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New fighting between US marines and terrorists erupted in Fallujah, Iraq, even as the first of thousands of residents who fled last month's offensive there were returning home. A military spokesman said both sides had taken casualties. The November offensive resulted in what US commanders said was a tactical victory. But pockets of resistence still have not completely been eliminated. Meanwhile, US authorities said they now believe the explosion that killed 22 people in a food tent this week in Mosul was caused by a terrorist bomber who may have acted on the basis of inside information.

Saying, "The door is open; the only thing left for us is to step over the threshold," opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko rallied supporters to go to the polls Sunday in Ukraine's second presidential runoff election. But Yushchenko also warned of an unspecified plot to disrupt the balloting by "some forces ... who are readying to come to Kiev," the capital. His opponent, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, has claimed that even if Yushchenko wins the unprecedented, court-ordered third round of voting, he'll never be accepted as president of all Ukrainians.

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Hundreds of schools closed across southern Thailand, with their teachers vowing not to return until the national government provides adequate security. More than 500 people have died in the region this year since militant Islamists rekindled a dormant campaign for separation from the Buddhist-dominated rest of the country. The senior security adviser to Prime Minister Thaksin Shina-watra told the Associated Press that documents seized from the home of a fugitive Islamist leader describe plans for terrorist attacks on tourist resorts nationwide next year.

Farmers, many of them poor blacks resettled on land previously owned by whites, are so far behind in planting next year's crops in Zimbabwe that the harvest is threatened, the Agriculture Ministry warned. It blamed the slow pace on shortages of fertilizer, tractors, and fuel and urged farmers to step up manual labor to compensate. Only one-quarter of Zimbabwe's arable land is under cultivation, an official said, "and time is fast running out."


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