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World datelines


KABUL — Heavy fighting in southern Afghanistan between Taliban fighters and Afghan police forces left three policemen and at least six Taliban militants dead, Afghan officials said Friday. U.S.-led coalition forces and the Afghan army were also drawn into the fighting, providing air support and ground troops in the battle that began Thursday night and lasted through most of Friday, a U.S. Army spokesman said.


SYDNEY — An inquiry will examine whether Australia's government knew the country's main wheat exporter paid hundreds of millions of dollars in kickbacks into Saddam Hussein's coffers under the U.N. oil-for-food program, the head of the investigation said Friday.


SARAJEVO — A Bosnian Serb war-crimes suspect who was captured last month in a shootout that killed his wife and wounded his son was released from custody Friday.


TORONTO — An arrest warrant has been issued for a retired Vatican official accused of sexually abusing a 12-year-old altar boy when he was a parish priest back in his native Canada, police said Friday.


MUNICH — Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld was upbeat Friday on the prospect of warm relations with the new government in Berlin ahead of an international security conference that has been the scene of trans-Atlantic tension in recent years.


VIENNA, Austria — Iran moved closer to referral to the U.N. Security Council over its atomic program Friday, but a U.S.-Egyptian dispute about linking the issue to a Middle East nuclear-free zone — and indirectly to Israel — threatened to delay a decision.


One Italian city's government shut down its computers as a precaution but a file-destroying computer worm otherwise caused relatively little damage when it triggered worldwide Friday. Hundreds of thousands of computers were believed to be infected, but many companies and individuals had time to clean up their machines this week after security vendors and media outlets warned of the "Kama Sutra" worm.

ROME — New DNA analysis indicates that a 5,000-year-old mummy found frozen in the Italian Alps may have been sterile — a hypothesis that would support the theory that he may have been a social outcast, officials said Friday.


MEXICO CITY — Mexican authorities captured a reputed drug kingpin wanted in the United States on cocaine trafficking and money-laundering charges, and ranked among the world's most-wanted fugitives, officials said Friday. Oscar Arriola Marquez, leader of the Arriola Marquez cartel, was arrested Thursday in the northern state of Coahuila, Attorney General Daniel Cabeza de Vaca said.


KALANCH WALA — An express train derailed near a remote village in central Pakistan before dawn Saturday, killing one woman and injuring 27 people, police and railway officials said. About 700 people were on the train when 11 of its 14 cars went off the tracks at 3:15 a.m. near Kalanch Wala, said Arif Nawaz, an area police chief.


MANILA — A stampede broke out early Saturday outside a stadium near Manila where tens of thousands of people had lined up to watch a popular game show, and at least 88 members of the crowd were killed, an official said. About 30,000 people were waiting to get inside the stadium to watch the show when the mayhem erupted, said Vicente Eusebio, the mayor of Pasig.


MOSCOW — A Russian activist who has campaigned against rights abuses in Chechnya was convicted Friday of inciting ethnic hatred — a verdict he condemned as part of a state assault on non-governmental organizations.

United Nations

The Security Council Friday authorized planning for the expected U.N. takeover of peacekeeping operations in Sudan's conflict-wracked Darfur region. A council statement asked Secretary-General Kofi Annan "to initiate contingency planning without delay" with the African Union for a possible transition to a U.N. operation.