World and Nation

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Two Boston Firefighters Die in Restaurant Blaze

Two Boston firefighters were killed and 11 others were injured battling a blaze that appeared to start in a grease-caked ventilation shaft at a Chinese restaurant on Wednesday night, officials said Thursday. They were the first Boston firefighters to die in the line of duty since 1994.

Chief Kevin MacCurtain said the fire burned in a drop ceiling for about an hour, undetected by patrons and staff at the Tai Ho Mandarin and Cantonese Restaurant, a popular place for takeout, in the West Roxbury neighborhood.

When smoke and flames started punching through the ceiling about 9 p.m., the restaurant evacuated and people called for help, MacCurtain said.

After firefighters arrived, officials said, the restaurant’s air conditioning system partly collapsed, opening a hole in the roof that fed oxygen to the fire and caused it to flame out violently.

The flames punched through the ceiling, engulfing the firefighters below. Killed were Paul Cahill, 55, of Scituate, a 14-year veteran, and Warren Payne, 53, of Canton, who spent his 19-year career at the same company, Engine 30, Ladder 25 on Centre Street.

U.S. Investigation to Focus on Whether Gonzales Told Truth

The Justice Department’s internal watchdog disclosed Thursday that he was investigating whether sworn statements to Congress by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales were “intentionally false, misleading or inappropriate.”

The first official confirmation that Gonzales is under investigation within the executive branch over the truthfulness of his testimony came in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee from Glenn A. Fine, the inspector-general at the Justice Department. The committee’s chairman, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., had requested the inquiry earlier this month.

For weeks, lawmakers from both parties have questioned whether Gonzales told the truth in sworn statements to Congress on a number of issues, including his involvement in efforts to preserve the National Security Agency’s policy of wiretapping without warrants, as well as his role in last year’s dismissals of several U.S. attorneys for what appeared to be political reasons.

Rights Group Accuses Hezbollah Of Indiscriminate Attacks

A report by Human Rights Watch accusing Hezbollah of indiscriminately attacking civilians during its war with Israel last summer has set off a furor in Lebanon.

The controversy has prompted the country’s embattled prime minister, Fouad Siniora, to join Hezbollah, his political opponent, and other Lebanese leaders in condemning Human Rights Watch, accusing it of blaming the victims of the conflict.

The reaction has underscored the deep wounds that still remain in this country of 5 million people, which has been mired in political turmoil and deepening sectarian and political divisions ever since a cease-fire brought an end to the fighting a year ago.

More than 1,200 Lebanese, most of them civilians, and 128 Israelis, many of them soldiers, were killed in the monthlong war, which began when Hezbollah militants kidnapped two Israeli soldiers patrolling the border between Lebanon and Israel.