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Terrorists escalated their attacks across Iraq Thursday in an apparent bid to undercut the first anniversary of the start of the war to topple Saddam Hussein's regime. From Basra in the south to Fallujah and Baquba in the "Sunni Triangle," car bombs, mortar fire, and drive-by shootings killed at least nine people, two of them US soldiers. A US Army helicopter also was reported down near Fallujah, perhaps by a rocket launched from the ground. The violence followed Wednesday's car bomb explosion outside a Baghdad hotel that left it and adjacent buildings in ruins and killed seven people.

Twenty-four pages of documents were released by Spain's outgoing government to refute claims that it lied by insisting last week's terrorism in Madrid was the work of Basque radicals. The move came as police arrested four more suspects in the attacks, bringing the total to 10. Meanwhile, the Muslim radical group that claimed responsibility for the bombings declared a "truce" to give the incoming government time to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq. It also taunted other US allies in the war, declaring: "The brigades of death are at your door. Whose turn will be next?"

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NATO rushed reinforcements to Kosovo as violence between Albanians and Serbs there extended into a second day. In Mitrovia, where it began, Albanians dodged rubber bullets and tear gas to set an Orthodox church on fire, and in the town of Obilich another church and more than a dozen Serb homes were reported burning. In retaliation, Serbs were torching Muslim mosques. Twenty-two people died in Mitrovica and hundreds of others were hurt in Wednesday's clashes.

Allegations of a bribery scandal threatened to affect President Chen Shui-bian's reelection prospects Saturday in Taiwan. Chen appeared to corroborate some of a fugitive tycoon's claims that he was present as the latter handed $180,000 in "political donations" to Chen's wife in 1994 and 1998. Chen said the payments were legal. He already faces a stiff challenge from opposition contender Lien Chan, who finished third in the 2000 election. Saturday's outcome appears too close to call.

The force of international peacekeepers in Haiti swelled by 2,600 as Canada sent more troops to join the campaign to disarm opponents and supporters of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Haiti's interim government also said it will set up a commission to study rebuilding the Army, disbanded by Aristide in 1995, to help in the disarmament effort. Aristide, vacationing in Jamaica, said he'd do nothing "that could hinder the process of peace in my beloved country" as long as he is a guest of the Kingston government.


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