page 1.)

Palestinian radical Abu Nidal, perhaps the world's most wanted terrorist, was found dead in an apartment in Baghdad, Iraq. But suggestions that he had committed suicide conflicted with the discovery of multiple bullet wounds to his body. Among his victims were Israel's ambassador to Britain and people in ticket lines at Rome's and Vienna's airports. He also was an enemy of Arafat.

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Despite cancellation of a military parade to save money, Afghans celebrated their first Independence Day since the fall of the Taliban. Security was tight for ceremonies in Kabul's sports stadium as President Hamid Karzai and former King Zahir Shah appeared together in a show of national unity. Above, Karzai frees a dove, the symbol of peace.

In a bold dash for freedom, 21 North Koreans arrived in rival South Korea aboard a small fishing boat. The defectors were taken to a government facility in Seoul for questioning. Analysts said the incident could complicate relations between North and South, whose representatives concluded their highest-level talks in months last week.

Separatist rebels in the volatile Indonesian province of Aceh were given three months to prove their sincerity about wanting peace negotiations. Otherwise, the government's Security Ministry said, the threatened intensification of a military crackdown would begin "to secure the sovereignty and integrity of Indonesia." The deadline gives the Free Aceh Movement until December to drop its armed struggle for independence and accept the government's offer of autonomy.

A Muslim divorcee wept as a court in northern Nigeria unanimously denied her appeal of a death-by-stoning sentence for bearing a child out of wedlock. The Islamic court ordered that she be executed as soon as the baby is weaned – likely in less than two years. Her lawyers, who predicted victory, said they'll appeal the verdict to a higher court. The Women's Affairs Ministry announced its intention to join the appeal.

Concluding his emotional homecoming to Poland, Pope John Paul II appeared to be preparing Roman Catholics for a future without him. In his final scheduled appearances he twice asked for "a prayer for the pope during his life and after his death." But he also gave what observers said was his clearest signal yet that he will not retire despite ill health and persistent rumors to the contrary.


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