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Guard, 20 Others Arrested After Baghdad Shooting

A security guard along with 20 other people who had been riding in a truck were arrested on Monday after the guard shot a teenage girl in central Baghdad, witnesses and an Iraqi army sergeant said. The guard, whose nationality was not immediately known, wounded the girl, who is 18, in the leg as she crossed the street in the bustling, mixed neighborhood of Karada around noon, according to witnesses.

The shooting spawned numerous and conflicting accounts over what exactly took place. Initial reports suggested that two American security guards had been arrested, but a civilian U.S. official in Baghdad said it was not known whether American guards, or indeed any guards, had been detained. The official also said it was unclear whether the girl had been struck by a bullet or merely by an opening vehicle door. But a witness who ferried the girl to the hospital insisted that she had been shot.

The U.S. official also said it was not believed that any contractors with the State Department in Baghdad were involved.

Security companies hired by or affiliated with the State Department here have been under intense scrutiny since mid-September, when 17 Iraqi civilians were shot and killed by guards with one of those firms, Blackwater Worldwide. That shooting is under investigation by the FBI.

Halting Steps Taken To Frame Peace Talks

Israeli and Palestinian leaders made new efforts on Monday toward preparing a joint statement before an international peace gathering planned for next week, but some issues have yet to be resolved, Israeli and Palestinian officials said.

The Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, and the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, met at the prime minister’s residence here to try to salvage effortsto agree on a short written text.

The statement would be presented at the American-sponsored gathering tentatively scheduled for Nov. 26 and 27 in Annapolis, Md.

Miri Eisin, a spokeswoman for Olmert, said after the meeting that there appeared to be progress and “enough agreement on enough issues” to avert any sense of crisis.

Saeb Erekat, a Palestinian negotiator, said the leaders had exchanged new proposals. Are there differences remaining? Yes,“ he said.

Aides from both sides said the negotiating teams planned to continue working.

Suicide Attack Kills Seven But Spares Afghan Governor

A provincial governor in southwestern Afghanistan narrowly escaped a suicide attack on Monday, but his 25-year-old son and five of his bodyguards were killed in the blast. A civilian bystander was also killed, and 14 others were injured, police officials said.

The bomber approached the governor’s compound on foot on Monday morning just 10 minutes after the governor, Ghulam Dastagir Azad, had entered his office in the town of Zaranj, in Nimruz province. He detonated his charge in the street at the entrance to the compound, where the governor’s son was standing among a group of people, according to the provincial police chief, Muhammad Dawood Askaryar. He confirmed the death toll and said that of the injured, six were policemen, three were employees of the governor’s office and three were civilians.