THE MIDDLE EAST

Gunmen Kill Four in Lebanese Courtroom

SIDON, Lebanon -- Gunmen opened fire in a courtroom, killing three judges and the prosecutor, security officials and witnesses said. Five others were wounded.

At least two gunmen shot into the courtroom through the windows before retreating toward the beach, leaving behind two AK-47 assault rifles and a grenade launcher, officials said. About 30 empty cartridges were found at the scene.

Officials said it was too early to speculate on a motive for the unprecedented attack on the judiciary. Only in recent years have court activities fully resumed after a long absence during the 1975-90 civil war.

Iraq Reports One Death in Western Raids

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- U.S. and British airstrikes in northern Iraq killed an Iraqi civilian, according to the official Iraqi news agency.

A statement issued by the U.S. military in Turkey said the warplanes struck military communications facilities that were being used to relay information about American and British aircraft to Iraqi anti-aircraft units.

Jerusalem Mayor Seeks to Head Likud

JERUSALEM -- Tossing barbs at outgoing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert announced that he is seeking the leadership of the right-wing Likud party, whose power was nearly halved in May elections.

Olmert presented himself as a moderate candidate who would try to bring Likud into a coalition government with Prime Minister-elect Ehud Barak and his Labor Party.

Netanyahu had resigned as Likud leader shortly after television exit polls predicted a decisive Barak victory.

ASIA

South Korean, North Korean Vessels Collide

SEOUL -- A South Korean naval ship collided with a North Korean patrol boat today during a tense armed standoff in the Yellow Sea, South Korea's Defense Ministry said.

The accident off South Korea's west coast caused only slight damage to each ship and did not result in an exchange of fire, the ministry said. The collision occurred while eight South Korean navy ships were trying to force six North Korean patrol boats out of South Korean waters for the second time in two days, it said. The North Korean patrol boats appeared to be guarding a number of northern fishing vessels operating in the area, it said.

The area is a rich crab fishing ground controlled by South Korea. Seoul officials said North Korean patrol boats intruded into the area 20 to 30 times a year in the past, but usually withdrew when challenged by South Korean navy ships.

India and Pakistan Agree to Hold Talks

NEW DELHI India and Pakistan agreed yesterday to hold high-level talks about Kashmir on Saturday, but India insisted it would not halt airstrikes close to the line dividing the disputed territory. As diplomatic efforts gained momentum, artillery and mortar fire spread along the Kashmir line of control to sectors well south of the strategic high ground where Indian troops and warplanes have been trying since late May to dislodge a heavily armed, dug-in guerrilla force. India says the force infiltrated Indian territory high in the Himalayas and is composed primarily of Pakistani army troops. Pakistan says the fighting is part of a local revolt.

EUROPE

Russia Moves Toward Abandoning Mir

MOSCOW -- Russia's space agency confirmed that the Mir space station would be left unmanned following its crew's departure in August, the first step toward discarding it early next year.

By leaving it empty instead of abandoning it, Russian space officials are putting off the painful moment of parting with the Mir -- the last symbol of the nation's space glory. Last week, 31 leading Russian space designers suggested that the station continue orbiting unmanned until next February or March.

Croatia to Hand Over War Crimes Suspect

ZAGREB, Croatia -- Croatia decided to hand over Bosnian Croat Vinko "Stela" Martinovic to a United Nations criminal tribunal in The Hague for trial on war crimes charges.

"The county court council has decided to meet the request of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia to hand over indictee Vinko Martinovic. . . . It has decided to allow his extradition," a court statement said.

The decision followed months of intense Western pressure on Zagreb to hand over Martinovic, 35, and another former Bosnian Croat warlord, Mladen Naletilic Tuta. The two had run Croat militia units accused of ethnic cleansing of Muslims in southern Bosnia during the 1992-95 war.

Pope Sounds Warning on Capitalism

ELK, Poland -- Pope John Paul II, worried about the negative consequences of Poland's post-communist economic miracle, told his compatriots they should not turn their backs on those left behind by capitalism.

"Development and economic progress must never be at the expense of men and women, hindering the meeting of their fundamental needs," the pope told a crowd of some 250,000 people gathered on a riverside in this city in northeast Poland.

The pope, on the fourth day of his long trip home, was in one of Poland's poorest regions, where unemployment is about 20 percent, compared with a national average of about 11.

Belgium Prepares to Lift Food Restrictions

LUXEMBOURG -- Belgium accused the world of overreacting to its tainted food scandal and prepared to lift restrictions on most of the foods it had pulled off the shelves.

But the European Union continued to call for further steps to contain the crisis, and retained its ban on all products made with Belgian poultry, eggs, pork and beef. Many other countries maintained wholesale bans on such products from across the EU.

THE AMERICAS

Murder of Mexican Star Stirs Popular Rage

MEXICO CITY -- The fatal shooting of a television star has galvanized popular outrage over crime in Mexico.

The motive for the slaying of Francisco "Paco" Stanley -- known as Mexico's Johnny Carson -- remained a mystery. Its professional style made it atypical of murders in the Mexican capital, where citizens have long been terrorized by taxicab kidnappings, armed robberies and carjackings.

But the fame of the victim and the brazenness of the noontime attack shocked many Mexicans and prompted some to attack the city's opposition party mayor, a candidate for president.

Half of Argentina's Children Live in Poverty

BUENOS AIRES -- Nearly half of Argentina's children younger than 14 live in poverty despite the nation's strong economic growth in recent years, government officials said.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"Now we'll pay. The [guerrillas] will be back, and our things will be burned."

A Serbian retiree named Goran, on what will happen to Serbs in Kosovo when ethnic Albanians expelled from the province return. -- Page A1