Police detain suspects in Serb assassination

BELGRADE, Serbia-Montenegro

Police hunting for the assassins of Serbia’s prime minister rounded up more than 70 suspected mob figures yesterday and detained two of Slobodan Milosevic’s former senior security chiefs.

The arrests came a day after Zoran Djindjic, 50, was gunned down in Belgrade. The prime minister had made enemies for his pro-Western stance and for declaring war on the organized crime that flourished both under and after former Serb leader Milosevic, now in the Netherlands on trial for Balkan war crimes.

In their first statement since the assassination, police said the arrested suspects had links to an underworld group targeted by Djindjic’s anti-corruption campaign.

The government has accused Zemun Clan – a shadowy crime group including former paramilitaries loyal to Milosevic – of masterminding the attack on Djindjic and several other unsolved murders.

“I assure you we will arrest all responsible and liquidate anyone who resists arrest,” said Dusan Mihajlovic, Serbia’s interior minister.

Acting Prime Minister Nebojsa Covic said more than 70 people were detained, among them former state security chief Jovica Stanisic and his deputy, Franko Simatovic, who was led from his Belgrade home by three hooded policemen with machine guns.

Israeli troops raid West Bank village, 6 killed

JERUSALEM

Two Israelis were killed in hail of Israeli army fire in the West Bank yesterday – a case of mistaken identity that raised new questions about what human rights groups say is the quick draw by soldiers in Palestinian areas.

Several hours later, Israeli troops raiding a West Bank village killed four Palestinian fugitives in a gunbattle, an Israeli general said.

The two men killed by friendly fire, ages 22 and 23, were private guards protecting a mobile phone antenna on a hill near the Palestinian city of Hebron. Their white station wagon, which had red stickers in Hebrew with the words “security” on the sides and hood, was riddled with dozens of bullets.

The shooting began at about 1 p.m., some time after Israeli forces in the Hebron area had received warnings that Palestinian gunmen were trying to attack the nearby Jewish settlement of Pnei Hever, the army said.

Elite troops lying in wait for armed Palestinians were told by a lookout post that a gunman had been spotted running toward a white car parked on a deserted hillside, Israeli military reporters said.

Govt. approves new AIDS-ghting drug

WASHINGTON

The government yesterday approved the first in a new class of AIDS-fighting drugs, a dramatically different treatment that provides an important option for many patients and opens new avenues for researchers.

Fuzeon works for people who have become resistant to other HIV treatments, and as many as 100,000 patients in the United States could benefit.

Manufacturers said the drug – expected to cost about $20,000 per year – should be available by month’s end, though only to a limited number of people at first.

Fuzeon, a fusion inhibitor, fights AIDS in a completely new way.

It works by preventing the AIDS virus from invading the white blood cells that are the primary targets of HIV. By contrast, today’s AIDS drugs all work after the virus already has invaded those cells, by blocking either of two substances that HIV uses to reproduce and spread.

FDA proposes bar code labels for drugs

WASHINGTON

Every medication given in the hospital soon will carry a label with a supermarket-style bar code that can be matched to patients and help ensure they get the right dose of the right drug at the right time.

Yesterday’s proposal by the Food and Drug Administration is part of a series of government steps to help prevent deadly medical mistakes that claim tens of thousands of lives each year.

An estimated 7,000 hospitalized patients die annually because of drug errors, where a wrong drug or a wrong dose is dispensed. The bar code system will allow nurses and others to check electronically that the drug is the proper one. “I am so excited about the possibility we now have to reduce patient deaths and improve patient safety and the quality of health care in America,” Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said.

Colon cancer may be found using blood test

WASHINGTON

Researchers have found a biological marker that may lead to a simple blood test to screen for colon cancer, possibly replacing some invasive techniques now used to check for the killer disease.

A subtle molecular change that switches on a usually inactive gene has been linked by researchers at Johns Hopkins University to an increased risk of developing colon cancer.

The molecular change can be detected in a blood test and could one day be used routinely to predict a patient’s chances of developing colon cancer, said Andrew Feinberg, senior author of the study appearing Today in the journal Science.

“Up to now, there have been no tests for common cancer risks,” said Feinberg. “There are for other diseases, but not for cancer. Ultimately, that’s what we hope this test will do.”

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