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The world in brief

Grenade-toting drone spotted in Mexico

MEXICO CITY -- Authorities in the northern Mexican state of Baja California said a drone carrying two deactivated grenades landed on a property owned by the state's security chief.

The state government said in a statement that Gerardo Manuel Sosa Olachea does not use the property in Tecate and was not present, but state police guarding it saw the drone.

Sosa Olachea said Tuesday that the incident was unfortunate and the result of the state's work against organized crime.

In October, authorities in the north-central state of Guanajuato said they captured men carrying a drone equipped with a powerful bomb and remote-controlled detonator.

At the time, authorities said only that the men belonged to a "crime cell."

Iran envoy charged in plot in Germany

BERLIN -- An Iranian diplomat was charged Wednesday in Germany with activity as a foreign agent and conspiracy to commit murder.

Assadollah Assadi, a Vienna-based diplomat, is accused of contracting a couple in Belgium to attack an annual meeting of an exiled Iranian opposition group in Villepinte, near Paris, German federal prosecutors said.

He gave the Antwerp couple a device containing 500 grams of the explosive TATP during a meeting in Luxembourg in late June, prosecutors said in a statement.

Assadi was detained earlier this month near the German city of Aschaffenburg on a European warrant after the couple with Iranian roots were stopped in Belgium and authorities reported finding powerful explosives in their car.

In their statement, German prosecutors allege that Assadi, who has been registered as a diplomat at the Iranian Embassy in Vienna since 2014, was a member of an Iranian intelligence service whose tasks "primarily include the intensive observation and combating of opposition groups inside and outside of Iran."

Belgian authorities also accuse Assadi of being part of the plot, reportedly aimed at setting off explosives at the annual rally of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq group in France. Mujahedeen-e-Khalq is an exiled opposition group based near Paris.

Brits fear nerve agent still lying around

LONDON -- The nerve agent novichok could remain active for 50 years if kept in a sealed container, Britain's top counterterrorism police officer said Wednesday, adding that he cannot yet "guarantee" there are no traces of the lethal poison in southwestern England.

Neil Basu, an assistant commissioner with the Metropolitan Police, told residents of Amesbury on Tuesday night that police are searching for the container that held the nerve agent believed to have poisoned two people on June 30.

He said there is so far no definitive forensic proof that the novichok that poisoned 44-year-old Dawn Sturgess and 45-year-old Charlie Rowley was from the same batch used in March against ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

Basu said this can only be proved by scientists conducting detailed analysis but that any other explanation is extremely unlikely.

"This is a very rare substance banned by the international community and for there to be two separate, distinct incidents in one small English county is implausible to say the least," he said.

The nerve agent was produced in the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Britain has accused the Russia of the attack on the Skripals, an allegation denied by the Kremlin.

Sturgess died Sunday; officials say Rowley has shown slight but significant improvement and is now conscious.

Turkey targets televangelist, followers

ANKARA, Turkey -- Turkish police on Wednesday detained an Islamic televangelist and were seeking hundreds of people linked to him, accusing them of a variety of crimes.

Istanbul police said warrants were issued against Adnan Oktar and 234 of his followers and that financial-crime units were carrying out operations in Istanbul and four other cities to detain them.

Oktar was detained in his villa in Istanbul's Cengelkoy district, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported. Anadolu said 79 of the suspects had been arrested as of Wednesday.

Police said accusations against Oktar and his group include forming a gang with criminal intent, sexual abuse of minors, sexual assault, kidnapping, blackmail, fraud, money laundering and exploitation of religious sentiments.

In February, Turkey's media watchdog imposed fines on Oktar's TV channel and suspended broadcasts of shows where the televangelist holds theological discussions surrounded by glamorous women known as "kittens."

Oktar -- also known by his pen name Harun Yahya -- has written numerous books promoting conspiracy theories.

Asked why he was being held, Oktar told journalists as he entered the hospital: "It's a British plot." He did not explain his comment.

A Section on 07/12/2018

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