Two Marines Are Killed

In Eastern Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Two U.S. Marines were killed and another was wounded in an attack in eastern Afghanistan, where troops are hunting Taliban and al Qaeda fighters, the U.S. military said Friday.

The deaths brought to at least 92 the number of American troops killed in or around Afghanistan since the start of the campaign that ousted the Taliban in late 2001, and came as insurgents are intensifying attacks ahead of national elections.

The clash occurred late Thursday in Kunar, a province on the border with Pakistan, said 1st Sgt. Dave Dyer, a military spokesman. The wounded Marine was in stable condition. None of the Marines was identified.

The Middle East

* SANAA, Yemen -- Yemen said 46 followers of an anti-U.S. Muslim "extremist" cleric had been killed and 35 wounded in clashes with security forces in a siege in a mountainous area of the Arab country.

An Interior Ministry statement, carried by the official Saba News Agency late Thursday, said 43 "rebel" supporters of cleric Hussein Houthi had also been arrested since clashes began last Sunday when police tried to arrest Houthi, a Shiite Muslim leader. Saba said six more men were arrested Friday.

Security and military forces were still surrounding Houthi and a "small number of deviant elements," the ministry said.

The statement did not mention any casualties among security forces, but security sources said seven policemen were killed and five wounded in the clashes in Sadah, 150 miles north of the capital, Sanaa.

* TEHRAN -- A gasoline tanker truck slammed into a row of packed buses, setting off fiery explosions that killed at least 71 people and injured 108 in southeastern Iran, officials said.

Many of the victims were burned alive because firefighting equipment had to arrive from Zahedan, about 70 miles away, said Heidar Ali Nouraei, the city's governor. The accident occurred late Thursday.

The Americas

* PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- The United Nations took command of a peacekeeping mission, relieving a U.S.-led force a day after Air France's director in the country was shot and killed.

The death of Didier Mortet was the latest in a rash of violence that poses a major challenge to the U.N. force that will help Haiti's U.S.-backed interim leaders stabilize the nation after President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was pushed from power on Feb. 29.

Although the official transfer was earlier this month, a Brazilian-led force of 6,700 troops and more than 1,000 international police assumed command Friday from a 3,600-member U.S.-led multinational force that included France, Canada and Chile.


* KABUL, Afghanistan -- An explosion hit a vehicle carrying female Afghan election workers in an eastern Afghanistan city on Saturday, killing at least one person and wounding 10, an Afghan official said.

Faizan, a spokesman for the governor of Nangahar province, said the explosion happened in Jalalabad after the vehicle had set off from a U.N. office to take the workers to voter registration sites in the province.

* TOKYO -- The Imperial Household Agency has asked Japan's news media to refrain from taking photographs of Crown Princess Masako and allow her a "peaceful environment" as she seeks to recover from a stress-induced illness.

Masako has received an outpouring of public sympathy -- and a flood of media coverage -- since her husband, Crown Prince Naruhito, suggested last month that unidentified palace officials were to blame for her ill health.

-- From News Services