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KABUL — Osama bin Laden and other militant leaders could be hiding in eastern Afghanistan, the commander of U.S. forces along a key stretch of the Pakistani border told The Associated Press on Monday. Col. Gary Cheek, who controls U.S. forces in 16 Afghan provinces, also said Taliban leaders appear to be losing control of a stubborn insurgency, three years after their ouster for harboring the al-Qaida leader.


VIENNA — An Austrian woman who shouted insulting remarks about Pope John Paul II outside Vienna's main cathedral was fined $325 after a court convicted her Monday of disturbing the peace. The 46-year-old Viennese woman, whose name was not released by authorities, repeatedly and loudly denounced the pope and other Roman Catholic leaders as "child molesters" while standing in front of St. Stephen's Cathedral in 2003.


SANTIAGO — The judge who indicted Gen. Augusto Pinochet on human rights charges and placed him under house arrest has approved bail for the aging former dictator, official said Monday. But Pinochet will remain confined to his country estate near Santiago until the Court of Appeals rules on Judge Juan Guzman's $3,500 bail bond order.


KINSHASA — Security forces fired bullets and tear gas Monday at demonstrators burning tires in Congo's capital, killing at least three people among thousands protesting a government decision to delay upcoming national elections, a Congolese human rights group said.


BANGALORE — A bus driver apparently lost control of his vehicle and it plunged into a canal, killing 57 people in southern India on Monday, police said.


BAGHDAD — A roadside bomb destroyed a second heavily armored Bradley Fighting Vehicle in less than a week Monday, killing two U.S. soldiers, wounding four others and indicating that insurgents have increased the power of the explosives they are using against American troops. The blast came hours after gunmen in a passing car assassinated Baghdad's deputy police chief and his son while they drove to work, part of a campaign to target Iraq's security forces.


JUBA — With a peace treaty in hand, President Omar el-Bashir began a triumphant tour of his country Monday, greeted by 10,000 mainly Christian revelers in this longtime southern garrison city, which his army once used to stage attacks against rebels during a 21-year civil war. Juba, about 750 miles south of the capital of Khartoum, was el-Bashir's first stop on a two-day tour to celebrate Sunday's landmark signing of the treaty to end the African continent's longest war.


KIEV — Ukraine's Election Commission late Monday declared Western-leaning reformer Viktor Yushchenko the winner of the presidential election over Kremlin-favored Viktor Yanukovych, whose camp immediately vowed to appeal the results to the Supreme Court. The commission announced that the final official tally of the Dec. 26 vote — which was a rerun of the Nov. 21 election that was annulled because of fraud — showed Yushchenko with 51.99 percent of the votes and Yanukovych with 44.2 percent.

Vatican City

Pope John Paul II put lobbying against gay marriage at the top of the Vatican's agenda for 2005 and also urged politicians in prosperous nations Monday to do more for the millions of hungry people around the globe. In a speech to the diplomats accredited to the Vatican, the ailing, 84-year-old pontiff laid out the Roman Catholic Church's priorities for the new year, making clear he intended to use his energies to tackle what he called "challenges of life" issues — abortion, cloning, gay marriage, assisted procreation and embryonic stem cell use.


HANOI — Human Rights Watch on Monday accused Vietnam of mass arrests and torture of ethnic minorities in the central part of the country and urged Cambodia to open its border and allow asylum-seeking tribal members to cross. In a report released Monday, the New York-based organization said police had rounded up and detained dozens of Montagnards — as the hill-tribe people are collectively known — in the weeks leading up to Christmas.