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The Journal Gazette

Monday, June 19, 2017 1:00 am

N. Korea claims envoys 'mugged'

News Services

NEW YORK – North Korea claimed Sunday that U.S. officials forcibly seized a diplomatic package from one of their delegations at John F. Kennedy Airport, calling it an “illegal and heinous act of provocation.”

The official Korean Central News Agency said officials were returning from a United Nations conference on rights of people with disabilities Friday when they were “literally mugged.”

U.S. Department of Homeland Security spokesman David Lapan said Sunday its officers did seize multiple media items and packages from three North Koreans who, according to the U.S. State Department, were not accredited members of North Korea's Mission to the U.N. and had no diplomatic immunity.

“The reported aggression was initiated by the North Koreans,” Lapan said. “The individuals were released without further incident but subsequently refused to board their departing flight without the items that had been seized.”

It wasn't immediately clear why the items were taken.

Iraqi troops launch Mosul offensive

U.S.-backed Iraqi troops pushed into the last Islamic State stronghold in Mosul on Sunday, launching a major battle for the Old City where 150,000 civilians are believed to be trapped and risk being used as human shields by the extremists.

The push for the Old City is the final major fight of an eight-month campaign to drive the militants from Iraq's second largest city. Iraq state TV aired live footage showing thick black smoke rising from the Old City, with the sound of gunfire rattling inside. It said leaflets were distributed urging civilians to leave through five “safe corridors.”

32 injured when lodge deck collapses

Thirty-two people were taken to hospitals after the second-story deck of a Montana lodge collapsed during a memorial event for a firefighter, authorities said.

Six people were airlifted via helicopter Saturday after the collapse of the deck in Glacier Presbyterian Camp, Lake County Sheriff Don Bell told NBC Montana. Five people were in critical condition, he told the TV stations. The Somers Rural Fire Department said those injured range in age from children to the elderly.

About 50 people had gathered to remember William Nickel, a longtime Flathead Valley firefighter who died in April.

Police say witness disrupted exorcism

A Northern California woman was in custody Sunday on suspicion of beating, biting and choking her 11-year-old daughter in an attempt to perform an exorcism on the child, authorities said.

Kimberly Felder, 45, stripped her daughter naked and shoved sand into her mouth and eyes before a witness tried to stop the attack Friday at a secluded beach in Ferndale, a coastal town 115 miles north of San Francisco, the Humboldt County Sheriff's office said.

The witness, John Marciel, said Felder told him she was trying to remove demons from her daughter and continued to hit the girl's head with a piece of driftwood while he tried to restrain Felder. He said he stayed on the phone with 911 operators as he tried to wrestle Felder to the ground. Deputies arrived and placed Felder in handcuffs.