Suicide bomber targets bus; two Americans killed

BAGHDAD, Iraq - A suicide bomber detonated hidden explosives on a small bus in Baghdad on Friday, killing at least five people, and two American soldiers died in separate attacks, authorities said.

One of the Americans died in a roadside bombing between the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi, while the other was killed by small arms fire in Ramadi, the U.S. military said.

The deaths raised to 1,912 the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq since the war began in 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

IRA ready to fully disarm, official says

DUBLIN, Ireland - The outlawed Irish Republican Army is ready to dispose of its stockpiled arms in a long-sought peace move, possibly within the next week, Sinn Fein and Irish government leaders said Friday after their first meeting in eight months.

On July 28, after years of diplomatic pressure from the British, Irish and U.S. governments, the IRA announced it had formally renounced violence for political purposes and would disarm fully in cooperation with John de Chastelain, a retired Canadian general.

Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, leaders of the IRA-linked Sinn Fein party, spent two hours discussing the still-secret IRA decisions and their consequences with Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern and senior Cabinet ministers.

McGuinness, who is to travel Tuesday to Washington to seek U.S. political backing for whatever IRA actions are revealed, said Sinn Fein left Ahern in no doubt that ''we are on the threshold of something very, very important.''

Conservatives fail to win over Greens in Germany elections

BERLIN - Opposition leader Angela Merkel failed Friday to persuade the Green Party to join talks on forming a coalition, closing another avenue for Germany to escape its post-election stalemate.

The center-right opposition edged Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats in the Sept. 18 parliamentary vote but fell short of a majority for its program of accelerated economic reforms and closer ties with Washington.

Truck of Hamas

militants, weapons explodes at rally

JEBALIYA, Gaza Strip - It was supposed to have been a joyous event.

Thousands of Palestinians waving the green flag of the Hamas militant group gathered at this impoverished Palestinian refugee camp - once a frequent battleground during Israeli-Palestinian violence - for a victory rally celebrating Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

Instead, the people of Jebaliya suffered yet again. A pickup truck filled with masked Hamas militants and homemade rockets exploded as children surrounded it, killing at least 10 Palestinians and wounding 85.

Fourteen suspected Taliban, one Afghan killed in fighting

KABUL, Afghanistan - U.S. and Afghan forces backed by helicopter gunships killed 14 suspected Taliban fighters in central Afghanistan in the heaviest clashes since landmark parliamentary elections went off without major disruption, officials said Friday.

One Afghan soldier died and a U.S. soldier was wounded in the fighting in central Uruzgan on Thursday and Friday, the first time U.S.-led forces used air power since President Hamid Karzai questioned the need for airstrikes.

Five al-Qaida

suspects held after

gunfight in Somalia's breakaway republic

MOGADISHU, Somalia - Police in the breakaway republic of Somaliland raided houses in the capital where al-Qaida militants were believed holed up Friday and captured four suspects after a shootout, officials said. A fifth suspect was arrested 20 miles away.

Three police officers and one suspect were wounded in the overnight clashes in Somaliland's capital of Hargeisa.

Police chief Mohamed Ige Ilmi said the suspects were trained in Afghanistan and possessed assault rifles, anti-tank mines and a large cache of ammunition.

EU submits plan to refer Iran issue to Security Council

VIENNA, Austria - The European Union submitted a motion Friday to the U.N. atomic watchdog agency that sets Iran up for referral to the Security Council later this year unless Tehran halts some of its nuclear activities.

Diplomats earlier said a watered-down text was likely to get Russia's support, but the motion contained a direct reference to the Security Council and held out the likelihood of referral in the coming months.

Iran increased the pressure against referral to the Security Council, diplomats told The Associated Press, threatening to restart uranium enrichment - a possible pathway to nuclear arms.

- From wire reports