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Suspects in slaying of Serb leader shot, killed

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 28, 2003


BELGRADE, Serbia-Montenegro -- Police shot and killed two major suspects in the assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic as they resisted arrest late Thursday, the government said.

Dusan Spasojevic and Milan Lukovic were leaders of the Zemun Clan, a crime gang that has been accused of masterminding the March 12 assassination of Djindjic, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

"The suspects resisted arrest and opened fire on police officers. . . . They were killed in an ensuing shooting," the ministry statement said.

The ministry revealed no details about what specific role the two allegedly played in the assassination, and police were not immediately available for comment.

Putin pushes for amnesty for rebels in Chechnya

MOSCOW -- Russian President Vladimir Putin called on officials in Chechnya on Thursday to draft an amnesty law for rebels and to lay the groundwork for providing a wide degree of autonomy, the latest move in the Kremlin push to re-exert control over the war-battered republic.

It was unclear what the amnesty terms would be, but it apparently would go beyond what Russia offers to rebels who lay down their weapons and have not participated in terrorism. The referendum was promoted by the Kremlin as a first step toward restoring civil order in Chechnya.

Venezuela strike leader takes exile in Costa Rica

CARACAS, Venezuela -- An opposition leader charged with treason for directing a two-month strike against President Hugo Chavez left Thursday for exile in Costa Rica.

Carlos Ortega, head of the Venezuelan Labor Confederation, was being escorted by federal police from the Costa Rican Embassy to Caracas' international airport for a flight to San Jose, Costa Rica.

Chavez's government granted Ortega safe passage Wednesday, allowing the head of the 1-million-member federation to take advantage of a Costa Rican offer of humanitarian asylum.

Son of British nobility wins seat by election

LONDON -- A son of nobility gained a seat in the House of Lords Thursday, not by blood but through the ballot.

Unlike many of his colleagues in the upper chamber of Parliament, the victor -- Viscount Ullswater, 61 -- can trace his title only as far back as 1921.

For generations in the 700-year-old House of Lords, hereditary peers were simply replaced by their heirs, usually the eldest son. But that was before Prime Minister Tony Blair began reforming the tradition-bound upper chamber. More than 600 of the nobility were ejected in 1999, leaving 92 hereditary peers in what was intended to be an interim step.

Elsewhere . . .

TWO PALESTINIANS KILLED: Two Palestinian police officers were killed and more than a dozen wounded Thursday by missile fire from an Israeli helicopter during a raid on Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip. Three Palestinians were captured, allegedly for firing homemade rockets at Israeli towns.

EU BANS SINGLE-HULLED TANKERS: European Union governments agreed Thursday to ban single-hulled tankers by 2010 in an attempt to reduce the risk of spills like the one that befouled the coast of northwestern Spain last year.

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