55 dead in attacks in Nigeria

ABUJA, Nigeria - Islamist militants seeking to impose a Taliban-style regime in northern Nigeria launched attacks Monday on police in three towns, expanding a two-day campaign of violence that has killed at least 55 people, police and witnesses said.

Trouble began Sunday when militants attacked a police station in the northern city of Bauchi, leaving dozens dead in gunbattles with police. On Monday, militants launched a wave of attacks in three more states, targeting the towns of Maiduguri, Damaturu, and Wudil in the predominantly Muslim North, police and residents said.

National police chief Ogbonnaya Onovo put the overall toll at 55 dead at least - 50 militants and five police officers.

Afghans want rules for troops changed

KABUL - A confident President Hamid Karzai on Monday offered peace talks to Taliban militants if they renounce violence and called for a new relationship with the West if he wins a second term in next month's presidential election.

Karzai is considered the favorite in the Aug. 20 vote. But his chances could hinge on his fellow Pashtuns in the turbulent south and east, where U.S. and British forces this month have suffered some of their highest casualties of the eight-year war.

Israel to do anything to stop Iran nuke

JERUSALEM - Israel hardened its insistence Monday that it would do anything it felt necessary to stop Iran from getting a nuclear bomb, just the ultimatum the United States hoped not to hear as it tried to nudge Iran to the bargaining table.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates reassured Israel that the new Obama administration was not naive about Iran's intentions, and that Washington would press for new, tougher sanctions against the Iranians if they balk. He didn't say what those might include.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak used a brief news conference with Gates to insist three times that Israel would not rule out any response - an implied warning that it would consider a pre-emptive strike to thwart Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.