International roundup

Por News Agencies
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The two Americans whose abduction in Mexico was captured in a video that showed them caught in a cartel shootout have been found dead, while the others who were kidnapped with them were found alive, with one wounded.

Tamaulipas Gov. Américo Villarreal did not provide details on the extent of the wounded person’s injuries.

The surviving Americans were taken to the border near Brownsville, Texas, in a convoy of Mexican ambulances and SUVs.

It was not immediately clear if the bodies of the deceased were also being returned to the U.S.

The vehicles sped down a long dirt road escorted by Mexican military Humvees, armored vehicles, state police and National Guard in trucks with mounted .50-caliber machine guns.

The FBI had said Sunday it was searching with Mexican authorities for the missing U.S. citizens.

 A relative of one of them said Monday that the group had traveled together from South Carolina so one of them could get a tummy tuck from a doctor in the border city of Matamoros, where Friday’s kidnapping took place.

Shortly after entering Mexico they were caught amid fighting between rival cartel groups in the city. 

A video showed them being loaded into the back of a pickup truck by gunmen.

Officials said a Mexican woman also died in Friday’s crossfire.

The U.S. citizens were found in a rural area east of Matamoros called Ejido Longoreño on the way to an area on the Gulf coast known as “Bagdad Beach,” according to a state authority who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the case. 

Word of their location came to authorities before dawn Tuesday.

Villarreal confirmed the deaths by phone during a morning news conference by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, saying details about the four abducted Americans had been confirmed by prosecutors.

López Obrador said one suspect was in custody.

“Those responsible will be found and they are going to be punished,” he said, referencing arrests made in the 2019 killings of nine U.S.-Mexican dual citizens in Sonora near the U.S. border.

Mexico’s president complained about the U.S. media’s coverage of the missing Americans, accusing them of sensationalism. 

“It’s not like that when they kill Mexicans in the United States, they go quiet like mummies.”


Colombian President Gustavo Petro has asked prosecutors to investigate accusations against his brother and one of his sons that could deal a blow to his presidency and undermine his plans for peace and to fight corruption.

Petro, a former guerrilla who was elected as Colombia’s first leftist president last year, has promised to battle endemic corruption and bring “total peace” to the South American country which only recently, in 2016, signed a peace pact largely ending decades of internal war.

The prosecutor’s office said it had started looking into the accusation against Nicolás Petro, the president’s son, made by his former partner that he kept irregular donations to his father’s presidential campaign.

Meanwhile, the president’s brother is accused of involvement in a ring that allegedly received benefits for promising to help drug traffickers enroll in the government’s “total peace” program.

“I have a responsibility to be loyal to the votes that many of you cast for me,” the president said the day before he asked for both cases to be investigated.

Nicolás Petro’s ex girlfriend, Day Vásquez, has said that he received improper money from donations to his father’s campaign.

In an interview with Semana magazine, Vásquez said the president’s son received more than 600 million Colombian pesos (about $125,000) from Samuel Santander Lopesierra, who is known as the “Marlboro Man” and was imprisoned in the United States for drug trafficking.

The donation “never legally reached the campaign because he kept the money as well as others,” Vásquez said without providing proof. 

She added that the President had no knowledge of the money.

“Everything has been behind the father’s back,” she said.

According to Vásquez, Nicólas Petro, who is a lawmaker in Atlantico province, also received up to 400 million pesos (around $83,000) from Alfonso del Cristo Hilsaca, a businessman from northern Colombia.

The president’s son denied the accusations, claiming to not know either Lopesierra or Hilsaca.

“I have not met or received any type of political, personal or economic favor from any questionable character,” he said in a statement.

President Petro has six children.

There have also been complaints made against the president’s brother, Juan Fernando Petro, in connection with a network of lawyers and organizations that allegedly took money to link drug traffickers and people wanted for extradition with the government’s “total peace” program.

Colombia’s 2016 peace pact was with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, but smaller groups remained. President Petro has proposed negotiations with such groups for their members to turn themselves in to the justice system in exchange for benefits.


The influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un warned Tuesday that the country is ready to take “quick, overwhelming action” against the United States and South Korea, as the allies expand their regular military drills.

Kim Yo Jong’s statement came a day after the United States flew a nuclear-capable B-52 bomber to the Korean Peninsula for a joint drill with South Korean warplanes. The U.S. and South Korean militaries are also preparing to revive their largest field exercises later this month.

“We keep our eye on the restless military moves by the U.S. forces and the South Korean puppet military and are always on standby to take appropriate, quick and overwhelming action at any time according to our judgment,” Kim Yo Jong said in a statement carried by state media.

She didn’t elaborate on any planned actions, but North Korea has often performed missile tests in response to U.S.-South Korean military drills because it views them as an invasion rehearsal.

“The demonstrative military moves and all sorts of rhetoric by the U.S. and South Korea, which go so extremely frantic as not to be overlooked, undoubtedly provide (North Korea) with conditions for being forced to do something to cope with them,” she said.

Monday’s flyover of the B-52 bomber was the latest in a series of U.S.-South Korean aerial exercises involving powerful U.S. aircraft. The U.S. deployed a long-range U.S. B-1B bomber or multiple B-1Bs to the peninsula a few times earlier this year. South Korea said those drills demonstrated the allies’ ability to make a decisive response to potential North Korean aggressions.

Last Friday, the South Korean and U.S. militaries announced they would conduct a computer-simulated command post training from March 13-23 and restore their largest springtime field exercises that were last held in 2018.

The allies had canceled or scaled back some of their regular drills since 2018 to support now-dormant diplomacy with North Korea and guard against the COVID-19 pandemic. But they’ve been restoring their exercises after North Korea last year conducted a record number of missile tests and openly threatened to use its nuclear weapons in potential conflicts with its rivals.

In a separate statement Tuesday, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry called the flyover of the U.S. B-52 bomber a reckless provocation that pushes the situation on the peninsula “deeper into the bottomless quagmire.” The statement, attributed to the unnamed head of the ministry’s foreign news office, said “there is no guarantee that there will be no violent physical conflict” if U.S.-South Korean military provocations continue.

North Korea often unleashes fiery rhetoric in times of heightened animosities with the United States and South Korea. Possible steps North Korea could take include a nuclear test or the launch of a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile targeting the mainland U.S., observers say.

Last month, Kim Yo Jong threatened to turn the Pacific into the North’s firing range. In her statement Tuesday, she said North Korea would consider a possible U.S. attempt to intercept a North Korean ICBM a declaration of war. She cited a South Korean media report saying the U.S. military plans to shoot down a North Korean ICBM if it’s test-launched toward the Pacific.

All known North Korean ICBM tests have been made at steep angles to avoid neighboring countries, and the weapons landed in the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.