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Red Brigades offshoot says it killed Italian official

An offshoot of the Red Brigades terror group said Thursday it killed an Italian economist working on controversial changes in Italy's labor laws. The group also praised the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks against the United States.

A 26-page communique called the killing of economist Marco Biagi part of a global struggle against what the group called "imperialism." The document drew no links, however, between the Italian group and the al-Qaida terrorists held responsible for the attacks on New York and the Pentagon.

Biagi was gunned down Tuesday night outside his home in Bologna by two men on a motorbike. A 52-year-old university professor, Biagi advocated loosening Italy's labor regulations.

While dwelling on Italian politics, the document claiming responsibility said the Sept. 11 suicide hijackings showed "how it is possible to carry out highly destructive attacks in enemy territory, with destabilizing effects, without the use of technologically advanced weapons."

The communique was signed by the Red Brigades for the Building of the Fighting Communist Party. In 1999, a group using the same name said it killed Massimo D'Antona, another economist working on labor reform.

The slaying stunned Italy, which was battered by domestic terrorism in the 1970s and 1980s until the Red Brigades fell dormant for about a decade.

Britain puts off law on fox hunting

LONDON _ Faced with division in Parliament, the government shied away Thursday from a promised ban on fox hunting but pledged final action on a revised proposal in the fall.

Addressing lawmakers at the end of a week of parliamentary name-calling, the minister of rural affairs, Alun Michael, proposed six months of consultation aimed at finding "common ground" for resolving the dispute.

"This is just a recipe for yet more delay, for having this issue running up and down the parliamentary system when there are indeed other issues that we should be discussing," said Ann Widdecombe, an antihunting Conservative.

This week saw the Commons vote overwhelmingly Monday to outlaw fox hunting, and the Lords just as overwhelmingly pass a contrary measure the next day that would restrict the sport but allow it to continue.

Michael said the government would ultimately introduce a proposal to curb hunting.

3 Americans killed in Italy

FLORENCE, Italy _ A busload of American tourists collided with a truck Thursday, killing at least three Americans and injuring several others.

Eighteen Americans and their Italian driver were traveling from Lucca to Florence when a truck going the other way veered into their lane and smashed into the bus, police said.

Two American women and one man were killed at the scene. Several others were taken to hospitals. The truck driver was also injured.

The ANSA news agency reported that all three Americans killed were from Pennsylvania, although police could not confirm this.

EARLY PHOTO: The earliest recorded image taken by photographic means, above, sold at Sotheby's in Paris on Thursday for $443,220. The image, made in 1825, is of a 17th century Dutch engraving.

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