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GAZA STRIP

Hamas besieges suspects in Italian's slaying

JERUSALEM | Hamas police on Tuesday besieged a house in Gaza where al-Qaeda-inspired militants implicated in the slaying of an Italian activist were holed up and traded gunfire with the suspects after they refused to surrender, an official said.

The siege was part of Hamas' manhunt for the killers of Vittorio Arrigoni, who had been in Gaza since 2008 helping local Palestinians. The 36-year-old's body was found Friday, a day after he was kidnapped and after a video showing him beaten and blindfolded surfaced online.

Hamas forces surrounded the house in Gaza Tuesday afternoon, calling on the men inside to surrender, but their calls were answered with gunfire, which prompted police to shoot back, a police official said.

EGYPT

Mission: 846 killed in anti-government protests

CAIRO | At least 846 Egyptians died in the nearly three-week-long popular uprising that toppled longtime President Hosni Mubarak and electrified the region, a government fact-finding mission announced Tuesday.

In a report, the panel of judges described police forces shooting protesters in the head and chest with live ammunition and presented a death toll more than twice that of previous official estimates.

Earlier official estimates had put the toll from the days of demonstrations, in which protesters battled heavily armed legions of riot police, at 365.

SYRIA

Emergency laws lifted, but protesters warned

BEIRUT | Syria's government approved lifting the country's nearly 50-year-old state of emergency Tuesday to meet a key demand of anti-government protesters, but opposition leaders dismissed it as an attempt by President Bashar Assad to claim reforms but maintain his hard-line rule.

The blunt response suggested the month-old uprising could be entering a more volatile stage, with protesters aiming higher to seek Mr. Assad's ouster and his regime warning that the demonstrations must now end.

The announcement signaling the end of the much-reviled emergency rule came just hours after a show of strength by authorities. Security forces opened fire on an occupied square in Syria's third-largest city. Then officials issued a stern warning on national TV for the protesters to back down.

YEMEN

Police open fire on protesters; 1 killed

SANAA | Yemeni security forces opened fire on anti-government protesters in the second largest city on Tuesday, killing at least one, activists and medics said amid rising international concern over the strategically located nation.

The U.N. Security Council was scheduled to meet later Tuesday to discuss the deteriorating situation in Yemen, where rights groups say two months of protests calling for the president to step down have claimed 120 lives.

A government delegation also headed to nearby Abu Dhabi for talks with the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council over a proposal for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to transfer power to his deputy to end the crisis. The opposition held similar talks Sunday.

Thousands of protesters were marching in the southern city of Taiz, a hotbed of anti-government activism, demanding the president's resignation when security forces opened fire.

IRAQ

Gunmen attack home, kill 3 women

SULAIMANIYAH | Gunmen stormed a house in a northern, ethnically mixed city in Iraq, killing three Shiite Arab women who recently moved there, police said Tuesday.

Police Col. Sherzad Mofaly of Kirkuk said it's not clear why the women were targeted in the attack late Monday, but simmering ethnic tensions between Arabs and Kurds have long made Kirkuk a potential flash point that could unravel Iraq's already shaky stability.

The women - a 55-year-old teacher, her daughter and a stepdaughter - moved to Kirkuk several months ago from the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah, Mofaly said. Kirkuk is located 180 miles north of Baghdad.

The teacher's husband was at work as a gas station guard at the time of the attack, Col. Mofaly said.

Separately, a senior Education Ministry official was killed Tuesday by a bomb that was hidden on his car in Baghdad, according to police and hospital officials.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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