Palestinians Track, Kill Convicted Collaborators

GAZA CITY -- In dramatic daytime raids at Gaza City's largest hospital, Palestinian vigilantes on Monday killed two men convicted of collaborating with Israeli intelligence. The two were shot at close range hours after they were admitted for wounds suffered when a grenade exploded in their jail cell.

The two had confessed during their trials to helping Israeli forces kill two top Islamic militants.

The chain of events began just after sunrise in the central prison at Palestinian security headquarters. Two grenades exploded in a cell where convicted collaborators were being held, wounding seven. They were taken to Shifa Hospital, the city's main medical facility, where one died of his wounds.

Around noon, during a funeral for militants who had been killed in an overnight clash with Israeli forces, five masked gunmen left and raced into the hospital.

The five went straight to the room where Mahmoud Sharef, 52, was being treated for wounds from the grenade attack. They shot him twice in the head and killed him, and then fled the building. Police detained one militant for questioning.

Five hours later, it happened again.

At least 20 armed militants raced to the hospital in four vehicles, witnesses said. Most of the gunmen deployed on the street, closing it off, while five ran into the hospital.

Their destination was the intensive care unit, where Walid Hamdiyeh, 42, was being treated. They killed him with three shots to the head and chest and escaped.

In a statement, the Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas, asserted responsibility for the grenade attack and Hamdiyeh's killing.

ASIA

* KABUL, Afghanistan -- U.S. and allied troops backed by warplanes and helicopters fought dozens of militants in the biggest border clash along the mountainous Pakistani border in months. At least two militants and two Afghan soldiers were killed.

Separately, an Afghan soldier was reported killed when gunmen ambushed his vehicle in southern Afghanistan on Sunday as he returned from guarding officials who were registering voters.

* DHAKA, Bangladesh -- Emergency medical teams in India and Bangladesh battled Monday to save thousands of people who became ill after drinking polluted water and rotted food as South Asia's worst floods in 15 years eased after the deaths of more than 1,350 people.

Nearly 5,000 medical teams fanned out across Bangladesh, many in boats, to try to contain diseases as floodwaters receded after submerging two-thirds of the impoverished country for the past month.

* NEW DELHI -- India and Pakistan will open two days of talks on Tuesday to promote greater people-to-people contact, a rare instance of success in efforts to end decades of hostility between the nuclear-armed neighbors.

Social relations warmed this year after thousands of Indians traveled to Pakistan to watch their cricket team tour there. The talks in New Delhi will aim to build on that goodwill, but analysts say progress may be slow because of continuing tension over the region of Kashmir.

AFRICA

* ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast -- A U.N. team has found three mass graves with nearly 100 bodies from a firefight last month between rebel factions, U.N. officials said. Rebel spokesmen had previously said only 22 died at Korhogo during the June 20-21 fight between supporters of two rival insurgent leaders.

* RABAT, Morocco -- The United States has handed over five Moroccans arrested in Afghanistan and detained at the naval prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The five will face a police investigation, the country's official news agency reported.

THE MIDDLE EAST

* JERUSALEM -- An Israeli businessman, released from captivity by the Lebanese Hezbollah militia in a deal that won the release of 400 Arab prisoners in Israeli jails, will not be put on trial despite allegations of illegal meetings with Arabs and drug dealing, an official said.

Elhanan Tannenbaum was returned to Israel along with the bodies of three Israeli soldiers on Jan. 29 in exchange for 400 Arab prisoners and the remains of 59 others. Under a deal with prosecutors, Tannenbaum was not to be charged if he told investigators the full story of the trip that landed him in captivity.

EUROPE

* GIBRALTAR -- British Defense Secretary Geoffrey Hoon went ahead with a visit to Gibraltar despite protests from the Spanish government. Hoon will take part in celebrations to mark the 300th anniversary of the seizure of the tiny territory on the southern Spanish coast.

-- From News Services