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World Datelines


KABUL — Afghans are being terrorized routinely — robbed, beaten, kidnapped and imprisoned — by gunmen working for faction leaders, local authorities and high-ranking officials whom the United States helped bring to power, an international human rights group said in a report to be released Tuesday. The 101-page report by Human Rights Watch was based on hundreds of interviews conducted in southeastern Afghanistan.


DHAKA — Bangladesh on Monday became the second nation to ban the current issue of Newsweek's international edition over an article on new interpretations of Islam's holy book. Authorities said the story contains "confusing and objectionable" information about the Quran. On Thursday, Pakistan's government banned the issue, calling the article an insult to Muslims. The Bangladeshi government said "it might hurt the religious sentiments of Muslims."


HAMILTON — Bermuda's premier resigned on Monday, blaming the decision on a narrow victory in last week's elections and "friendly fire" from within her party. Jennifer Smith, who quit as leader of the Progressive Labor Party on Sunday, will remain a member of Parliament.


LONDON — An investigation into the suicide of weapons adviser David Kelly will hold its first, preliminary hearing on Friday, the government said Monday. Lord Hutton, an appeals judge, is examining the circumstances leading to the death earlier this month of Kelly, who was at the center of a bitter dispute between the government and the British Broadcasting Corp.


PHNOM PENH — Prime Minister Hun Sen's party claimed victory Monday in general elections, saying it expects to win about 73 of the 123 seats in the National Assembly. Independent observers monitoring the count from Sunday's vote also indicated the Cambodian People's Party was on its way to another five-year term, which had been widely expected. Official results are due Aug. 8.


BOGOTA — Carlos Castano, chief of the paramilitaries that battled Colombia's rebel armies, has acknowledged his forces massacred civilians, extorted money and dealt drugs, but claimed those acts were "inevitable excesses" in a war to save the nation. As his United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia prepare to disband as part of a peace agreement, Castano sought to justify the outlawed right-wing militia's tactics.


JERUSALEM — Israel has given permanent resident status to the "Black Hebrews," a community of black Americans, some of whom have been in the country since 1969, the Interior Ministry said Monday. The government granted the new status to the group of about 2,000 American citizens, who followed Chicago bus driver Ben Ami Carter to the southern Israeli desert town of Dimona in the belief that they are descended from the 10 lost tribes of Israel.


TOKYO — President Bush phoned Japan's prime minister Monday to welcome parliament's vote to authorize sending Japanese troops to help in the policing and reconstruction of Iraq. Bush "expressed his respect" to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi for his leadership in ensuring the law's passage. Koizumi replied that the move was one aspect of his commitment to strengthening the Japan-U.S. alliance.


MANILA — For the Bush administration, the Philippines is seen as a beachhead for U.S. troops in the campaign against terror in Southeast Asia, and the mutiny by some 300 soldiers over the weekend seems unlikely to change Washington's warmth toward President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Trained as an economist and educated in the United States, she appears to be President Bush's favorite leader in the region. No other country in the region has received such personal attention.

The Vatican

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican hopes to rally public opposition to gay marriages in a worldwide campaign spurred by its alarm over growing legal acceptance of same-sex unions in Europe and North America. Pope John Paul II has been speaking out for months against legislative proposals to legalize same-sex marriages. But instructions to be released this week go a step further by outlining a course of action for politicians and other lay people to oppose extending the rights accorded to traditional couples.