THE MIDDLE EAST

2 Israeli Soldiers Killed in West Bank

JERUSALEM -- Two Palestinian gunmen attacked an army outpost in the West Bank early yesterday, killing two Israeli soldiers before troops fatally shot the attackers. In the Gaza Strip, fire from an Israeli helicopter killed two Palestinian nurses at a home for the elderly, and in northern Israel, police killed an Arab citizen after he stabbed an officer.

The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a militia linked to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a radical faction of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, said the attack on the Israeli post on Mount Gerizim, which overlooks the West Bank city of Nablus, was a joint effort.

In Gaza City, dozens of doctors, nurses and ambulance drivers dressed in white uniforms led a procession of more than 1,000 mourners at the funeral of the two Palestinian nursing home attendants killed by Israeli fire. Hospital officials said the two men were in the home at the time.

In northern Israel, an Arab man was shot and killed after he stabbed and lightly wounded a policeman and tried to steal another officer's gun, police spokesman Gil Kleiman said. The shooting occurred along a major road where security has been very high after Palestinians carried out several suicide bombings there during the past 28 months of Israeli-Palestinian fighting.

Associated Press

EUROPE

Islamic Centers in Germany Searched

BERLIN -- German authorities raided Islamic centers in two cities in a search for a militant group suspected of planning to attack an American target in Germany and having links to the Hamburg-based cell of the Sept. 11, 2001, suicide pilots.

Police held three men for questioning and searched Islamic centers in the western German cities of Muenster and Minden, as well as four other sites, federal prosecutors said in a statement. Two of the men are suspected of forming a group that planned attacks in Germany at the end of 2001 or the start of 2002, including an attack "on an American installation in the Frankfurt metropolitan area," they said. The third suspect was being investigated by federal prosecutors on suspicion he supported the Hamburg terror cell that included three of the suicide pilots, including Mohamed Atta.

Associated Press

AFRICA

Plot Against Mugabe Is Called a Fraud

HARARE, Zimbabwe -- A defense lawyer in the treason trial of Zimbabwe's opposition leader accused the key prosecution witness of setting up the case and taking $1 million from the government.

Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai and two senior party officials face a possible death penalty if convicted of plotting to kill President Robert Mugabe.

Tsvangirai's chief lawyer, George Bizos, attacked Ari Ben-Menashe, a Canada-based political consultant who had said he videotaped Tsvangirai discussing Mugabe's assassination and seeking help to stage a coup. Bizos said Ben-Menashe was an unreliable witness with a history of defrauding southern African governments.

Reuters