US-Iraq pact poses test for Iraq's forces

BAGHDAD - The U.S.-Iraqi security pact now before parliament calls for U.S. forces to leave Iraq's cities by June 30 in recognition of an improved security climate, but the deadline poses a key test for Iraqi forces in places like Baghdad and the northern city of Mosul where attacks still occur daily.

It is a gamble that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, emboldened by recent military successes, is willing to take - partly because of growing confidence in the capabilities of Iraqi forces.

Somali pirates hijack tanker loaded with oil

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - In a dramatic escalation of high seas crime, Somali pirates hijacked a Saudi supertanker loaded with crude hundreds of miles off the coast of East Africa - defeating the security web of warships trying to protect vital shipping lanes.

The takeover demonstrates the bandits' heightened ambitions and capabilities: Never before have they seized such a giant ship so far out to sea. Maritime experts warned the broad daylight attack, reported by the U.S. Navy on Monday, was an alarming sign of the difficulty of patrolling a vast stretch of ocean key to oil and other cargo traffic.

Officials: Israeli mob boss killed in car bombing

TEL AVIV, Israel - A bomb exploded in a car carrying one of Israel's top mafia kingpins on Monday, killing him and threatening to unleash an all-out war in Israel's increasingly violent underworld.

Israeli police officials identified the dead man as Yaakov Alperon - known informally as 'Don Alperon' - the head of one of the country's most powerful crime families. The bloodied body was wearing the same polo shirt Alperon was seen sporting earlier in the day at a Tel Aviv courthouse.

Taliban militants reject Karzai's offer for talks

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - Taliban militants rejected an offer of peace talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, saying Monday there would be no negotiations until foreign troops leave Afghanistan.

Karzai offered Sunday to provide security for reclusive Taliban leader Mullah Omar if he enters negotiations and said the U.S. and other Western nations could leave Afghanistan or oust him if they disagree.

- From wire reports