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KABUL — The ruling Taliban movement vowed to complete the destruction of all statues, but it kept the world in suspense about the fate of two partly damaged giant Buddhas in central Bamiyan province.


BUJUMBURA — The army said it had regained full control of this capital city for the first time since ethnic Hutu rebels launched a major offensive 13 days ago.


HAMBURG — A court sentenced playboy extortionist Thomas Drach to 14 years in prison for the abduction in 1996 of tobacco mogul Jan Philip Reemtsma.


BUDAPEST — Tearing up parts of a main highway in northeastern Hungary has eased flooding of the Tisza River that forced up to 30,000 people to flee their homes, government officials said. The main road between the villages of Takos and Csaroda, near the Ukrainian border, was demolished in two places, letting floodwaters flow to low-lying areas, officials said.


TEHRAN — A court banned the conservative weekly "Harim" for insulting President Mohammad Khatami, the official IRNA news agency said. It said the newspaper had mocked the moderate president in an article called "the slogans of Mr. K" referring to his 1997 presidential campaign.


JERUSALEM — Police said they will bar a group of anti-Arab Jewish militants from celebrating at the West Bank grave of a U.S.-born doctor Baruch Goldstein who massacred 29 Palestinians in 1994.


BEIRUT — Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri said his cabinet had accelerated a crackdown on wasteful spending to create confidence in economic reforms and get international assistance.


MONROVIA — The government said it was prepared to "go the extra mile" to comply with United Nations demands and stave off the threat of an embargo on its diamond exports. The U.N. Security Council voted Wednesday to impose sanctions on Liberia in May unless the country stopped supporting Sierra Leone rebels.


KUALA LUMPUR — The government slammed the U.S. State Department's annual report on human rights, saying it was biased and Washington must put its own house in order before preaching to other nations.


MANILA — The government declared a ceasefire against communist rebels after a police officer held captive for 16 months by the guerrillas died from injuries sustained during a rescue attempt.

Saudi Arabia

MECCA — Bumper-to-bumper, buses and cars left this holy city as nearly 2 million Muslims ended a pilgrimage marred by the deaths of 35 pilgrims who were crushed or trampled during this year's rituals.


EDINBURGH — A Continental Airlines plane bound for New York with 140 passengers on board was forced to return to Glasgow airport for an emergency landing after smoke was detected in the hold, an airport spokeswoman said. There were no reports of injuries.

South Africa

JOHANNESBURG — A leopard attacked and killed a woman in Kruger National Park, a park official said. The victim was the wife of a park officer.


KIEV — The death toll in intense flooding in western Ukraine rose to five, while thousands of troops and residents in neighboring Hungary raced to pile up sandbags to protect sodden villages from further onslaughts of water.


CARACAS — President Hugo Chavez struck out at the nation's ranchers, saying he will limit how much land individuals can own and warning that anyone organizing a militia to defend against armed groups from Colombia will go to prison.