World briefs 4/19/07

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Armed men kill two at Mexican hospital

TIJUANA, Mexico -- Police and soldiers battled gunmen who seized hostages at a hospital in northern Mexico Wednesday in violence that left at least two people dead, officials said. Shots were heard coming from the building as dozens of security forces attempted to dislodge at least six armed men, who apparently had been trying to free a prison inmate being treated at the hospital. Authorities evacuated personnel and patients from three of the Tijuana facility's seven floors, Red Cross representative Fernando Esquer said. He said some hostages had been taken, but he did not know how many. He said the attack was related to the arrival earlier in the day of the unidentified Tijuana prison inmate, who was receiving a routine medical procedure. Tijuana police commander Jaime Niebla said that that between six and eight assailants had gone into the hospital. Police and army troops closed off streets surrounding the hospital.

Two Britons go to trial over leaked memo

LONDON -- A British government official and a former political researcher went on trial Wednesday for allegedly leaking a classified memo in which President Bush reportedly referred to bombing the Arab television station Al-Jazeera. David Keogh, 50, a cipher expert, and Leo O'Connor, 44, a lawmaker's aide, are accused of violating secrecy laws by disclosing a document relating to 2004 talks between Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair. Both defendants deny violating the Official Secrets Act. Prosecutors allege Keogh passed the memo to O'Connor in May 2004, who in turn placed it in a file he handed to his boss, Tony Clarke, then a legislator who had voted against Britain's decision to join the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. The Daily Mirror newspaper previously reported that the memo noted Blair had argued against Bush's suggestion of bombing Al-Jazeera's headquarters in Doha, Qatar. The Daily Mirror said its sources disagreed on whether Bush's suggestion was serious. Blair said he had no information about any proposed U.S. action against Al-Jazeera, and the White House called the claims "outlandish and inconceivable."

Daylight clash adds to growing fears in Brazil

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil -- Gangsters with automatic weapons shoot it out with police in broad daylight near downtown. Parents use their bodies to shield children on their way to school. Passengers on buses stuck in traffic hit the floor as bullets shatter windows. A day after terrorizing gunbattles left at least 19 criminals lying dead in the streets, Brazilians grappled Wednesday with a shocking image of how far Rio de Janeiro has sunk into violence as Brazil prepares for a papal visit next month and the Pan American games this summer. Authorities sought to reassure the public about the ability and willingness of police to control violence, stressing that only members of drug gangs died in the shootouts, which saw some gunmen blazing away while clad in Bermuda shorts and others without shirts. The worst bloodshed was in the Mineira shantytown, where 13 people died. Officials said two were killed by police and the rest died in fighting between rival drug gangs. Six other alleged drug gang members died in a separate, and apparently unrelated, confrontation with police on the poor north side.

Passengers delayed after crew refuses to fly

LONDON -- Passengers on a British Airways flight from New Delhi to London were delayed about 13 hours when members of the cabin and flight crew reported they were too sleepy to fly, a company spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday. Crew members said they had not slept enough because of noise at their hotel, said Laura Goodes, a BA spokeswoman. A report Monday in the Hindustan Times had quoted airport officials as saying the pilot "felt sleepy." "The crew hadn't had enough rest. The safety regulations of British Airways don't allow them to operate in such conditions," the newspaper quoted BA spokeswoman Rhadika Raikhy as saying. "The entire crew had a disturbed night."

Zoo asks visitors not to stare at the chimps

ANTWERP, Belgium -- We all know not to feed the animals when visiting the zoo. Now the Antwerp Zoo has urged visitors to, please, stop staring at the chimpanzees. New rules have been posted outside the chimp enclosure at the city zoo urging visitors not to form a bond with a particular male chimp named "Cheetah." He was raised by humans but is now bonding with the seven other apes at the park, a zoo official said Wednesday. "We ask, we inform our daily visitors and other visitors that one of the monkeys is particularly open for human contact," zoo spokeswoman Ilse Segers said. "He was raised by humans in a family and therefore we are trying to integrate him, to try to get more social integration with the group." She said Cheetah's continued interaction with humans was "delaying the social integration of the animal in the group," and isolating the ape from the others.

-- From wire reports

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