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World datelines


KANDAHAR — More than 100 Afghan soldiers raided a rebel hideout in a remote mountainous region in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday, sparking a shootout that left three suspected Taliban dead, an Afghan commander said.


BOGOTA — A massive U.S.-financed fumigation campaign of cocaine-producing crops has hit Colombia's illicit drug industry hard, cutting coca cultivation by one-third in seven months, a U.N. report said Wednesday.


COPENHAGEN — A car exploded outside a suburban Copenhagen hospital on Wednesday, killing at least one person, police said.


PARIS — Employees at the French news agency Agence France-Presse began a 24-hour strike Wednesday to protest a management plan to sell and lease back their headquarters in central Paris.


BERLIN — Authorities have arrested another youth in the foiled plot to bomb the opening ceremony of a new synagogue in Munich, federal prosecutors said Wednesday. Eleven people, including a well-known neo-Nazi, Martin Wiese, have been arrested in the past week for the alleged plot to bomb the Nov. 9 ceremony.


QOM — In his first public speech in six years, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, Iran's leading dissident cleric, criticized the country's hard-line Islamic leaders Wednesday, saying they should submit to elections and allow the country's young people to choose their future.


NAJAF — The training of a U.S.-backed, 400-strong police force set up to protect an important Shiite Muslim shrine in this holy city will be completed next week when the final batch of cadets finish their basic training course, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials. The force, officially called the "Shrine Police Force," was conceived after a failed attempt on the life of a senior Shiite cleric in Najaf.


DUBLIN — Ireland should not follow New York's lead and ban smoking in all workplaces, Rudolph Giuliani said Wednesday. The former New York mayor said the recent decision of his successor, Michael Bloomberg, to prohibit smoking in restaurants and bars wasn't fair to smokers.


RAMALLAH, West Bank — Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat offered a new truce to Israel on Wednesday, after Palestinian officials said the militant group Hamas has signaled it might agree to stop attacking Israelis. There was no immediate comment from Israeli leaders, but the government said Tuesday it wanted to see the Palestinian Authority begin disarming Hamas and other militant groups before it would consider a new truce.


TOKYO — North Korea accused Japan on Wednesday of plotting "aggression" and blamed it for souring relations a year after a historic summit that some saw as a step toward ending a decades-old Cold War rivalry.

Northern Ireland

BELFAST — Irish Republican Army dissidents on Wednesday threatened to kill the senior Catholic on a civilian board overseeing the reform of the predominantly Protestant police force in Northern Ireland.


ST. PETERSBURG — The newest arrival at a Russian prison for men was a female — a baby girl born to the wife of an inmate during a visit to the lockup. Anna Vladimirova, 29, called for help after speaking to her common-law husband Georgy Kochetov through a glass window and gave birth about 30 minutes later, said Alexander Zhitinyov, the head of the overcrowded Kresty pre-trial detention center in downtown St. Petersburg.


STOCKHOLM — Swedish police used DNA testing in hopes of linking a 35-year-old drifter now in custody to the slaying of Foreign Minister Anna Lindh. But they said Wednesday he wasn't the only suspect and they were seeking at least five more people.


HARARE — Police rounded up about 100 people in Zimbabwe on Wednesday for demonstrating against a government crackdown on dissent that has closed the nation's only independent daily newspaper. Three of those arrested were photojournalists.