Four Americans die in blast in Afghanistan

KABUL - A roadside bomb killed four American troops in southern Afghanistan, the U.S. said Friday, as a U.N.-backed panel finished most of its investigation into whether the level of fraud in the August presidential election would force a runoff.

Rising U.S. casualties and the political crisis triggered by a fraud-marred election have prompted the Obama administration to review its entire Afghanistan war strategy, including proposals to send thousands more troops here or shift the focus to missile strikes and special operations raid against al-Qaida figures in Pakistan.

Two of the U.S. service members were killed instantly in the Thursday blast and two others died of their wounds, the U.S. said in a statement. No further details were released.

Suicide bomber kills 15 people at mosque

BAGHDAD - A suicide bomber who hid among the Sunni congregation in a northern Iraqi mosque sprayed gunfire at Muslim worshippers Friday and then blew himself up, killing at least 15 people, including the imam leading prayers, officials said.

The brazen attack is the latest against Sunni clerics who have increasingly spoken out against al-Qaida in Iraq since U.S. combat troops withdrew from Iraqi cities at the end of June. The clerics and others fear militants could take advantage of the transition to step up the kind of sectarian attacks that pushed Iraq to the brink of civil war two years ago.

The man who opened fire in the mosque in Tal Afar first shot the imam, Abdul-Satar Hassan, before turning his AK-47 assault rifle on worshippers, witnesses said. He detonated his explosives only after running out of ammunition.

Ninety-five people were wounded in the attack, said Ismail Majeed, a doctor at Tal Afar hospital.

Putin floats international song contest

MOSCOW - Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, by some accounts a big fan of ABBA, has suggested organizing an international song competition for Russia, Central Asia and China, saying it would strengthen cultural ties among the nations.

Europe has been holding such a competition for decades, called the Eurovision Song Contest. Known for campy and glitzy performers, the annual showcase for singers and musicians from across the continent typically attracts 100 million viewers or more from around the world on TV and the Internet.