Al-Qaida claims responsibility in kidnapping of Austrian tourists

CAIRO, Egypt - Al-Qaida in Islamic North Africa claimed responsibility for kidnapping two Austrian tourists last month in Tunisia in an audio recording aired Monday on Al-Jazeera television.

A man who identified himself as Salah Abu Mohammed said in the recording that the terrorist group kidnapped the two Austrians on Feb. 22 in retribution for Western cooperation with Israel, but said the hostages were in good health.

Five US soldiers killed in Baghdad suicide bombing

BAGHDAD - A suicide bomber killed five U.S. soldiers as they chatted with shop owners while on a foot patrol in central Baghdad on Monday, the deadliest attack on American forces in the heavily fortified capital in more than eight months.

The bombing, just four days after nearly simultaneous blasts killed scores of people in a vibrant Shiite commercial district, again showed the insurgents' ability to strike inside a capital secured by hundreds of security checkpoints, U.S.-funded neighborhood watch groups and hundreds of miles of blast walls that surround buildings and cordon off districts.

Israel's PM orders reduction of Gaza operations with drop in rocket fire

JERUSALEM - Israel's prime minister ordered the army to scale back operations in Gaza on Monday after a sharp drop in Palestinian rocket fire, raising the possibility of a wider truce that would ease the path for peace talks.

Ehud Olmert denied talk of a cease-fire with Gaza's Hamas rulers but said there was no need to attack Gaza as long as calm prevailed.

Hamas said it was encouraged by the relative lull, saying it proved that attacks on Israel were paying off. The militant group wants an agreement that would include opening the Gaza Strip's shuttered borders.

China: Suspicious liquids involved in plane incident

BEIJING - China disclosed Monday that suspicious liquids were found on a flight headed to Beijing from a far western Muslim region, and Olympic organizers tried to dismiss fears that the summer games were under threat.

The government announced over the weekend that authorities had foiled a plot by Islamic terrorists targeting the August games and also said there was an apparently unrelated attempt to crash a passenger jet on Friday.

- From wire reports