8 Gunned down in Brazil's largest city


The death toll from an overnight shooting spree in greater Sao Paulo stands at eight, authorities in the Brazilian metropolis said.

Nine people were shot in separate incidents in the Sao Paulo suburb of Osasco, but police say they suspect the same group was behind all of the violence.

After initially suggesting the shootings were connected to the celebration following Wednesday night's victory of the Palmeiras soccer club in the Copa do Brasil competition, authorities later concluded the shooters simply exploited the presence of crowds on the streets after midnight.

The perpetrators fired indiscriminately from moving cars and motorcycles, police said.




Mexico nabs alleged gang kingpin


Army soldiers have detained the suspected leader of a criminal gang active in southern Mexico, the Defense Secretariat said in a statement.

The arrest of Cleotilde Toribio Renteria, purported leader of the Guerreros Unidos gang, occurred Monday in this capital's Santa Fe business district, home to the headquarters of multinational companies and luxury apartment buildings.

The suspect is accused of murders, kidnappings and extortion, the secretariat said Wednesday.

The army also detained Mario Saul Farfan, suspected money handler for that criminal gang, which operates in Guerrero state and the tourist corridor of the neighboring state of Morelos.




Aid to Spanish banks to be disbursed in 4 tranches


The euro zone will disburse up to 100 billion euros ($122 billion) in loans to Spanish banks in four tranches, including as much as 25 billion euros to "bad banks" that are to be created to isolate toxic real-estate assets.

The Dutch government unveiled these latest details of the aid package hours before that country's lawmakers approved the Netherlands' contribution.

A document posted on the Dutch Finance Ministry's Web site indicates the loans will be disbursed in four tranches following analysis of Spanish banks' loan portfolios and the results of a stress test that is to be carried out to determine those institutions' precise capital needs and which will be completed by the second half of September 2012.

The first tranche of 30 billion euros ($36.6 billion), to be available at the end of July, will be kept in reserve by the European Financial Stability Facility, or EFSF, and used for emergency needs.




Colombian rebels say they downed air force plane


Colombia's FARC guerrillas said that they shot down an air force plane earlier this week during clashes in the southwestern province of Cauca.

"The latest combat, executed yesterday (Wednesday) at 3:30 p.m., in the Paleton district of the municipality of Jambalo, resulted in the downing of a Super Tucano plane by our anti-aircraft fire and the deaths of its two occupants," the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, said in a statement.

The rebels said they handed over the body of one of the dead crewmen to the International Red Cross, which recovered the other body independently.

The FARC's claim contrasts with comments Thursday from Colombia's air force chief, Gen. Tito Saul Pinilla, who said there was "no indication the airplane was shot down" and described the incident as a "air accident that must be investigated."




3 Peasants slain in Honduras land dispute


Three farmers have been slain since July 2 in Aguan, a region on Honduras' Caribbean coast torn by conflict between peasants and wealthy landowners, a human rights organization said.

The Permanent Human Rights Observatory of Aguan blamed security forces for the killings and demanded the withdrawal of the army from the area, which lies in Colon province.

The body of one victim was found on a palm-oil plantation "in possession" of magnate Miguel Facusse, the observatory's Heriberto Aleman said at a press conference in Tegucigalpa.

An accord signed more than a year ago by the Honduran government, plantation owners and an organization representing the peasants called for more than 4,000 hectares (9,876 acres) of land to be distributed among landless families in Aguan.

The agreement has yet to be implemented and around 60 people have died in Colon during the last four years in the conflict pitting peasants against private security guards employed by palm-oil barons, according to the National Human Rights Commission.




Colombian Indians evict soldiers from outpost


Army troops guarding a cluster of telephone towers in the southwestern province of Cauca were driven out by some 100 Indians as leaders of indigenous communities in the area appealed to a prominent Spanish jurist to represent them in talks with the Colombian government.

Members of the Indigenous Guard took down gates and filled in the trenches of the military outpost on Berlin mountain, near the town of Toribio.

"At this moment we are advancing in the seizing of control," Feliciano Valencia, leader of the Association of Indigenous Governments of North Cauca, told Efe by telephone from Toribio.

He asked that Baltasar Garzon, a former judge of Spain's National Court who became famous after indicting late Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, help facilitate a dialogue with the government of President Jose Manuel Santos.




Mexico bird-flu outbreak costs economy $50 mn


An outbreak of avian flu in the western state of Jalisco has claimed 2.5 million chickens and caused $50 million in losses, a representative of the Mexican poultry sector said.

"The industry will fail to produce $50 million, not only from the cost of the (dead) birds, but also from the intrinsic value of production, the generation of wealth and of indirect jobs in other fields," Cesar de Anda, vice chairman of the International Egg Commission, told Efe.

De Anda is part of an inter-institutional task force seeking solutions to the crisis spurred by the outbreak of the H7N3 virus in Jalisco, which accounts for 55 percent of Mexican egg output.

The latest report from Mexico's food safety agency, Senasica, says 2.5 million chickens have died of the flu or been slaughtered, while another 3.4 million birds are carriers of the virus.

Japan, the main foreign customer for Mexican eggs, has resumed imports from Mexico, but European and African countries continue to bar eggs from the Latin American nation, De Anda said.




11 Die in violent incidents in northern Mexico


Eleven people were killed over the past 24 hours in northern Mexico, five in clashes between soldiers and suspected gang members in Ciudad Victoria and six more in violent incidents in the industrial city of Monterrey, officials said.

In Ciudad Victoria, capital of the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, a shootout erupted Wednesday after a military patrol tried to search an SUV carrying several armed men.

The state Attorney General's Office said a pursuit began shortly after 2:00 p.m. when the vehicle sped away, leading to an exchange of high-caliber weapons fire.

The state Attorney General's Office said three purported criminals were killed by soldiers at a public square and two others were slain on another avenue.

Elsewhere, two traffic police and four other people were killed in Monterrey, capital of the neighboring state of Nuevo Leon, the State Investigations Agency, or AEI, reported.




7 Found beheaded in central Mexico


Seven decapitated bodies were found in the central Mexican town of Jojutla, the Morelos state Attorney General's Office said.

The bodies were inside a pick-up truck abandoned next to a gas station, while the severed heads were left nearby.

Police made the gruesome discovery after receiving an anonymous telephone tip, the AG's office said, adding that the truck had been reported stolen.

Authorities have yet to identify any of the victims and autopsies will be required to determine the cause of death.