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In brief: Diplomat accused of conspiracy

President Evo Morales on Monday ordered a U.S. diplomat to leave Bolivia for allegedly conspiring with opposition groups, further straining tense relations six months after he expelled the American ambassador.

The leftist leader said investigations determined that the U.S. Embassy’s second secretary, Francisco Martinez, “was in permanent contact with opposition groups.”

The U.S. State Department called the Bolivian move “unwarranted and unjustified.”

“We reject the allegations,” it said in a statement in Washington.

Martinez was a career diplomat focused on political affairs, said a U.S. Embassy official who was not authorized to discuss the expulsion and thus spoke on condition of anonymity.

Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca later told a news conference that his office has prepared a diplomatic note demanding Martinez’s departure and has given him 72 hours to leave.


Police chief among victims of attacks

Gunmen killed six people, including a local police chief, in a series of attacks Monday in mountain towns in the Pacific coast state of Guerrero.

The police chief of Pungarabato was repeatedly shot while driving his red Mustang on a highway near the small town early Monday, Guerrero state public safety department said in a news release.

Five other men were found gunned down in different towns in the isolated mountainous zone known as the Tierra Caliente, or the Hot Land, the state police said.

Also Monday, gunmen shot and killed a Michoacan state police commander outside police headquarters in the city of Zamora.


Northern Ireland police officer killed

Gunmen killed an officer in an attack on a Northern Ireland police patrol Monday, authorities said, just 48 hours after Irish Republican Army dissidents shot to death two British soldiers. The shootings fanned fears of a return to retaliatory violence after years of fragile peace.

The latest killing came even as British security chiefs appealed for public help to catch the soldiers’ killers – a hunt that challenges Catholics to inform on their own as never before.

“We are staring into the abyss,” warned a moderate Catholic politician, Dolores Kelly, after police confirmed that the officer was fatally shot in the head while sitting in his patrol car in the religiously divided town of Craigavon.

No group claimed responsibility, but politicians blamed the Real IRA, the splinter group that admitted blame for Saturday’s fatal shooting of two soldiers who were collecting pizzas from outside an army base.


Crew missing after ships collide

Two cargo ships collided off the coast of a central Japanese island today, leaving 16 South Korean and Indonesian crew members missing, Japan’s coast guard said.

The coast guard dispatched five ships and three helicopters to search for the 16 crew – seven South Koreans and nine Indonesians. They were on board the South Korean-registered cargo ship, which collided with a Panama-registered cargo vessel in the waters off Izu Oshima, a small island about 74 miles south of Tokyo.

From wire reports

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