KABUL — Authorities pressed the pace of disarmament for Afghanistan's unruly militias Thursday, pledging to rid the country of heavy weapons in time for summer elections and extending demobilization programs to a former Taliban stronghold.


ZAGREB — Two retired Croat army generals headed to the Netherlands on Thursday to surrender to the U.N. war crimes tribunal on charges they participated in atrocities against Serb rebels in 1995. Gen. Ivan Cermak and Gen. Mladen Markac boarded an Amsterdam-bound commercial Croatia Airlines jetliner en route to The Hague, where they were scheduled to be arraigned before the U.N. court today.


CAIRO — Egypt has not considered sending troops into the Gaza Strip to enforce laws if Israel pulls out, but it will protect its own borders from any related violence, the foreign minister said Thursday.


GLOUCESTER — A gang of thieves has stolen more than 40 manhole covers in the southwestern English city of Gloucester, leaving dangerous holes in the streets, officials said Thursday.


BERLIN — The communist-era Palace of the Republic — once home to the rubber-stamp East German parliament — survived demolition for nearly a decade and a half after the Berlin Wall was pulled down and now has a new life as a cultural center. Organizers on Thursday inaugurated an exhibit of Chinese art inside the gutted former glory of East German architecture.


JAKARTA — Indonesia's powerful security minister said Thursday he was quitting after accusing President Megawati Sukarnoputri of sidelining him ahead of a landmark election in which they will be rival candidates. "I have sent a letter to the president in which I ask her permission to resign from the Cabinet," Security Minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told reporters.


LIMA — A convicted Peruvian terrorist who last year married Lori Berenson, an American serving a 20-year sentence for aiding leftist rebels, has been granted conjugal visiting rights at her Andean prison, he said Thursday.


MOSCOW — Swiss banks have frozen $5 billion in accounts belonging to Russia's richest man and his associates as part of Moscow's probe into alleged money laundering at the nation's largest oil company, an official said Thursday. The banks froze the accounts of 20 Russians — including Mikhail Khodorkovsky, former head of the Yukos oil company — at the request of Russia's Prosecutor General's Office, spokeswoman Natalya Vishnyakova told Russian media.

South Korea

SEOUL — Lawmakers loyal to President Roh Moo-hyun commandeered the National Assembly podium Thursday, physically blocking a vote in South Korea's first ever presidential impeachment bid. Angry opposition leaders vowed to try again today, while one Roh supporter doused himself with gasoline outside parliament and set himself ablaze in protest.


BANGKOK — A new case of bird flu has been discovered in Thailand, and more than 100 chickens were found dead in Japan, where initial tests came up negative for the disease, authorities said Thursday.

BANGKOK — Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge praised Thailand for helping Washington's war on terrorism as the country agreed to adopt a U.S.-promoted computer system that scans travel records for suspected terrorists.

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ISTANBUL — Two suspected Islamic militants who carried out the bomb attack on a Masonic lodge were identified Thursday as Turks, ending speculation that one of the assailants was Afghan. A waiter in the lodge's dining hall was killed in the attack Tuesday night. One of the two attackers died from the blast.


HARARE — Sixty-four suspected mercenaries allegedly hired to overthrow the government of oil-rich Equatorial Guinea will face charges in Zimbabwe, along with their three-man flight crew, the attorney general said Thursday.

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