Suicide bombings kill key al-Qaida opponent in latest extremist backlash

BAGHDAD - The head of a key U.S.-backed Sunni group was killed Monday in a double suicide bombing that claimed at least 11 other lives and highlighted the deadly precision of attacks on Sunni leaders choosing to oppose al-Qaida in Iraq.

The main target - a former police colonel who led resistance to al-Qaida in one of its former Baghdad strongholds - was first embraced by a bomber posing as a friend. Seconds later, the attacker stepped back and triggered an explosion, a witness said.

A suicide car bomber then struck as rescuers tried to evacuate the wounded. At least 28 people were injured in the twin blasts.

Israel to tell Bush it will take down outposts

MIGRON, West Bank - Israel will tell President Bush during his visit this week that it is committed to 'expeditiously' evacuating unauthorized settlement outposts in the West Bank, a spokesman for Israel's premier said Monday.

Bush has said he expects Israel to comply with its 5-year-old pledge to take down the outposts, tiny encampments seen by the Palestinians as a major impediment to a peace deal. Bush arrives Wednesday on a three-day mission to push for progress in recently restarted Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Two jets crash in Persian Gulf; pilots rescued

WASHINGTON - Two U.S. Navy fighter jets plunged into the Persian Gulf on Monday after a mid-air collision, but all three pilots were rescued safely, a top Navy commander said Monday.

Navy Vice Adm. Kevin J. Cosgriff told reporters that the three pilots have been brought back to the USS Harry Truman, the aircraft carrier they were operating from, and are in good condition. Cosgriff, who is commander of the Navy's 5th Fleet, which is based in Bahrain, said the pilots were undergoing medical checks.

Elephant shot dead after crashing party

HARARE, Zimbabwe - Tusker, a towering 50-year-old bull elephant who had become a favorite for safari camp visitors, was shot dead after New Year's party-goers provoked the animal into trampling several cars, conservationists said Monday.

Tusker was executed Sunday by rangers at the Charara camp on the shores of Lake Kariba, 230 miles northwest of Harare, parks officials and independent Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force said.

- From wire reports