Prince Albert takes over for father in Monaco

MONACO - Prince Albert has taken over the regency of Monaco because his ailing father, Prince Rainier III, is unable to exercise his royal functions, the palace said Thursday.

The announcement was made in a brief statement from the palace, which gave no updates on the health of the 81-year-old Rainier, who is being treated in hospital for breathing, kidney and heart problems.

Abbas orders crackdown on Ramallah militants

RAMALLAH, West Bank - Mahmoud Abbas ordered a crackdown on militants in the West Bank town of Ramallah on Thursday after gunmen fired at his compound in an escalation of tensions over the Palestinian leader's efforts to establish his control.

But a Palestinian security official and a militant said authorities had quickly backed down, agreeing to a compromise that would return many of the militants to their old units with a one-rank demotion.

Ukrainian leader closing in on poisoning culprit

KIEV, Ukraine - President Viktor Yushchenko said Thursday that investigators are closing in on those who poisoned him with a massive dose of the industrial pollutant dioxin during last fall's campaign, and that the suspects served in the highest circles of the government of his predecessor, Leonid Kuchma.

Two car bombers kill themselves, eight in Iraq

BAGHDAD, Iraq - A suicide bomber blew up his car Thursday south of Kirkuk, killing two Iraqi army soldiers and three bystanders, and a second car bomber attacked a joint U.S.-Iraqi patrol in the center of Samarra, killing three people and injuring more than a dozen others, hospital officials said.

The suicide bomber in Samarra, north of Baghdad, rammed a car into an American Humvee in the city center, police official Qasim Omar said. There were no U.S. casualties, the U.S. military said.

Pope running high fever from urinary infection

VATICAN CITY - Pope John Paul II developed a high fever Thursday because of a urinary tract infection and was being treated with antibiotics at the Vatican, his spokesman said. The latest health setback for the 84-year-old pontiff came one day after he began receiving nutrition through a feeding tube.

There were reports that the pope received the sacrament of the anointing of the sick - what used to be called the last rites.

- From wire reports