NEW ORLEANS -

Police yesterday sought to determine what touched off a wild shootout in a crowd of hundreds of people at a New Orleans playground, where an evening of fun at a block party swiftly turned into a nightmare.

The shootout, combined with the recent shooting of a Good Samaritan who tried to help a woman who was being dragged toward a vehicle, put a city that has long struggled with violence on edge.

"No one feels safe," said Peter Scharf, a Louisiana State University professor who studies crime.

The Sunday night shootout happened as hundreds of people - possibly as many as 500 - gathered at the Bunny Friend Playground in what police described as a block party. A music video was also being filmed there. Police said neither event had a permit.

Officers were nearby overseeing a neighborhood parade when they received reports of a large crowd at the park. The shooting happened while they were on their way over to disperse the gathering. Two groups pulled out weapons and started firing, police said.

Local media reported a mad scramble as terrified people ran from the playground, leaving behind cellphones and IDs. The gunmen escaped.

Seventeen people were wounded, including 11 who were under age 21, authorities said yesterday.

Damien Gaines said he, his two sons, ages 10 and 13, and their 10-year-old cousin had just come home from an athletic awards ceremony. He decided to go to the park with the boys when he heard music. But less than 10 minutes later, he said, an acquaintance he knew only as Peanut strode by, warning him to go home because of the shootout.

Then he heard gunfire - two to three minutes of continuous shooting.

He and the boys ran. Then his younger son said: "Daddy, I'm shot, I'm shot." His blue jeans had turned red. Gaines put the boy on his back, picked up the cousin and ran home, where his older son had already arrived.

The wounded boy was treated at a hospital and released.

Authorities asked witnesses or anyone with video of the incident to come forward. They also planned a community meeting for last night in the park to discuss the shooting.

Family of boy who made clock seeks 15M

IRVING, Texas -

Attorneys for the 14-year-old Muslim boy arrested after taking a homemade clock to his Dallas-area school say he was publicly mistreated and deserves $15 million.

A law firm representing Ahmed Mohamed sent letters yesterday demanding $10 million from the city of Irving and $5 million from the Irving Independent School District. The letters also threaten lawsuits and seek written apologies.

Ahmed took his clock to school in September, and an educator thought it could be a bomb. Ahmed was arrested but never charged. He was suspended from school.

The family accepted a foundation's offer to pay for Ahmed's education in Qatar and moved to the Persian Gulf country.

A spokeswoman said the city was reviewing its letter and had no comment.

2 men charged in death of pastor's wife

INDIANAPOLIS -

Authorities charged two young men with murder yesterday in the fatal shooting of a pastor's pregnant wife during a home invasion that happened after the minister left the couple's Indianapolis home without locking the front door.

Amanda Blackburn, 28, was found partially nude, with her underwear nearby and her shirt pulled up, lying in a pool of blood on her living room floor. She died one day after the Nov. 10 attack on Indianapolis' northwest side.

Her husband, Pastor Davey Blackburn, told police he had left the home's front door unlocked when he departed about 6 a.m. that morning to go to the gym and work out and returned home about 8:20 a.m. to find his wounded wife. The couple's 15-month-old son, Weston, was at home upstairs in a crib but was not harmed in the attack.

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry identified the two men charged with murder as Larry Jo Taylor Jr., 18, and Jalen E. Watson, 21, both of Indianapolis, who face murder, burglary, theft and several other charges. A probable-cause affidavit says that Taylor shot Blackburn three times, including once in the back of the head.

Police seek info on Mali attackers

BAMAKO, Mali -

State media broadcast photos yesterday of the two slain attackers of a luxury hotel in Mali's capital, appealing for anyone who knew them to come forward with information about the gunmen.

The photos of the two young men were taken after Friday's rampage at the Radisson Blu hotel in which 19 people were killed, said Capt. Baba Cisse at the Interior Ministry.

The gunmen, who shouted "God is great!" in Arabic as they attacked, were shot to death by security forces following a more than seven-hour siege in the capital of the West African country.

Officials also put out phone numbers, urging people who might have known them to call with information.

The decision to release the photos came a day after the Islamic extremist group that first claimed responsibility for the attack purported to identify the gunmen in an audio recording, according to Al-Akhbar, a Mauritanian news site that often receives messages from Malian extremists.

The dead included six Russians, three Chinese and one American, as well as victims from Belgium, Israel, Senegal and Mali.