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Class back in session for Afghan girls

After years of being turned away at the schoolhouse gates, girls marched proudly at the head of the class Saturday at a ceremony here marking the start of school and the resumption of education for girls as well as boys in this country freeing itself from the Taliban's grim grip.

"A great day for Afghanistan," said interim Prime Minister Hamid Karzai after being showered with confetti by some of the female students. "Probably today was the happiest day for me personally here _ to see our children go to school and to see them happy."

Karzai choked back tears when he spoke of his joy at seeing the children going to school again in peace after nearly 24 years of war.

"Today we cry out of happiness," he said.

Classes opened at 3,000 primary schools across Afghanistan for an estimated 1.5-million to 2-million primary school children. Karzai proclaimed it a historic day that augured well for the future of the war-ravaged land.

$1-billion sought for N.Y. liability

WASHINGTON _ The Bush administration wants to provide up to $1-billion to shield New York City and scores of contractors against lawsuits stemming from the World Trade Center cleanup.

Insurers have refused to provide liability coverage to the city and companies working there, arguing that the risk associated with the cleanup is far too hard to measure.

That has left the city and the contractors exposed to a potential wave of lawsuits.

The $1-billion was part of a $21.5-billion aid package that President Bush outlined this month to help the city rebuild, a proposal that is now before Congress.

Authorities doubt anthrax link

Despite a Florida doctor's conclusion that he treated one of the Sept. 11 hijackers for anthrax, authorities remain doubtful the hijackers were responsible for a wave of anthrax-laced letters.

Christos Tsonas, a Fort Lauderdale physician, told investigators that one of the hijackers, Ahmed Al Haznawi, received treatment last June for a lesion on his leg. However, the Washington Post reported that a law enforcement source who has been involved in the investigation said investigators were not putting much stock in that linkage. The source, whom the Post did not identify, said investigators have known for months about the possibility Al Haznawi had been treated for anthrax.

MORE ON ANTHRAX: U.S. forces recently found evidence in Afghanistan that Osama bin Laden was trying to "get his hands on" anthrax or other biological weapons, said Gen. Tommy Franks, head of U.S. Central Command. American troops have found nothing to show that al-Qaida had succeeded in obtaining anthrax or making germ weapons, Franks said.

Elsewhere . . .

REMAINS FOUND: The remains of 10 people, including two firefighters, were recovered from the debris of the World Trade Center on Saturday. The discoveries followed the overnight removal of six other victims, four of them firefighters. The latest remains were found in the tightly compacted rubble from the south tower, the last part of the site to be excavated.

KING'S RETURN POSTPONED: The exiled Afghan king's return to his homeland was postponed until next month, the Italian government said. Ex-King Mohammed Zahir Shah, 87, had been expected to leave Rome on Monday. "The trip was postponed by the Italian government," the king's secretary, Hamid Sidig, said. "They have some logistical and technical concerns. We understand, and we are cooperating."

BIOTERRORISM: Eli Lilly and Co. will fund a government program to help scientists from other countries fight bioterrorism and the natural spread of infectious diseases. Twenty-eight scientists will train in Centers for Disease Control laboratories with U.S. researchers so they can better respond to outbreaks.

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