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KABUL — Suspected Taliban militants are threatening to cut off the nose of any Afghan who listens to music and any man who shaves his beard, the governor of a troubled eastern province said Monday. The actions are representative of a resurgence of the Taliban, which has been flexing its muscles in the country's south and east recently.


BOGOTA — In an operation closely monitored by Colombia's president, Alvaro Uribe, hundreds of troops on Monday swarmed over a towering coastal mountain range in northern Colombia searching for eight foreign tourists who were kidnapped on Friday. The kidnapping, believed to have been carried out by the country's largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, prompted authorities to mobilize 1,500 soldiers and nine helicopters to scour the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta range.


HAVANA — Democratic Sen. Max Baucus told President Fidel Castro he was concerned about the human rights situation in Cuba during a four-hour meeting that ended early Monday, members of the American delegation said. Baucus, the highest-ranking American official to visit Cuba since a March crackdown that put 75 dissidents behind bars, traveled to the island over the weekend with Republican Rep. Dennis Rehberg and a group of Montana farm leaders and foreign policy specialists.


PARIS — A French Cabinet member said Monday that the government had been stunned by the scope of devastation in an August heat wave that killed 11,435 people and suggested it couldn't be blamed for failing to save thousands of lives. The government has faced tough criticism from doctors, who say it didn't react fast enough when temperatures soared to 104 degrees and stayed there. Most of those who died were elderly and weak.


BISSAU — Army officers who led a bloodless coup in Guinea-Bissau met with political parties and civic groups Monday to discuss establishing a transitional government in the West African country. Guinea-Bissau's capital was calm Monday, one day after the military arrested elected President Kumba Yala, the increasingly erratic and unpopular leader of the former Portuguese colony.


FALLUJAH — Three assailants in Arab headdresses gunned down the police chief of a city west of Baghdad Monday in an ambush that underscored the perils for Iraqis who join U.S.-backed security forces. The motive for the slaying of Khaldiya's police chief, Col. Khedeir Mekhalef Ali, was not immediately clear.


DUBLIN — Public support is waning for the government's planned ban on smoking in all Irish workplaces, including pubs, a poll published Monday indicated. But Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said he was determined to follow New York City's lead and outlaw smoking in bars, restaurants and all other workplaces across Ireland starting in January.


ROME — Premier Silvio Berlusconi filed a $17 million slander lawsuit Monday against the head of Italy's largest opposition party over comments about an alleged kickback scandal, news reports said. The lawsuit centers on remarks last month by center-left opposition leader Piero Fassino, who has been accused of taking kickbacks in connection with the 1997 partial sale of Telekom Serbia to an Italian telecommunications giant. Fassino, who denies the charges, said "puppeteers" at the premier's office were behind the accusations.


NAIROBI — Gunmen burst into the home of a senior delegate to a constitutional convention and shot him to death, sparking allegations that political forces are trying to undermine an effort to overhaul Kenya's system of government.


MAGAS — A truck bomb exploded Monday outside a government security building near Chechnya, killing at least two people and underscoring Russia's vulnerability in the region just weeks before an election Moscow hopes will lead to peace.

Saudi Arabia

RIYADH — A fire broke out in a prison in the Saudi capital Monday, killing 67 inmates, a prison official said. A security official said initial reports suggest an electrical short-circuit may have started the blaze.