Iraq army stages show of force

BAGHDAD - Iraqi soldiers rolled through a Shiite militia stronghold in Basra on Wednesday, drawing scattered bombs and bullets that wounded a camera operator for a U.S.-funded TV station and narrowly missed the commander of government troops in the city.

Followers of anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr accused the army of violating an Iranian-brokered agreement that ended last week's fighting, which erupted in Basra and quickly engulfed Baghdad and cities of the Shiite south.

Those complaints raised concern that fighting could flare again as the Iraqi government and Shiite militias maneuver for control of Basra.

France launches mission to help sick hostage

PARIS - France said Wednesday it is working with Spain and Switzerland to get medical help for Ingrid Betancourt, a former politician being held hostage by Colombian rebels.

According to her son, she may be within hours of death if she doesn't get a blood transfusion.

Betancourt - who is both French and Colombian - is among hundreds of hostages held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, but her release has become a cause celebre in France.

The former Colombian presidential candidate has been held in a jungle for more than six years.

Ahern's exit shocks Ireland

DUBLIN, Ireland - From the Cabinet table to the prime minister's favorite Dublin watering hole, Ireland heard the news of Bertie Ahern's resignation with stunned disbelief.

Ahern, Ireland's most popular leader for decades, briefed his Cabinet colleagues as normal Wednesday over breakfast coffee. He offered no hint of the bombshell that was the last item on his agenda.

When Ahern announced he would step down, the conference table fell into shocked silence.

Jury deliberations begin in inquest into Diana's death

LONDON - Eleven jurors began deliberating Wednesday about who, if anyone, was responsible for the death of Princess Diana - the subject of official investigations, books, documentaries and speculation for more than a decade.

The jury's first task is to decide whether French investigators got it right within days of her death on Aug. 31, 1997, when they concluded that her speeding driver, Henri Paul, was drunk.

The second issue is whether the paparazzi who chased the princess around Paris bear responsibility for her death and the death of her boyfriend Dodi Fayed.