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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Militant Talks Go On Amid Turmoil

JERUSALEM -- A suicide bomber blew himself up in an Israeli grocery store early Thursday, killing one man, despite an intense push by Palestinian and international leaders to persuade militant groups to end such attacks.

Several hours later, hundreds of Israeli soldiers and police scuffled with settlers as part of their effort to tear down the West Bank settlement outpost of Mitzpeh Yitzhar, the first inhabited Jewish outpost it has targeted in accordance with a new peace plan.

About 200 settlers blocked the road to the outpost -- a collection of tents and two makeshift buildings -- with cars, burning tires and sharp objects.

Soldiers and police used their bare hands and knives to rip down some tents as settlers charged them, throwing punches. The ensuing fight left many of the settlers bloody.

Taking down the unauthorized outposts and stopping Palestinian attacks on Israelis are key elements in the first phase of the U.S.-backed "road map" to Middle East peace, which envisions an end to almost 33 months of violence and a Palestinian state by 2005.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell was headed to the region Friday to meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders to try to restore momentum to peace efforts.

Speaking Thursday during a stop in Bangladesh, Powell condemned the suicide bombing and said that despite the violence, some progress was being made in developing security arrangements.

In his fourth day of talks to reach a cease-fire agreement, Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas met Thursday with the DFLP and PFLP, two smaller militant groups, and planned to meet with all the Palestinian factions Thursday night.

As talks for a Palestinian cease-fire continued, so did the violence. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for Thursday's suicide bombing in a telephone call to The Associated Press, identifying the bomber as Ahmed Abahreh, 22, of the West Bank town of Jenin.

In that early morning attack, the bomber carrying a bag filled with explosives entered a grocery store in the Israeli village of Sdeh Trumot near the West Bank, police said.

The attacker had likely planned to target a bus or a nearby bus stop, and entered the store to wait until the bus stop got more crowded or a bus came, police spokesman Yaron Zamir said.

The store owner, Avner Mordechai, 63, realized the man was a bomber and approached him when the attacker detonated the explosives, killing Mordechai, Zamir said.

The Israeli army also reported a string of overnight attacks on soldiers by Palestinian militants. No one died.

On Wednesday, Abbas held separate meetings in Gaza with leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the main Islamic militant groups, to persuade them to halt such attacks. Participants in the truce talks said Israel's part in a possible cease-fire deal would be a commitment to stop targeted killings of suspected militants.

There were contradictory signals Thursday about progress in the talks.

Palestinian officials said U.S. envoy John Wolf was making progress in getting Israel to scale back the targeted killings to include only militants actually planning attacks and not "political leaders" such as Hamas' Abdel Aziz Rantisi, who survived a missile strike last week. Israel has denied such a deal.

The Palestinian officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Abbas would meet with Powell at 2 p.m. Friday in the West Bank town of Jericho before returning to Gaza for yet more meetings.