Ruthless Druglord Killed in Rio Slum

FLAVIO ''NEGAO'' PIRES DA CONCEICAO, reputed to be one of the most ruthless leaders of Rio de Janeiro's drug gangs, was killed Saturday in a gun battle with police, a police spokesman said.

Witnesses said more than 50 members of the police special forces raided the sprawling Vigario Geral shantytown and headed straight toward Negao's secret hideout. One police sergeant was killed in the shootout.

Under presidential decree, Brazil's Army entered Rio and has since clamped down on several slums, cutting off entrances and searching all residents.

Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso on Jan. 20 signed an agreement with the Rio State government to keep the Army rooting out the drug trade and controlling the violence that threatens Brazil's best-known city. The original decree expired this month.

He said, she said continues in Peru

PRESIDENT ALBERTO FUJIMORI'S estranged wife and members of her party lifted a hunger strike on Jan. 20 in what she called a truce aimed at winning reconsideration of an electoral board ruling.

Susana Higuchi, who was admitted to a hospital on Jan. 18, 24 hours after she declared a hunger strike, met with Santiago Murray, head of an Organization of American States election observer team in Peru.

Shortly afterward, she issued a communique urging party members to lift their hunger strike ''as a truce until the electoral board reconsiders their decision.'' She threatened to resume the strike Tuesday.

On Jan. 16, the National Electoral Board disqualified Ms. Higuchi's party from the race for congressional elections to be held in April. It reiterated the decision on Jan. 18, and, according to Peru's electoral law, the board's rulings cannot be appealed.

Higuchi moved out of Government Palace soon after protesting the elections law and began making accusations about corruption in her husband's government. President Fujimori responded by stripping her of her official duties.

When she later tried to register as a presidential candidate, she was rejected by the elections board for failing to gather enough signatures.

- Reuters

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