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EDITIONS
 Sunday, 15 December, 2002, 17:19 GMT
2002 in focus
A look back at the major world stories of 2002, the year in which UN weapons inspectors finally returned to Iraq. More than 180 people were killed in a bomb blast in Bali and Russian special forces stormed a Moscow theatre where Chechen rebels had been holding hundreds hostage.


'Axis of Evil'
US President George W Bush
Mr Bush accused Iran, Iraq and North Korea of supporting terrorism
During his State of the Union address on 29 January, US President Bush labels Iraq, Iran and North Korea as countries forming an "axis of evil". The comments are later condemned by those singled out and by critics of Bush's foreign policy.




Zimbabwe elections
Re-elected President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe
President Mugabe promised to speed up his land reform programme
On March 13, Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe wins a fifth term in office amid accusations of ballot irregularities. He defeats rival Morgan Tsvangirai by a substantial margin in an election described by foreign observers as deeply flawed and unjust.



Kashmir crisis
The launching of the Ghauri missile
Pakistan successfully tested the ballistic missile over a range of 900 miles
On 25 May, Pakistan carries out a series of tests on its new medium range ballistic missile. It comes amid growing concern over the potential for war with neighbouring India over the disputed region of Kashmir. The tension eased after intense diplomatic efforts by the US and Britain.



Afghanistan
Turkish troops
Britain led Isaf for six months before handing over to Turkey
On June 20, British troops officially hand over command of the International Security and Assistance Force (Isaf) in Afghanistan to Turkey. It comes after the swearing in of Hamid Karzai as president at a meeting of Afghanistan's loya jirga, or grand council.



Bali bombing
An Indonesian police officer surveys the ruins of the Bali bombing
Indonesia immediately blamed al-Qaeda terrorists for the attack
On 12 October, a bomb explodes outside a packed nightclub in the Balinese beach resort of Kuta. More than 180 people, many of them tourists, are killed in the attack. A national day of mourning is declared in Australia, the home of many of the foreign victims.




Middle East
An Israeli tank
Violence in the Middle East continued unabated
In another turbulent year, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is confined to his compound by Israeli troops. Meanwhile Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is re-elected leader by his Likud party, but is forced to call early elections for January 2003 after the collapse of his ruling coalition.

On 21 October, in one of many such attacks, an explosion rips through a bus in Northern Israel killing at least 15 people.


On July 5, the BBC airs video footage which appears to show an incident in the West Bank city of Jenin in which two Palestinian children were killed by Israeli tank fire.



Washington sniper
US police checking a vehicle
Police swooped following a tip-off
On October 24, US police arrest two men they believe are responsible for the deaths of 10 people shot dead in the Washington area during a three-week-long shooting spree. John Allen Muhammad, 41, and John Lee Malvo, 17, are due to stand trial in 2003.



Moscow theatre siege
A hostage is evacuated from the theatre
More than 100 hostages were killed by the gas pumped into the theatre
On 26 October, Russian special forces storm the Moscow theatre where Chechen rebels had been holding hundreds of people hostage. Troops release nerve gas into the complex to subdue the rebels before storming it. All 40 hostage-takers were killed along with 120 of their captives.



US mid-term elections
US President George W Bush
The mid-term result was a personal triumph for Mr Bush
On 5 November, Republicans win control of the US Senate and retain their House majority in the mid-term elections. The sweep means President George W Bush should find it easier to push through his legislative agenda.



African famine warning
People in the famine-threatened Ethiopian village of Dir Sakar
The Red Cross renewed an appeal for aid to help the people of Ethiopia
On 11 November, Ethiopia's Prime Minister Meles Zenawi warns his country faces a famine worse than that of 1984, which killed nearly one million people. Africa as a whole is in crisis, with the UN food agency estimating hunger threatens 38 million people.



Iraq conflict
UN weapons inspectors' vehicle
Weapons inspectors finally get back to work
On 18 November, UN weapons inspectors return to Iraq for the first time in four years. Baghdad agreed to the terms of a new security council resolution, after US President George W Bush warned military action would be unavoidable if Saddam Hussein did not comply.



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