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Envoys injured ‘slightly’ in attack

The U.S. and Italian ambassadors to Sri Lanka were slightly injured when their helicopters were targeted by mortars fired by suspected Tamil Tiger rebels in the east today, officials said.

The helicopters used by U.S. Ambassador Robert Blake and his Italian counterpart Pio Mariani had just landed in Batticaloa when several mortars landed close to the aircraft, said Sri Lankan government minister Mahinda Samarasinghe, who accompanied them.

“Both the ambassadors are fine and they have suffered slight injuries,” Samarasinghe said.

The Sri Lankan Defense Ministry blamed the attack on separatist Tamil Tiger rebels, who are banned in the United States and in European Union countries as a terrorist group.

There was no immediate comment from the rebels.

CUILAPA, Guatemala

Raid kills four jailed officers

Gunmen stormed a Guatemalan prison and shot to death four jailed police officers in a mafia hit aimed at stopping investigators from finding out who ordered the slayings of three politicians from neighboring El Salvador, Guatemala’s leader said Monday.

The four policemen killed Sunday included Luis Arturo Herrera, head of the Guatemalan National Police organized crime unit, and three of his officers. They were arrested Thursday in connection with the Feb. 19 killings of three Salvadoran representatives to the Central American Parliament, based in Guatemala City.

President Oscar Berger said “organized crime gangs” reached the officers’ cell after getting past eight locked doors at the prison and were responsible for the “violent deaths of four important witnesses who could have helped the investigation.”

Twenty-two prison guards were detained for questioning, and there were reports that the killers may have worn guard uniforms or that guards may have cleared visitors from the prison prior to the attack.


Japan completes global spy web

After nearly a decade of trying, Japan has succeeded in establishing a network of spy satellites that can peer at any point on the globe, officials said Monday.

The successful launch Saturday of the last of a fleet of four reconnaissance satellites significantly boosts Japan’s ability to gather independent intelligence and re-establishes Tokyo as a major player in Asia’s accelerating space race.

Previously, Japan had to rely more heavily on its main ally, the United States, for spy satellite data.

Japan started its spy satellite program in 1998 after North Korea launched a missile over the country’s main island.


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Explosion rocks Wisconsin refinery, forcing evacuations

UPDATED: 4:54 p.m.

updated  A tank containing crude oil or asphalt exploded at a large refinery in Wisconsin on Thursday, injuring several people and prompting fire officials to urge people living near the still-burning plant to evacuate their homes.