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Massacre leaves 29 dead on ranch in Guatemala

Assailants killed at least 29 people — decapitating most of the victims — on a ranch in a part of northern Guatemala plagued by drug cartels, national police said Sunday.

The massacre took place early Sunday in the town of Caserio La Bomba in Peten province near the Mexico border, according to National Civil Police spokesman Donald Gonzalez. Among the 29 dead were two children and two women.

It is one of the worst massacres since the end of Guatemala's 36-year civil war in 1996.

Gonzalez said police are investigating whether the attack is related to Saturday's killing in Peten of Haroldo Leon, the brother of alleged Guatemalan drug boss Juan Jose "Juancho" Leon.

Juancho Leon was killed in 2008 in an ambush that authorities blame on Mexico's Zetas drug cartel, which has wrested control of the drug trade beyond Mexico.

WASHINGTON

Gingrich rejects GOP Medicare plan

Days after formally announcing his candidacy for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, Newt Gingrich on Sunday sharply criticized a plan by House Republicans that would drastically overhaul Medicare, the federal health care program for retirees.

Gingrich, the former speaker of the House who led a conservative resurgence in the 1990s, said on NBC's Meet the Press that the GOP Medicare plan was "too big a jump" for Americans and compared it to the health care overhaul championed by President Barack Obama.

ASHEVILLE, N.C.

Billy Graham gains strength, goes home

The Rev. Billy Graham was back at his North Carolina home Sunday after being hospitalized for five days with pneumonia.

Graham's doctors at Mission Hospital in Asheville said the 92-year-old evangelist had responded well to treatment and regained strength.

"We expect continuing recuperation at home with very gradual recovery, returning to normal activities over several weeks," Dr. Lucian Rice, Graham's primary care physician, said in a news release from the hospital. "I'm delighted that he has come back this fast."

AURORA, Ill.

Six die in fire in apartment building

Six people were killed and at least a dozen others injured when a fire raced through their apartment building Sunday morning in Aurora, trapping residents and forcing some to jump from their windows. At least 12 people were injured.

At least five people were rescued by firefighters from the third floor of the building in the city about 50 miles west of Chicago, police and fire officials said. Of the dead, there were two women and a man in their 30s and 40s, officials said, and three boys, ages 8 months, 6 and 9.

Iran

President dismisses criticisms of actions

Iran's president on Sunday dismissed criticism of appointments and dismissals from his Cabinet without parliamentary approval.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's remarks in a televised speech risked widening a rift with the Parliament and with hard-liners intent on limiting his power or even impeaching him. Ahmadinejad decided to streamline his Cabinet by combining eight ministries into four. The Parliament insisted it must approve the appointments, but he refused. Instead, he appointed caretaker ministers, including himself as oil minister.

Massacre leaves 29 dead on ranch in Guatemala 05/16/11 [Last modified: Monday, May 16, 2011 12:12am]

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