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World in brief: Organized crime boss kills mayor

The mayor of the Japanese city of Nagasaki was shot to death in a brazen attack Tuesday by an organized crime chief apparently enraged that the city refused to compensate him after his car was damaged at a public works construction site, police said.

The shooting was rare in a country where handguns are strictly banned and only five politicians are known to have been killed since World War II.

Mayor Iccho Ito, 61, was shot twice in the back at point-blank range outside a train station Tuesday evening, Nagasaki police official Rumi Tsujimoto said.

One of the bullets struck the mayor’s heart and he went into cardiac arrest, according to Nagasaki University Hospital spokesman Kenzo Kusano. Ito died after emergency surgery, said Nagasaki prefectural police official Hirofumi Ito.

Tetsuya Shiroo, a senior member of Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan’s largest organized crime syndicate, was wrestled to the ground by officers after the attack and arrested, police said.


Rice meets with Palestinian leader

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice held an unannounced half-hour meeting Tuesday at the State Department with Palestinian Finance Minister Salam Fayyad, her first encounter with an official in the unity government shunned by Israel. The move came as U.S. officials are seeking ways to sidestep a ban on aid to the Palestinian government.

Both indicate a greater willingness by the Bush administration to part with Israel on how to deal with a Cabinet headed by a member of the militant group Hamas. Israeli officials have insisted that any person who joins the unity government is tainted by the association with Hamas, even an internationally respected financial expert like Fayyad.

A senior State Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of diplomatic sensitivities, said that Rice personally likes Fayyad and she arranged for the meeting in part to “sharpen the distinctions” between those members of the Palestinian government who support peace with Israel and those who back Hamas. “If we shun them all, how will we make that clear?” he asked.

Fayyad was meeting with Assistant Secretary of State C. David Welch on Tuesday morning in Welch’s office when Rice showed up and joined the session, Fayyad said during an appearance at the Palestine Center.

Mexico City

Drug cartel leader held in crackdown

A man described as a key leader of the violent Gulf Cartel has been arrested as part of a widening crackdown on drug trafficking in northeast Mexico, federal authorities announced Tuesday.

The announcement of the bust in the state of Tamaulipas, which borders the United States, came the day after Mexican soldiers detained more than 100 local police officers in the neighboring state of Nuevo Leon for questioning about suspected ties to drug traffickers.

The operations are part of a series of efforts pushed by President Felipe Calderon aimed at stemming the country’s increasingly violent war between drug cartels.

Federal agents arrested Juan Oscar “Las Barbas” Garza Azuara and four others Monday evening as they arrived at a nightclub known as Fifty-Seven in the city of Reynosa, across the border from McAllen, Texas.

The Mexican attorney general’s office charged that Garza was responsible primarily for money laundering but that he also ran logistics for key drug-distribution routes that head into the United States through Reynosa.

Authorities said Garza was one of a dozen or so lieutenants who’d been running the Gulf Cartel since its leader, Osiel Cardenas, was extradited to the United States in January.


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