Elite Force in Mexico

Seen as Widely Corrupt

MEXICO CITY -- President Vicente Fox four years ago created an elite force of federal agents modeled on the FBI, but now one in five of its members is under criminal investigation, according to a report by the attorney general's office.

The report said 1,493 members of the Federal Investigation Agency, or AFI, were under investigation "for probably committing crimes," and 457 of those faced prosecution. The AFI employs about 7,000 agents.

Founded in an attempt to end rampant police corruption, the AFI has increasingly been tied to powerful drug trafficking organizations. Last week, eight of its agents were charged in the kidnapping of four men and the videotaped killing of at least one of them. The agents were arrested in August after investigators obtained a video showing four battered and bloodied men confessing to being members of the Gulf drug cartel. One of them was then shot in the head. Authorities say the agents were working for a rival drug group.

ASIA

* KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- An attacker died and an American soldier was injured in a failed assault on a U.S.-led troop convoy in southern Afghanistan, and two U.S. helicopters made emergency landings during combat operations, officials said Sunday.

Five American soldiers were injured when a CH-47 Chinook landed north of Kandahar, and an Afghan soldier was injured in the emergency landing of another helicopter in Uruzgan province.

Qari Mohammed Yousaf, a purported spokesman for the Taliban, asserted the group had shot down one of the helicopters.

* RANGOON, Burma -- Burma's military junta has called on citizens to support a national constitutional convention, which it has held intermittently since 1993, as a step in a seven-stage "road map" toward democracy and free elections. Opponents have called the effort a ploy by military leaders to retain power.

THE AMERICAS

* BOGOTA, Colombia -- A former Colombian senator who paid Marxist rebels to release his two kidnapped sons has been killed in an ambush by the same guerrilla group, police said. Jaime Lozada was killed and his son, Jaime Felipe, was wounded in a leg in an ambush along a country road by suspected rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, a police spokesman said. The rebel group had held Jaime Felipe and his brother, Juan Sebastian, hostage for three years until their release in June 2004, when their father paid a ransom. The group still holds Lozada's wife, Gloria Polanco, who was kidnapped with the two sons in 2001.

EUROPE

* BELFAST -- Hundreds of gay couples in Britain are preparing to make it official on Monday, when they can apply for legal status under a new law allowing same-sex civil partnerships. The law will give homosexual couples the same property and inheritance rights as married heterosexual couples and will entitle them to the same pension, immigration and tax benefits. After a two-week waiting period, they can register their partnerships.

* MOSCOW -- A party slate headed by popular Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov swept to victory in widely watched city council elections, while a struggling coalition of pro-Western parties appeared to win enough votes to survive as a force in Russian politics.

The election had been seen as a preview of parties' strengths as Russia heads toward 2007 parliamentary elections.

With votes counted from 96 percent of polling places, the ruling United Russia party led with 47 percent, followed by the Communist Party with 17 percent. A local coalition calling itself Yabloko-United Democrats had 11 percent.

-- From News Services