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WORLD IN BRIEF: Palestinian kills 4 Israelis on eve of peace talks

Palestinian kills 4 Israelis on eve of peace talks

JERUSALEM -- Palestinian gunmen opened fire Tuesday on an Israeli car in the West Bank and killed four passengers on the eve of a new round of Mideast peace talks in Washington. The Islamic militant group Hamas claimed responsibility.

Assailants firing from a passing car riddled the vehicle with bullets as it traveled near Hebron -- a volatile city that has been a flash point of violence in the past. Some 500 ultranationalist Jewish settlers live in heavily fortified enclaves in the city amid more than 100,000 Palestinians.

One of the victims was pregnant, said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld. Israel's national rescue service said the victims were two men and two women, and Israeli media said everyone in the car was killed.

Iraq says it's independent as US ends combat

BAGHDAD -- Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said the end of American combat operations Tuesday leaves his country independent and an equal to the United States and he assured his people their own security forces will protect them.

But the extent of U.S. influence in Iraq was still palpable. Vice President Joe Biden, presiding over the transition of the American role in Iraq, held a round of meetings with political leaders and pushed them to break a half-year impasse that has held up formation of a new government after inconclusive elections in March. He said Iraq was much safer than before.

8 dead in fire at bar in Cancun

CANCUN, Mexico -- Six women and two men died Tuesday in a fire at a bar frequented by locals in the Mexican resort of Cancun, and bar employees have told police that unidentified men tossed gasoline bombs at the establishment.

Quintana Roo state Attorney General Francisco Alor said the cause of the blaze is still under investigation. It erupted in the pre-dawn hours of Tuesday at the Castillo del Mar bar in a low-income area far from the city's tourist zone.

''According to unofficial information, which we have not corroborated, two vehicles pulled up ... both black, and apparently six armed men tossed Molotov cocktails,'' Alor told a local radio station

Alor said experts were examining the wreckage of the bar.