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News Wrap: North Korea Cuts Ties as Naval Dispute Deepens

May 25, 2010 at 12:00 AM EDT
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HARI SREENIVASAN: North Korea announced today it will sever all ties with South Korea, this a day after South Korea cut off trade with the North. Last week, the South charged, one of its warships was sunk by a North Korean torpedo in March. It was later raised from the sea. North Korea’s state media said today’s announcement was — quote — “the first phase,” and it warned the south is courting larger trouble. .

WOMAN (through translator): South Korean puppet army gangs have been recently trespassing our territorial waters without restraints. Should the South side’s intrusions into the territorial waters of our side continue, the North will put into force practical military measures to defend its waters. The South side will be held fully accountable for all the ensuing consequences.

HARI SREENIVASAN: North Korea also said its military is bracing for a sacred war, but the South said it had no indication of any unusual activity along the border. Some 28,000 American troops are deployed in South Korea.

The U.S. military commander for the Middle East has authorized new covert operations across the region. The New York Times reported today General David Petraeus signed a secret order last fall. It called for missions in Iran, Yemen, and elsewhere. The report said the order covers surveillance and support for local forces. It doesn’t authorize any offensive action.

In Jamaica today, thousands of police and soldiers assaulted gunmen loyal to a suspected drug lord. It was a third day of violence in Kingston that has killed at least 30 people.

We have a report narrated by Sarah Smith of Independent Television News.

SARAH SMITH: These gangsters are for now in control of parts of Jamaica’s capital. Known as the Shower Posse because of the number of bullets they like to use in shootings, they’re now using their guns to protect their leader from extradition to America.

Heavily armed police officers need their body armor and helmets and their automatic weapons as they make their way through Kingston’s most violent slums, searching the Tivoli Gardens district for Jamaica’s most wanted man…

SARAH SMITH: … coming under fire from unseen gangsters who are determined to stop them from finding and arresting Christopher “Dudus” Coke, a man the U.S. say is one of the world’s most dangerous drug lords.

But to many in Kingston, he’s a local hero, a generous benefactor. The authorities here used to protect Dudus Coke, a man who has ties to the prime minister and his governing Labor Party. For months, they rejected American requests to extradite him on charges of smuggling drugs and trafficking weapons. Now Jamaican soldiers patrolling the streets are the direct consequence of the prime minister, under heavy political pressure, changing his mind to allow the extradition.

BRUCE GOLDING, Jamaican prime minister: I wrestled with the potential conflict between the issues of noncompliance with the terms of the treaty and the unavoidable perception that, because Coke is associated with my constituency, the government’s position was politically contrived.

SARAH SMITH: Scores of bystanders have been injured and taken to hospital, with no end in sight. There are reports tonight the violence is spreading across Kingston to other impoverished neighborhoods.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The U.S. will send 1,200 National Guard troops to help secure the border with Mexico. President Obama also asked Congress today for another half-a-billion dollars for border security. That word came after the president lunched with Senate Republicans, including Jon Kyl of Arizona.

SEN. JON KYL, R-Ariz., minority whip: I tried to make the point that it wasn’t a good idea to try to hold hostage the securing of the border in order to get comprehensive immigration reform passed. It’s important to secure the border simply because of all of the reasons why that is important, and that, ironically, securing the border will make it easier, not more difficult, to later on get comprehensive reform.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The National Guard troops being deployed to the border will work on intelligence, surveillance, and blocking drug traffic.

Wall Street was whipsawed today by everything from European debt to tensions in Korea. Stocks fell sharply at the opening bell, then staged a late rally. The Dow Jones industrial average was down 280 points early, but ended with a loss of 22 points to close at 10043. The Nasdaq fell two points to close below 2211.

Those are some of the day’s major stories — now back to Jim.