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US mafia boss shot dead

1985 - The head of the United States’ most powerful mafia family and his bodyguard were shot dead as they emerged from a limousine in the midtown area of Manhattan. An organised crime specialist for the FBI said the slayings could mark “the beginning of a crime war”. Paul Castellano, reputed head of the Gambino crime family, and Thomas Bilotti, a captain in the family, were shot repeatedly by three gunmen who walked up to the car, pulled automatic weapons from under their raincoats and opened fire. The gunmen walked into the rush-hour crowd and escaped. Castellano, 73, had been on trial on racketeering conspiracy charges in running a car-theft ring that was alleged to have killed five people who threatened to expose its operations.

December 16

1653 - Oliver Cromwell becomes lord protector of England, Scotland and Ireland.

1740 - Prussia’s Frederick II enters Silesia (now in Poland) and begins the first Silesian War.

1862 - Kingdom of Nepal accepts its constitution.

1879 - Transvaal Republic (now South Africa) is proclaimed.

1884 - Britain recognises the International Association of the Congo.

1920 - Earthquake hits the Gansu province in China, killing 200,000 people.

1945 - Thailand joins the United Nations.

1949 - Sukarno becomes Indonesia President.

1960 - A United Airlnes DC-8 and a TWA Super Constellation collide over New York City, killing 134 people.

1971 - Bangladesh declares independence from Pakistan.

1972 - US Apollo 17 spacecraft heads for Earth after the last United States manned exploration of the Moon.

1998 - US and Britain launch a military strike on Iraq in response to Baghdad’s failure to comply with UN weapons inspections.

2004 - The Millau Viaduct, tallest bridge in the world, opens in southern France.

2006 - Dr Amal Abdullah Juma Karam Al Qubaisi is the first woman to be elected to the UAE Federal National Council.

2005 - Hamas celebrates a landslide victory in key West Bank towns, ahead of parliamentary elections.

2012 - Brazilian football team Corinthians reclaims the Fifa Club World Club after beating Chelsea in the final in Yokohama.

2014 - Pakistani Taliban attacks on an army school in Peshawar kill at least 141 people, 132 of them children.