5 Iraqi officials killed in attacks

BAGHDAD - Insurgents killed four members of Iraq's security forces and a city engineer in separate incidents across the Iraqi capital Sunday evening, officials said.

The similar nature of the attacks - all were shootings by assailants armed with silencers - and that they occurred within less than an hour suggested a coordinated campaign to target security officials and government workers.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Iraqi police and hospital officials said gunmen killed an off-duty traffic policeman in a drive-by shooting in Baghdad around 8 p.m., and shot dead an Iraqi army colonel in his car. Two more police officers were killed in separate incidents later Sunday in Baghdad, as was a city engineer northeast of the capital.

- AP

Mexico to reform migration office

MEXICO CITY - Mexico plans a shake-up of its corruption-ridden immigration institute, officials said Sunday, after a year that saw some of the worst atrocities against illegal migrants trekking through the country - including the mass slaughter of 72 Central and South Americans trying to reach the United States.

The dismissals this week will include several top directors of the National Institute for Migration, according to two government officials.

The shake-up comes less than two weeks after El Salvador reported the kidnapping of 50 migrants from a train in the Mexican state of Oaxaca.

On Aug. 24, the bodies of 72 migrants were found at a ranch 100 miles south of the U.S. border crossing they were trying to reach.

Authorities said the migrants were killed by the Zetas drug gang after refusing to work as traffickers.

- AP

Russia grounds plane after crash

MOSCOW - Russia's transport oversight agency on Sunday ordered the country's airlines to stop using Tu-154B planes until the cause of a passenger jet fire and explosion that killed three people is determined.

A spokesman for the agency, Sergei Romanchev, said airlines must obey the order. The state news agency RIA Novosti said there are 14 Tu-154Bs in service in Russia.

The Tu-154B is one variant of the Tu-154 model, which has been in service since the early 1970s and in wide use on Russian internal flights and extensively in other countries.

No cause has been determined for Saturday's fire, which injured 43 people. The fire began as the plane carrying 124 people taxied for takeoff in Surgut, western Siberia. Frightened passengers clawed their way through the smoke-filled cabin to escape. - AP

China sets quota for car licenses

BEIJING - Residents in Beijing, the city ranked as having the world's worst traffic, rushed to apply for new vehicle licenses under a quota system started Jan. 1 as China's government seeks to ease the congestion.

A total of 53,549 applications were made on the first day of the year, more than double the number of license plates to be available each month, the Beijing News reported Sunday.

The government said on Dec. 23 that it would set a monthly quota of 20,000 new vehicle licenses in the Chinese capital. China surpassed the United States last year to become the world's biggest car market. Beijing tied with Mexico City for having the world's worst traffic. - AP