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Malcolm X's grandson dies in Mexico City, murder probe opened

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The grandson of murdered U.S. civil rights leader Malcolm X, Malcolm Shabazz, who was convicted as a child for a fire that killed his grandmother, has died in Mexico City after an apparent beating.

Mexico's attorney general's office said a murder investigation was under way. Shabazz, 29, died early on Thursday morning after he was taken to a hospital with a range of injuries.

The ambulance picked up Shabazz in Mexico City's run-down Plaza Garibaldi, home to Mariachi bands, strip clubs and dive bars and notorious for petty crime.

"The deceased was in a place of entertainment, drinking beers, according to a companion," the attorney general's office said in a statement. "He exhibited various injuries, apparently from blows."

The U.S. State Department's consular affairs section in Washington said only that it was aware a U.S. citizen had died in Mexico City, but gave no further details.

"We have been in contact with family members, and at their request we have no further comment at this time," it said in an email to Reuters.

When Malcolm Shabazz was 12 he was involved in a fire that resulted in the death of his grandmother Betty Shabazz. He was convicted of manslaughter and arson and went to juvenile detention.

Nation of Islam leader Malcolm X - born Malcolm Little, and also known by his Muslim name El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz - was a black Muslim firebrand who critics said stirred racist and anti-U.S. sentiment. He was shot to death in 1965 at a speaking engagement in New York and three men were convicted of the murder.

(Reporting by Michael O'Boyle, Gabriel Stargardter and Liz Diaz in Mexico City and Ellen Wulfhorst in New York; Editing by Simon Gardner and Bill Trott)

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