- - Wednesday, November 21, 2012

DUBLIN — Ireland’s police force says its officers have arrested 113 suspected drug dealers and seized five marijuana-growing facilities in the nation’s biggest-ever crackdown on triad drug-trafficking gangs.

Police say most of those arrested during raids on 236 properties Tuesday and Wednesday are Chinese and Vietnamese nationals involved in growing, smuggling and selling marijuana in Ireland.

They say many are connected to the biggest Hong Kong-based gang, Wo Shing Wo, and are being directed by triad chieftains based in neighboring Britain.

Most of those arrested are expected to be arraigned this week on charges including drug trafficking, robbery, burglary, arms possession and handling stolen goods.

The five marijuana-growing operations involved 4,200 plants with an estimated street value of $4.5 million.


India hangs gunman from Mumbai attack

MUMBAI — India executed the lone surviving gunman from the 2008 Mumbai terror attack early Wednesday, four years after Pakistani gunmen blazed through India’s financial capital, killing 166 people and throwing relations between the nuclear-armed neighbors into a tailspin.

Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, a Pakistani citizen, was hung in secrecy at a jail in Pune, a city near Mumbai, after Indian President Pranab Mukherjee rejected his plea for clemency.

News of the execution was widely cheered in India, with political parties organizing public celebrations and some people setting off firecrackers.

But for those more deeply touched by the events of 26/11, as the attack is known here, the hanging offered only a partial catharsis.

“This is an incomplete justice as the masterminds and main handlers of 26/11 are still absconding,” said Kavita Karkare, the widow of Hemant Karkare, the chief of Mumbai’s anti-terrorism squad who was killed while pursuing Kasab. “They should also be hanged.”

Indian officials accuse Pakistan’s intelligence agency of working with the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba to plan the attack — an allegation Islamabad denies.

India and Pakistan, which have fought three wars since they were carved out of British India in 1947, suspended peace talks after the Mumbai attack.


N. Korea threatens shelling island if South holds drill

SEOUL — North Korean forces have warned they will shell a border island if South Korea holds a military drill there as planned, the North’s state news agency KCNA said Thursday.

South Korea plans Friday to hold a military drill on Yeonpyeong Island, which was shelled by the North in 2010, to mark the second anniversary of an attack that triggered fears of a full-scale conflict.

“The commemoration of the so-called victorious battle on Yonpyeong Island will lead to the second Yonpyeong Island disaster,” said a Korean People’s Army spokesman, as reported by KCNA.

“World history knows no precedent of commemorating a defeated battle. The projected ridiculous farce only invites derision and censure from people. Their scenario is to spark off a new war in the area,” said KCNA.

Yeonpyeong lies just south of the border declared by U.N. forces after the 1950-1953 Korean War, but north of a disputed sea border declared by Pyongyang’s isolated authoritarian government.

The Nov. 23, 2010, shelling of the island left two South Korean marines and two civilians dead in one of the most serious border incidents since the war that split the peninsula in two.


Egypt confiscates warheads smuggled from Libya

CAIRO — Egyptian authorities have confiscated trucks carrying explosive warheads and a variety of small arms ammunition smuggled from Libya, the interior minister said Wednesday.

A flood of weapons from its western neighbor has added to Egypt’s security concerns as police have yet to fully return to their duties since last year’s uprising.

Smuggled weapons often fall into the hands of Islamist militants in the Sinai Peninsula, or pass via underground tunnels to the Gaza Strip, the site of fierce exchanges over the past week between Hamas militants and Israeli forces.

Egyptian Interior Minister Ahmed Gamal Eddin said at a news conference in Cairo that authorities spent weeks in the desert investigating the operation before they finally seized the pickup trucks.

They were carrying 108 warheads for Soviet-designed Grad rockets, near Marsa Matrouh, 270 miles northwest of Cairo on the Mediterranean coast. Suspected smugglers had fled the scene.

Also on Wednesday in Egypt’s troubled northern Sinai region, troops from a multinational observer force fired on protesters demonstrating outside their base against the Israeli offensive in Gaza.

Egyptian security officials said that one person was killed and another injured.

The 12-nation observer force is part of the peace treaty signed by Egypt and Israel in 1979. U.S. troops make up the largest contingent of the 1,650-strong force.


FARC raises concerns, but peace talks continue

HAVANA — FARC rebels accused the Colombian government Wednesday of harassing relatives of a senior rebel, highlighting lingering tensions but not disrupting a third day of peace talks in Havana.

FARC spokeswoman Viviana Hernandez read aloud a statement alleging that Colombian police had threatened the relatives of western bloc unit commander Francisco Gonzalez as they sought information about his whereabouts.

“Members of the police, disguised as civilians, are pressuring the family to prosecute and take custody of their young children unless they reveal information” about his location, the spokeswoman said.

Ms. Hernandez read her remarks as the Colombian government delegation, led by former Vice President Humberto de la Calle, arrived for the third day of high-stakes talks at a Havana convention center.

Despite the unexpected development, leading FARC delegate Ivan Marquez expressed optimism about the outcome of the dialogue, which is expected to run into next week, before entering the closed-door talks.

Negotiations aimed at ending Latin America’s longest-running insurgency began Monday with the FARC declaring a unilateral two-month cease-fire, after a preliminary round of talks last month in Norway.

President Juan Manuel Santos has stressed that his government is not yet bound by the cease-fire and that military operations against the FARC will continue until a deal is brokered.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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