January 21, 2011 in Nation/World

In brief: 3 car bombs kill dozens of Shiites


Baghdad – Three suicide car bombers struck Shiite pilgrims south of Baghdad on Thursday, killing at least 51 people and wounding more than 180 in a third straight day of attacks across Iraq.

The string of assaults, reminiscent of the bloodiest days of the Iraq war, shattered a two-month lull and presented a major challenge to the new government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who must soon decide whether to ask U.S. forces to stay after the end of the year.

Thursday’s attacks were particularly significant because most of the victims were Shiite civilians, the government’s core constituency.

Army captures drug kingpin

Tijuana, Mexico – The head of a Tijuana-area drug trafficking ring who worked for the Sinaloa cartel and has been linked by authorities to about 50 killings was captured by the Mexican army, officials said Thursday.

A 14-year-old girl kidnapped by the gang was freed in the raid, said Julian Leyzaola, deputy public safety secretary in Baja California state.

Juan Miguel “El Boxer” Valle Beltran was arrested Wednesday after the shootout in the seaside city of Playas de Rosarito, the Mexican army said. He was arrested with 13 suspected underlings.

The army said one of Valle Beltran’s followers was killed. The man killed was not identified, but Leyzaola said those arrested told officials he decapitated the gang’s rivals and hung corpses from bridges.

The Sinaloa cartel has been laboring to dominate drug running in Tijuana, the coveted border city across from San Diego, since the leader of the Arellano Felix gang was arrested in 2006.

The Sinaloa cartel is led by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who some observers say has become the most powerful organized crime leader in Mexico.

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