- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 28, 2006

BRAZIL

Gangs burn buses, attack police; 19 die

RIO DE JANEIRO — Drug gangs set fire to buses and opened fire on police stations and posts around Rio de Janeiro early yesterday in a wave of violence that killed 19 persons and wounded 21, the state’s top law-enforcement officer said.

The victims included seven who burned to death in one of four burned buses and three policemen, said Roberto Precioso, head of Rio’s Public Safety Department.

Gang members used handguns, machine guns and grenades in 12 attacks on police stations and outposts that began in the early morning.

IRELAND

Threats preceded Kennedy visit

DUBLIN — President Kennedy was the subject of three separate death threats during his visit to Ireland in 1963, according to newly declassified police documents released today.

The documents released by the Irish Justice Department said police received two anonymous telephoned warnings in the weeks before the arrival of the United States’ first Irish Catholic president. A third threat went to the newsroom of the Irish Independent newspaper.

Mr. Kennedy’s June 26 to 29 visit went ahead trouble-free as he was greeted by adoring crowds in Dublin, Cork, Galway and at his family homestead in County Wexford, in southeast Ireland. He was assassinated in Dallas five months later.

AFGHANISTAN

Karzai opposes border mining plan

KABUL — President Hamid Karzai criticized Pakistan’s plan to mine and fence its border with Afghanistan, saying yesterday that it will separate families but not prevent terrorism.

Mr. Karzai’s remarks came two days after Pakistan said it would plant land mines and build a fence on parts of its 1,510-mile frontier with Afghanistan, in an effort to fend off criticism it does too little to stop Taliban and al Qaeda guerrillas from crossing the border.

SAUDI ARABIA

Muslim pilgrims flock to Mena for hajj

MECCA — Two million Muslims began streaming out of Mecca yesterday at the start of a hajj pilgrimage with Saudi authorities on alert to prevent deadly overcrowding as well as sectarian violence.

Moving in cars, vans and on foot, a mass of white-robed pilgrims poured into a tented city in the valley of Mena to begin the grueling five-day ritual, a duty for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to make the trip.

CZECH REPUBLIC

Russian held in hijack attempt

PRAGUE — A passenger claiming to have an explosive device tried to hijack a Russian airliner over Europe yesterday but was subdued by other people on board, authorities said.

The Russian man was detained after the Aeroflot Airbus A320 made an emergency landing at Prague’s international airport. Authorities said they did not suspect terrorism.

The plane was en route from Moscow to Geneva when the man, who was apparently drunk, tried to break into the cockpit, demanding the pilots fly to Africa. The man claimed he had an explosive device.

MEXICO

At least 21 killed in bus-train collision

CUAUTITLAN — A freight train slammed into a passenger bus and dragged it down the tracks in central Mexico yesterday, killing at least 21 persons and injuring 10, police said.

The bus driver apparently was trying to beat the approaching train across the tracks in the city of Cuautitlan, just north of Mexico City.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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