Around the world

CANCER FIGHT: Cheered on by Italians who favor alternative cancer treatments, Pope John Paul II called Sunday for united efforts to prevent and fight the disease. A crowd of cancer patients and their families gathered for the pope's traditional Sunday noon appearance at a window on St. Peter's Square. They included supporters of an 85-year-old Italian doctor, Luigi De Bella, who for years dispensed an untested mix of hormones and vitamins as treatment for tumors. Some critics in the medical establishment have branded him a charlatan. But the health ministry agreed last month to conduct clinical trials of his treatment.

SUSPECTS ARRESTED: Investigators have arrested four or five suspects in an assassination attempt on Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze and are conducting a nationwide manhunt for two others, authorities said Sunday. Shevardnadze went on Georgian television to charge that last week's attempt on his life was carried out by followers of former President Zviad Gamsakhurdia. The announcement left many questions unanswered, including the motive for the attack, exactly how many people were arrested, when they were arrested and who they are.

RELIEF ARRIVES: The leader of the military alliance that controls northern Afghanistan visited a remote region devastated by a Feb. 4 quake and appealed Sunday for more help for stranded survivors. Burhanuddin Rabbani arrived in Rustaq, a town in the heart of the worst-hit region, in one of three helicopters delivering blankets, food and plastic sheeting to areas inaccessible by road because of quake damage, snow and mud. It was the first aid to reach some villagers since the 6.1-magnitude quake, which crumbled entire towns and killed more than 5,000 people. Thousands more are missing.

Across the nation

EVIDENCE LOST? Authorities reportedly have lost evidence in the murder investigation of JonBenet Ramsey, forcing them to retrace their steps. Detectives have told friends of the Ramseys they no longer have evidence from some interviews and palm prints that the friends had given earlier, the Rocky Mountain News reported Sunday. In one case, evidence from two interviews conducted the day after the 6-year-old's body was found on Dec. 26, 1996, was missing just two weeks later, sources told the News. The paper did not specify whether the lost evidence was tapes or written notes from the interviews.

NO SIGN OF SUSPECT: Federal agents cruised around rural mountain roads in western North Carolina Sunday in their continuing search for the suspect in the nation's first fatal bombing of an abortion clinic. A federal arrest warrant was issued Saturday for Eric Robert Rudolph, whose truck was spotted outside the New Woman All Women Clinic in Birmingham, Ala., on the morning of the bombing. He had previously been wanted only as a witness to the Jan. 29 bombing, which killed an off-duty police officer working as a security guard and critically injured a nurse. Investigators say they believe Rudolph, a 31-year-old former soldier who last lived in Murphy, N.C., is still in the area.

In other news . . .

RAIN FELL across the lower Mississippi Valley and Gulf Coast on Sunday, and snow was scattered through the Rockies. Rain-soaked California got a break between storms.. . . ITALIAN DOCTORS have issued a nationwide warning about a prostitute who allegedly had unprotected sex with thousands of people, while knowing she had the virus that causes AIDS.. . . TAIWAN'S MAIN opposition party agreed Sunday to push for talks with China but affirmed its position that the island is independent.. . . NORTH KOREAN officials marking leader Kim Jong Il's 56th birthday urged a hunger-stricken population Sunday to join efforts to rebuild their tattered economy.