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Picassos stolen from museum

Three armed robbers stole two Pablo Picasso prints from a Sao Paulo art museum on Thursday in a rapid strike in which the thieves bypassed more valuable works to grab the stolen pieces, police said.

The bandits also took two oil paintings by well-known Brazilian artists Emiliano Di Cavalcanti and Lasar Segall, said Carla Regina, a spokeswoman for the Pinacoteca do Estado museum. It was the Brazilian city’s second high-profile art theft in less than a year.

The Picasso prints stolen were “The Painter and the Model” from 1963 and “Minotaur, Drinker and Women” from 1933, according to a statement from the Sao Paulo Secretary of State for Culture, which oversees the museum.

About noon, three armed men paid the 4 Brazilian real entrance fee – about $2.45 – and immediately went to the second-floor gallery where the works were being exhibited, bypassing more valuable pieces, authorities said.

“This indicates to us that they probably received an order” to take those specific works, Youssef Abou Chain, head of Sao Paulo’s organized crime unit, said.

QUITO, Ecuador

Plot against president alleged

Ecuadorean police on Thursday arrested four men, including at least three Colombians, in what officials said may have been plot to attack leftist President Rafael Correa.

Chief Prosecutor Washington Pesantez said a preliminary police investigation uncovered a plot to kill Correa and the four suspects were arrested in Ecuador’s capital, Quito.

But in an interview on Ecuavisa television network, Correa said “there is a high possibility that (the suspects) are simply conmen, because they were asking for money in return for information” about the alleged assassination plot.

The alleged plot comes as diplomatic ties between the South American neighbors are still tense following a March 1 cross-border raid by Colombia that killed a senior Colombian guerrilla and 24 other people.

BOGOTA, Colombia

France’s first lady criticized for song

Colombia’s foreign minister says a new song by the wife of the French president is “very painful for Colombia.”

The song reportedly appears on the third album of model Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, which appears in stores on July 21.

The French daily Le Figaro reports that the song includes these lyrics: “You are my drug / More deadly than Afghan heroin / More dangerous than white Colombian.”

Foreign Minister Fernando Araujo said Thursday that “coming from the mouth of the wife of the President of France, this type of statement is very painful for Colombia.”

It’s not clear if the song refers to President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Colombia produces more than 80 percent of the world’s cocaine.