World, Nation Briefs: Gunmen kill three linked to U.S. consulate

  • Sun Mar 14th, 2010 10:33pm
  • News

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico — Gunmen killed a U.S. consulate employee and her husband as they drove in this violent border city with their baby in the back seat, minutes after the husband of another consular employee was shot to death and his two children wounded, officials said Sunday. Security forces suspected a drug gang hit, but offered no motive. The gunmen are suspected of belonging to a gang of hit men tied to the Juarez drug cartel, officials said. A U.S. State Department spokesman said the three slain people had attended the same social event before the attacks Saturday.

China: Lead poisoning found

Authorities have ordered the closure of a lead ingot factory after 94 people, including 88 children, in nearby villages were found to have lead poisoning. Reports of lead poisoning have emerged around the country since last year, highlighting the environmental cost of China’s rapid economic development. Authorities organized medical tests for some 1,600 residents in four villages within a 2,600-foot radius of the Zhongyi Alloy Co. in Neijiang, Xinhua News Agency reported Monday. Ninety-four residents were found to be suffering from lead poisoning, while 745 others were waiting for their test results.

Tiger deaths prompt grant

A city has allocated $1 million to improve conditions at a zoo after the recent deaths of 11 rare Siberian tigers and other animals, state media said Sunday. The Siberian tigers at the Shenyang Forest Wild Animal Zoo starved to death in the past three months, having been fed nothing but chicken bones, according to reports last week, although a zoo manager said unspecified diseases killed the animals. The secretary-general of the Shenyang city government said the funds would be spent on protecting the zoo’s animals and on facilitating the zoo’s management and operations, Xinhua reported.

Egypt: Sandstorms on Suez

Officials said sandstorms slowed traffic in the Suez Canal and closed five ports in the Gulf of Suez. The head of the Red Sea Ports Authority said the ports were shut Sunday until further notice because of sandy winds. He said 15 ships were prevented from exiting or entering the ports. A Suez Canal official said ships in the waterway’s southern tip were asked to slow down because of the weather, but traffic in the northern sector of the canal was unaffected. Canal fees are one of Egypt’s largest sources of revenues.

Bolivia: Pageant plan dropped

Bolivia is dropping its bid to host the Miss Universe pageant because it would cost more than anticipated. President Evo Morales has lobbied foreign leaders to help him bring the glamorous contest to the impoverished South American nation. But the culture minister said Sunday that a closer look at estimated expenses forced the government to pull out. Developing countries including Vietnam and Thailand have hosted the pageant in recent years.

U.A.E.: Sentenced for a kiss

A British couple is appealing a jail sentence after being accused of sharing a passionate kiss in a Dubai restaurant. Cosmopolitan Dubai has the most lenient social codes in the Gulf, but authorities can still crack down on people charged with pushing the limits. Ayman Najifi, a Briton working in Dubai, and a female tourist were arrested in November after a complaint about public kissing. They were convicted of inappropriate behavior and other charges — bringing a month in jail. The couple says it was just a “peck on the cheek.”

N. Dakota: Flood risk grows

The Red River is rising — and so is the anxiety level for residents in North Dakota and Minnesota who dealt with record flooding last year. A National Weather Service forecast shows the river rising to a peak of 38 feet in Fargo next Saturday before it starts to level off or drop. That’s 8 feet above major flood stage. Residents in the Fargo-Moorhead area stacked about 6 million sandbags last year to hold off the flooding, when the river topped 40 feet. Fargo officials said they will begin delivering sandbags to neighborhoods soon. Volunteers have filled about 740,000 so far.

Florida: Four cyclists slain

Four people on two motorcycles have been killed after a pickup truck struck both bikes. All four motorcyclists were ejected and one victim was thrown through the windshield of another truck. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, a truck driven by 45-year-old Paul Sermons was trying to pass a slower, westbound vehicle on Saturday night near Bushnell. Police said he didn’t realize how close the motorcycles were. He said he wasn’t able to slow down and hit both bikes.

From Herald news services