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Briefly

- - Monday, April 11, 2011

MEXICO

16 more bodies found in graves

MEXICO CITY | A suspect in the kidnapping and killing of bus passengers near the U.S. border led Mexican soldiers to another set of clandestine graves containing 16 bodies, bringing to 88 the number of corpses found in mass pits in the northern state of Tamaulipas.

The latest batch of bodies was found in four pits in the township of San Fernando, where prosecutors had previously found 72 corpses in 10 pits, the Defense Department said in a statement Sunday.

When detained, Armando Morales Uscanga had a rifle and almost $3,000 in cash, the statement said, adding that he told soldiers he had participated in kidnapping passengers on March 24 and 29 in the township of San Fernando, Tamaulipas.

He also said he had helped kill and bury 43 people found in pits April 6.

San Fernando is a town about 90 miles south of Brownsville, Texas, on a well-traveled stretch of highway that runs near the Gulf Coast. It is an area regularly patrolled by the Mexican military.

It was the second gruesome find in less than a year: In August, investigators found the bodies of 72 migrants in San Fernando.

Federal authorities said they are holding 14 people — 12 men and two women — as suspects in the latest case.

The federal attorney general's office said there was evidence that most of the suspects belonged to the Zetas drug gang, the same group blamed for the August massacre. Some were detained with military-style uniforms, and others were found driving a pickup truck displaying false Mexican navy insignia.

The Zetas and rival Gulf Cartel are fighting in Tamaulipas over lucrative drug transit routes to the U.S. The state shares three major border cities with Brownsville, Laredo, and McAllen, Texas. Prosecutors say the kidnappings may have been part of a forced-recruitment effort by the Zetas gang.

CANADA

Conservatives closer to ruling majority

TORONTO | Canada's ruling Conservative Party extended its lead over the Liberals to 11 points in an opinion poll released Monday, driving deeper into territory that could win them a majority in a May 2 federal election.

The Nanos Research tracking poll of results over three days of surveys put support for the Conservatives at 41.2 percent, up from 40.5 percent in a Saturday poll.

Support for the main opposition Liberals was at 30.4 percent, down from 31.7 percent, while the left-leaning New Democratic Party rose to 15.2 percent from 13.2 percent.

Under Canada's electoral system, a party needs around 40 percent of the vote to win a majority of the 308 seats in the House of Commons.

PERU

Leftist ex-officer wins first-round vote

LIMA | Left-wing former army officer Ollanta Humala won the first round of the presidential election and will likely face Keiko Fujimori, daughter of a jailed former president, in a June 5 run-off, official results showed Monday.

Mr. Humala has softened his anti-capitalist rhetoric, vowing gradual steps to help millions of poor Peruvians left behind by a decade-long boom in one of the world's fastest-growing economies. But his populist rhetoric still rattles investors who fear he will roll back free-market reforms.

Peruvian stocks were down 3 percent on doubts Miss Fujimori, a center-right populist favored by big business, can defeat Mr. Humala in June and worries he will tap mining company profits.

With 80 percent of Sunday's ballots counted, officials said Mr. Humala had 30.5 percent of the vote, with Miss Fujimori in second place, with 23.1 percent.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports