DUSHANBE - Opposition fighters captured several dozen government soldiers in fighting that killed 21 people in this former Soviet republic, Tajik officials said.


KARACHI - Feuding factions of a minority ethnic party set cars and buses on fire, shutting down Pakistan's largest city to protest the killing of their members this week.


TOKYO - A pair of high-tech American-made aircraft arrived at their new home on an air base in central Japan, ready to assist U.S. forces in case of trouble in the region.

Saudi Arabia

DUBAI - About 600,000 Muslims have arrived in Saudi Arabia from all over the world to perform the annual hajj pilgrimage. The pilgrimage will reach a climax in the first week of April.

New Zealand

WELLINGTON - The country could face problems maintaining its defense capability if spending was not increased, Australian Defence Minister Ian McLachlan said.


BANGKOK - Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai warned pro-Myanmar (pro-Burmese) guerrillas that Thailand would use military force to repulse any further violations of its western border.

Sri Lanka

COLOMBO - A man charged with theft threw a plastic bag filled with human feces at policemen, but it hit a fan and showered the entire court, court officials said.


ANKARA - Deputy prime minister Bulent Ecevit said the government wanted to push through reforms before considering the option of early polls sought by a key opposition leftist.


BUCHAREST - Authorities ordered an investigation into charges by German prosecutors that Romanian embassy staff in Bonn had provided forged documents to a ring of pickpockets.


TAIPEI - Taiwan's top China policymaker, Chang King-yuh, voiced frustration over a 32-month deadlock in talks with the island's communist rival, saying ties would not improve if they were not even on speaking terms.


BEIJING - Three Chinese prosecutors who tortured a prisoner with boiling water and beat him to death with electric batons, their fists and rubber truncheons have received jail terms ranging from 12 to 15 years, an official newspaper said.


BOGOTA - The government has agreed to work with a major rebel group to prepare for peace talks in June, a leading government peace negotiator has confirmed.


BORDEAUX - The wife of war crimes suspect Maurice Papon died Wednesday, two days before an expected verdict in his case. Papon's lawyers said they would ask for a postponement.


BRUSSELS - Eleven European Union nations were declared fit to launch a single currency that the bloc hopes will guarantee Europe its place among the world's greatest economic powers.


HAVANA - The Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Denzil Douglas, began a week-long visit to Cuba in a further sign of Havana's strengthening ties with its Caribbean neighbors.