BAGHDAD, Iraq

Baghdad deputy governor killed

Militants kidnapped an American, a Nepalese and four Iraqi
guards in a bloody assault on their office in the capital
yesterday, and gunmen assassinated Baghdad’s deputy governor
in a drive-by shooting, new violence that came as voter
registration began for vital January elections.

West of the capital, U.S. troops clashed with Sunni insurgents,
and American artillery pounded suspected insurgent positions in
Fallujah, witnesses said.

U.S. forces are gearing up for a major offensive against
Fallujah, the strongest bastion of Sunni insurgents. The order to
launch what would likely be a bloody assault must come from Prime
Minister Ayad Allawi, who warned Sunday that his patience with
negotiations was thinning.

U.S. and Iraqi officials hope to curb the insurgency in time for
national elections by the end of January.

A handful of Iraqis showed up for the first day of voter
registration in central Baghdad yesterday. They refused to allow TV
cameras to film them for fear of future retaliation. To help
protect the voting, fresh American soldiers arrived in the capital
yesterday — reinforcements that push the total U.S. military
presence in Iraq to around 142,000, the highest level since the
summer of 2003.

KIEV, Ukraine

Runoff to decide presidential election

Ukraine’s furiously contested presidential election ended
in a dead heat yesterday, forcing a runoff between a pro-Russian
candidate and his reformist challenger. Thousands of demonstrators
in western Ukraine alleged fraud, and international monitors said
the country failed the test of democracy.

The runoff, set for Nov. 21, prolongs a campaign that has been
overshadowed by worries over irregularities. The vote is seen as
key to whether the former Soviet republic moves closer to the West
or to Russia. The winner will succeed outgoing President Leonid
Kuchma, who clamped down on opposition during his rule.

The United States had warned it may take punitive action if the
voting was marred by irregularities. Ukraine, which has a brigade
of troops in Iraq, has been one of the top recipients of U.S.
aid.

With 94.4 percent of precincts counted, pro-Kremlin Prime
Minister Viktor Yanukovych had 40.12 percent and top opposition
leader Viktor Yushchenko had 39.15 percent, the Central Election
Commission said, describing the tally as unofficial preliminary
results. The commission said turnout was around 75 percent but did
not say when a total vote count would be announced.

TEL AVIV, Israel

Juvenile suicide bomber kills three Israelis

A 16-year-old Palestinian laden with explosives blew himself up
yesterday in a crowded outdoor market in Tel Aviv, killing three
Israelis, wounding 32 and scattering body parts and blood-spattered
vegetables on the ground. The bomber’s mother said the
militants who dispatched him were “immoral.”

The attack tested Israel’s promise to show restraint
during the absence of the ailing Yasser Arafat. Palestinian leaders
— including Arafat — immediately condemned the attack,
the first since a Sept. 22 bombing in Jerusalem.

From a military hospital near Paris, the 75-year-old Arafat
“appealed to all Palestinian factions to commit to avoid
harming all Israeli civilians and he appealed to (Israeli Prime
Minister Ariel) Sharon to take similar initiatives to avoid harming
Palestinian civilians,” Arafat’s spokesman Nabil Abu
Rdeneh said.

LANGCHENGGANG, China

Police patrol Chinese town after deadly rioting

Police by the thousands patrolled this central Chinese town
yesterday and residents hunkered down in their homes after deadly
street fights between members of the country’s main ethnic
group and a Muslim minority. Minivans with loudspeakers strapped to
their roofs drove through the dirt roads of Langchenggang and
neighboring villages in Henan province, broadcasting appeals for
calm.

As many as 5,000 people fought with sticks and burned several
houses over the weekend in violence between Hui Muslims and members
of the Han ethnic majority, according to Langchenggang residents
interviewed by phone.

— Compiled from Daily wire reports

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