NEW YORK - (AP) - A Nicaraguan diplomat was found dead Thursday with his throat slashed in his blood-spattered apartment and a knife by his side, hours before he was to attend the United Nations General Assembly's annual meeting, officials said.

Cesar Mercado, who had worked at the Nicaraguan consulate asacting consul general, was found at 10:35 a.m. in his apartment inthe Bronx by the driver who went to pick him up to attend themeeting, police said.

The driver found the door ajar and Mercado's body lying justinside, police said. "The knife was found on the floor next to him," said PaulBrowne, the New York Police Department's deputy commissioner forpublic information.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Friday he was stabbed 12times in the abdomen and his throat was slashed. Police also found several hairs in his hands which they are analyzing.

The body was found fully clothed, but with no shoes, about 10:30a.m. Thursday after he didn't show up at work.

Police were investigating, and no suspects were immediatelyidentified. Investigators were looking into Mercado's recentcontacts, his relationships and where he had been during the daysleading up to the slaying. A motive remained unclear.