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ITALY

Immigrant boat capsizes; 250 missing

ROME | A boat carrying as many as 300 terrified migrants from Libya capsized in rough seas off the Italian coast early Wednesday, as rescuers, hampered by strong winds, struggled to get to them.

The Italian coast guard rescued 48 people and a fishing boat picked up another three, but as many as 250 more remained unaccounted for as night fell Wednesday.

Survivors told the International Organization for Migration that they swam in the darkness toward approaching coast guard vessels, but many others drowned because they couldn’t swim, or were dragged down by screaming fellow passengers.

The coast guard is searching for survivors in what could be one of the worst tragedies since a wave of illegal migration from North Africa to Italy began in January, officials said.

MEXICO

Official: Cartels hiring common criminals

CANCUN | The head of Mexico’s federal police said drug traffickers increasingly are recruiting common criminals and converting them into killers.

Public Safety Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna said that these days, new drug cartel recruits can reach the position of hit man in a month, a process that used to take 15 years.

Mr. Garcia Luna said the gangs are recruiting low-level lawbreakers such as street drug dealers and robbers.

He said that for too long the fight against organized crime has been concentrated on the leadership and that now it’s important “to fight crime at every stage.”

Mr. Garcia Luna made his comments Wednesday at the annual International Conference for Drug Control in Cancun.

SUDAN

Sudan accuses Israel of airstrike

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