Zimbabwe Cracks Down As Mugabe Celebrates JOHANNESBURG --Police in Zimbabwe banned demonstrations in parts of the capital of Harare on Wednesday to crack down on the opposition as President Robert Mugabe celebrated his 83rd birthday by vowing to stay in power.

Police issued a three-month ban on protests in two districts considered hotbeds of opposition support. On Sunday, officers arrested and beat up opposition party supporters who planned to demonstrate against deteriorating living conditions and plans by Mugabe to postpone presidential elections from 2008 to 2010.

AFRICA · ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia --More than 680 people have died in a suspected cholera outbreak in Ethiopia that has also affected neighboring countries, officials said. About 60,000 people have been infected.


· MOSCOW --New outbreaks of the H5N1 strain of bird flu are probably in Moscow and the surrounding provinces, the government veterinary service warned, as officials also confirmed the presence of the virus in a southern region of Russia. The virus has been traced to an animal market just outside Moscow.

· PARIS --French authorities ordered 17 Chileans to be tried in absentia over the disappearance of four French nationals during Chile's military dictatorship in the 1970s, a justice official said. The 17, including a former head of the Chilean secret police, are accused of kidnapping and torture between 1973 and 1975.

ASIA · JAKARTA, Indonesia --Fire broke out on an Indonesian passenger ferry before dawn Thursday, killing seven people, including two children, a navy official said.

The ferry was carrying 350 passengers from the capital, Jakarta, to Bangka island near Sumatra when the blaze started, Lt. Col. Hendra Pakan told Elshinta radio.

At least 210 passengers had been rescued, he said. The cause of the fire was unknown.

· NEW DELHI --The foreign ministers of India and Pakistan pledged Wednesday to fight terrorism together -- a break from the finger-pointing that has often marked the aftermath of attacks such as this week's bombing that killed 68 people on a train linking the two rivals.

India, however, ruled out the possibility of a joint investigation.


· RIYADH, Saudi Arabia --Saudi Arabia said seven Saudis held at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had arrived home after the United States freed them.

Anger over the treatment of Saudi detainees at Guantanamo has been high in the Gulf Arab state, a key U.S. ally. Two Saudis were among three prisoners who hanged themselves in June at the prison.

· JENIN, West Bank --Israeli troops fatally shot a West Bank leader of the Islamic Jihad militant group who was involved in an attempted bombing near Tel Aviv, the army said.

Mahmoud Abu Obeid, 24, was traveling in a car in the center of Jenin when undercover Israeli troops shot and killed him, Palestinian witnesses said.

Abu Obeid had fired in the air with an M-16 rifle and then pointed it at troops when they shot at him, said a commander in the Jenin area, Col. Hertzi Halevy.

Abu Obeid was wanted for recruiting a Palestinian from the Jenin area who was caught by Israeli security in Tel Aviv on Tuesday trying to carry out a suicide bombing, the army said. Abu Obeid also had supplied the bomber with the explosives, the army said.

· ISMAILIA, Egypt --Egyptian police sources said authorities caught a Palestinian man wearing a suicide belt after he entered Egypt through a tunnel on the Gaza border with plans to blow up Israelis in the Sinai region. The arrest on the Egyptian side of the border town of Rafah on Tuesday led them to two Palestinian alleged accomplices.

THE AMERICAS · BOGOTA, Colombia --Two clowns were shot and killed by an unidentified gunman during their performance in the eastern Colombian town of Cucuta, police said.

-- From News Services