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01:30, 27 June 2017 Tuesday
Update: 09:57, 06 October 2012 Saturday

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US border agent in Arizona killed by friendly fire-FBI
US border agent in Arizona killed by friendly fire-FBI

Friendly fire probably killed a U.S. Border Patrol agent in Arizona near the Mexican border this week, the FBI said

World Bulletin/News Desk

Friendly fire probably killed a U.S. Border Patrol agent in Arizona near the Mexican border this week, the FBI said on Friday, citing "strong preliminary indications" from the ongoing investigation.

Before daybreak on Tuesday, Nicholas Ivie was one of three agents responding on foot to a tripped ground sensor, in a well-known smuggling corridor, when gunfire erupted.

They were a few miles north of the border, near the tiny border town of Naco. A second agent was wounded in the incident, but has since been released from the hospital, and the third agent was unharmed.

Ivie was the fourth Border Patrol agent to die in violent circumstances in less than two years in Arizona. His death heightened concern about border security in a state at the forefront of the national immigration debate.

"While it is important to emphasize that the FBI's investigation is actively continuing, there are strong preliminary indications that the death of United States Border Patrol Agent Nicholas J. Ivie and the injury to a second agent was the result of an accidental shooting incident involving only the agents," the FBI said in a statement.

Commander Jeffrey Self of the Customs and Border Protection's joint field command in Arizona told reporters he met with the Ivie family on Friday about the possibility the shooting was a "tragic accident, the result of friendly fire."

U.S. authorities had previously released scant details about the circumstances of the shootings.

The agents were tracking footprints before the incident, said Carol Capas, spokeswoman for the Cochise County Sheriff's Office, which has jurisdiction over the area and is investigating the shootings along with the FBI.

Mexican officials said two men were arrested this week in a military operation near the city of Agua Prieta, a few miles across the border from the shooting scene.

U.S. authorities have declined to comment on those arrests. Capas said her office had not been officially notified of any arrests.

Ivie, 30, had been an agent for over six years, Self said.

Matthew Benson, a spokesman for Arizona Republican Governor Jan Brewer, on Friday defended her comments made soon after the shooting, in which she criticized the federal government for inaction on securing the porous border with Mexico.

"The governor does not make statements lightly on something like this," Benson said. "Her initial remarks were based upon the best information available at the time from law enforcement. Whether this was a friendly fire incident or not, that does not change the tragedy that has occurred here."

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, a former Arizona governor, held talks with law enforcement officials on Friday at the Border Patrol station where Ivie worked.

Kevin Goates, the Ivie family spokesman, declined to comment on the FBI announcement of the preliminary findings in the case.

He said Napolitano had met with Ivie's widow, Christy, and other family members.



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Cyprus president seeks peace deal in Switzerland
Cyprus president seeks peace deal in Switzerland

Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades said Monday he hopes to clinch a reunification deal laying out a new security blueprint for the divided island during a crunch summit in Switzerland this week. Anastasiades will attend United Nations-backed talks at the Alpine Crans-Montana ski resort Wednesday with "complete determination and goodwill... to achieve a desired solution", he said in a statement. He said he hopes to "abolish the anachronistic system of guarantees and intervention rights", with a deal providing for the withdrawal of the Turkish army. The eastern Mediterranean island has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded its northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece. Turkey maintains around 35,000 troops in northern Cyprus. The so-called guarantor powers of Turkey, Britain and Greece retain the right to intervene militarily on the island. Greek and Turkish Cypriots are at odds over a new security blueprint, but their leaders are under pressure to reach an elusive peace deal. "I am going to Switzerland to participate in the Cyprus conference, with the sole aim and intent of solving the Cyprus problem," Anastasiades said. Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci is also set to attend the summit, which is expected to last at least 10 days. Greece, Turkey and Britain will send envoys along with an observer from the European Union. UN-led talks on the island hit a wall in late May after the sides failed to agree terms to advance toward a final summit. Unlocking the security question would allow Anastasiades and Akinci to make unprecedented concessions on core issues. But they have major differences on what a new security blueprint should look like. Anastasiades's internationally recognised government, backed by Athens, seeks an agreement to abolish intervention rights, with Turkish troops withdrawing from the island on a specific timeline. Turkish Cypriots and Ankara argue for some form of intervention rights and a reduced number of troops remaining in the north. Turkish Cypriots want the conference to focus on broader issues of power-sharing, property rights and territory for the creation of a new federation. Much of the progress to date has been based on strong personal rapport between Anastasiades and Akinci, leader of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. But that goodwill has appeared frayed in the build-up to their meeting in Switzerland. The Greek Cypriot presidential election next February has also complicated the landscape, as has the government's search for offshore oil and gas, which Ankara argues should be suspended until the negotiations have reached an outcome.