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High-ranking Colombian kidnap victims killed

© St. Petersburg Times
published May 6, 2003

MEDELLIN, Colombia - A state governor and a former defense minister who were kidnapped by leftist rebels a year ago as they led a peace march have been killed, a family member said.

President Alvaro Uribe told family members that Antioquia state Gov. Guillermo Gaviria and former Defense Minister Gilberto Echeverri had been killed. Officials refused to publicly comment on the deaths.

Medellin radio stations broadcast a communique allegedly received from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as the FARC, saying the two men were killed during an army rescue attempt.

U.S. envoy meets with Palestinian leader

JERUSALEM - An American envoy trying to generate momentum for a new Middle East peace initiative said on Monday that Palestinians must halt violence and that Israel must ease tough security measures to nudge the plan forward.

The envoy, Assistant Secretary of State William J. Burns, conferred with the recently installed Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Burns pointedly avoided the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, who has been shunned by the Bush administration for nearly a year.

Secretary of State Colin Powell is expected in the region this weekend.

Chinese leaders console relatives of submariners

BEIJING - In another step toward official candor, the television news on Monday night showed China's two top leaders comforting several relatives of the 70 men who died in a mysterious submarine accident.

The two leaders - Jiang Zemin, the former Communist Party chief who retains the post of military chairman, and Hu Jintao, the party head, state president and deputy chairman of the military - were also shown touring the submarine, which was towed to its home port near Dalian in northeast China after the accident.

The catastrophe aboard Submarine 361 was first announced Friday night. When and how the crew members died, and how the vessel was so easily salvaged, have not been disclosed.

According to one naval officer who spoke with a foreign reporter, the accident occurred on April 16, when the ship's diesel engines failed to shut down during descent and sucked all the oxygen out of the cabins, suffocating the crew.

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