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Twin terrorist bombings on the offices of pro-US Kurdish political parties in northern Iraq killed at least 57 people Sunday as people gathered for the start of a major Muslim holiday. More than 230 others were wounded in the explosions, and authorities said the number of dead could exceed 100. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, although a radical Kurdish terrorist group, Ansar al-Islam, operates in the area. The incidents came one day after 15 people died in violence in Iraq - nine of them at a police station in Mosul when a car bomb exploded as they gathered to collect their pay.

More than one-third of the members of Iran's parliament quit, effective immediately, deepening the bitter feud over scheduled elections 2-1/2 weeks from now. Their move came one day after an emergency meeting of President Mohamad Khatami's cabinet to discuss the crisis was canceled because he was receiving medical treatment for back pain and stress. Khatami had vowed his government would hold "only competitive and free elections." The crisis began when the nation's hard-line Guardian Council vetoed almost half of the 8,200 candidates for parliament, calling them insufficiently loyal to Islam. It reinstated 1,160, but all are considered low-profile.

The ritual stoning of the "devil" by Muslim pilgrims in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, turned into a stampede for the third time in four years, with authorities saying 244 people were trampled to death. Another 244 were hurt. Despite a quota system, and mandatory registration for those participating the annual hajj, authorities said many of the victims were Saudis who were not authorized to be there. Above, a medic called to help the injured talks with colleagues on a portable radio.

The "father" of the nuclear program in Pakistan was fired from his cabinet post Saturday and ordered not to leave home while authorities decide whether to prosecute him and six colleagues for allegedly selling weapons secrets to Iran and Libya for personal profit. An investigation into the matter involving the allegations against Abdul Qadeer Khan began last November. He has denied guilt, and President Pervez Musharraf reportedly is under heavy domestic pressure to go easy on him.

The furor was growing rather than diminishing in Britain over last week's findings by a high-ranking judge excoriating the BBC for its reporting on government intelligence prior to the Iraq war. Although the findings absolved Prime Minister Blair's administration of blame in the matter - and despite the BBC's apology - majorities in two more opinion polls sided with the broadcaster and called for a new probe. Two of the three BBC personnel who resigned in the wake of the report also remained defiant, with one accusing Blair and his aides of intimidation tactics. And thousands of BBC staffers bought a full-page newspaper ad in support of their former colleagues.


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