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   KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Police in Afghanistan say a security guard has opened fire in a Kabul hospital, killing three foreigners and wounding one other person.
   District Police Chief Hafiz Khan says the guard suddenly started shooting on Thursday morning in Cure Hospital in the west of the capital.
   The US Embassy in Kabul confirms all three were doctors who are American citizens.  The fourth person shot is also reported to be American.  That person's condition isn't known.
   Khan says the attacker was a member of the Afghan Police Protection Force assigned to guard the hospital.
   The shooting is the latest attack on foreign civilians in Afghanistan after the bombing of a popular restaurant in January and an attack on an upscale hotel in March. It also follows the shooting of two Associated Press staff by a police officer in the country's east this month.
 
Published in National News
BOSTON (AP) — Survivors, first responders and family members of those killed came together Tuesday to mark the anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing with solemn ceremonies.
 
"This day will always be hard, but this place will always be strong," former Mayor Thomas Menino told an invitation-only audience of about 2,500 people gathered at the Hynes Convention Center, not far from the marathon finish line where three people died and more than 260 others were injured a year ago.
 
In Washington, President Barack Obama planned to observe the anniversary with a private moment of silence at the White House.
 
"Today, we recognize the incredible courage and leadership of so many Bostonians in the wake of unspeakable tragedy," Obama said in a statement. "And we offer our deepest gratitude to the courageous firefighters, police officers, medical professionals, runners and spectators who, in an instant, displayed the spirit Boston was built on — perseverance, freedom and love."
 
Obama said this year's race, scheduled for Monday, will "show the world the meaning of Boston Strong as a city chooses to run again."
 
Vice President Joe Biden was in Boston for the ceremony, and he said the courage shown by survivors and those who lost loved ones is an inspiration for other Americans dealing with loss and tragedy. He praised four survivors who spoke before he did and said that though he's not a Boston sports fan, Boston is an incredible city.
 
"We are Boston. We are America. We respond. We endure. We overcome. And we own the finish line," he concluded, to loud applause.
 
Earlier in the day, a wreath-laying ceremony drew the families of the three people killed — Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell and Lu Lingzi — as well as relatives of Massachusetts Institute of Technology police Officer Sean Collier, who was killed in the aftermath of the blasts.
 
Gov. Deval Patrick, Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley were among those who attended the morning ceremony held in a light rain as bagpipes played. O'Malley offered a prayer.
 
They were also honored at the Hynes center, where the survivors who spoke included newlywed Patrick Downes and dancer Adrianne Haslet-Davis, both of whom lost their lower left legs in the bombings.
 
"We should have never met this way, but we are so grateful for each other," Downes said, describing the sense of community that has developed among the survivors.
 
Carlos Arredondo, the cowboy hat-wearing spectator who was hailed as a hero for helping the wounded after the bombings, said he came to the tribute ceremony to support survivors and their families. Biden also mentioned him.
 
"You can see how the whole community gathered together to support them and remember," Arredondo told reporters before the program began.
 
Boston police Commissioner Williams Evans said the anniversary is an emotional day and brings back "some terrible memories."
 
"Hopefully, today brings the city and the families some sense of comfort and some healing," he said before ceremonies began.
 
Between 2:30 p.m. and 3 p.m., a flag-raising ceremony and moment of silence will be held at the marathon finish line, to mark the time and place where two bombs exploded on April 15, 2013.
 
Authorities say two brothers planned and orchestrated the attack and later shot and killed Collier during an attempt to steal his gun. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, died following a shootout with police several days after the bombings. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 20, has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges and is awaiting trial. He faces the possibility of the death penalty.
 
The Tsarnaevs, ethnic Chechens who lived in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan and the Dagestan region of Russia, settled in Cambridge, outside Boston, more than a decade ago after moving to the U.S. as children with their family.
 
Prosecutors have said Dzhokhar Tsarnaev left a hand-scrawled confession condemning U.S. actions in Muslim countries on the inside wall of a boat he was found hiding in following the police shootout.
Published in National News
Wednesday, 12 February 2014 10:25

Judge sets November trial in marathon bombing

 

BOSTON (AP) - A judge has set a November trial date for Boston Marathon suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
 
Judge George O'Toole Jr. said Wednesday in U.S. District Court that he has set the trial for Nov. 3.
 
Several of the 260 people injured in the terrorist attack are in the courtroom for the hearing. Tsarnaev is not.
 
His lawyers had asked for a trial date no earlier than September 2015. Prosecutors want the trial this fall.
 
They allege that the 20-year-old Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan (TAM'-ehr-luhn), planted two homemade pressure cooker bombs near the marathon's finish line last April. Tamerlan Tsarnaev died following a shootout with police.
 
Prosecutors announced last month they will seek the death penalty against Tsarnaev, who has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal counts.
Published in National News
Wednesday, 05 February 2014 01:28

Bombings kill at least 16 in Iraqi capital

   BAGHDAD (AP) — Multiple bombings rocked central Baghdad on Wednesday, striking mainly near the heavily fortified Green Zone where key government offices are located and killing at least 16 people, Iraqi officials said.
   The attacks were the latest in a relentless push by Sunni militants to undermine confidence in the Shiite-led government's efforts to maintain security in Iraq, two years after the pullout of American troops from the country.
   There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombings but such systematic and brazen attacks against government buildings, security forces and Shiites in general bear the hallmarks of al-Qaida's affiliate in Iraq. The terror group has become emboldened by the successes of its fellow militants in the civil war next door in Syria and by widespread Sunni anger at the government.
   The deadliest of Wednesday's attacks took place across the street from the Foreign Ministry building, when two parked car bombs went off simultaneously in two different parking lots. Those explosions killed at least seven people and wounded 15, a police officer said.
   Shortly afterward, a suicide bomber walked into a nearby falafel restaurant where he set off his explosives-laden belt, killing five people and wounding 12, the officer added. The restaurant and others around it are often used by officials or visitors waiting for security escorts to take them inside the Green Zone.
   Also Wednesday morning, a parked car bomb went off in Khilani Square in the Iraqi capital's commercial center, killing four people and wounding eight, another police officer said.
   Two medical officials confirmed the causality figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to talk to media.
   Iraq has seen resurgence in violence over the past year. According to U.N. figures, 2013 had the highest death toll since the worst of the country's sectarian bloodletting began to subside in 2007. The U.N. said violence killed 8,868 last year.
   Al-Qaida's affiliate in Iraq has in the past staged spectacular attacks on Iraqi government ministries such as in August 2009, when suicide bombers hit the Finance Ministry and the Foreign Ministry ministries, killing more than 100 people. The bombings were quickly claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq, as the group was known at the time.
Published in National News
   CAIRO (AP) — Three bombings hit high-profile areas around Cairo on Friday, including a suicide car bomber who struck the city's police headquarters, killing five people in the first major attack on the Egyptian capital as insurgents step up a campaign of violence following the ouster of the Islamist president.
   Nobody claimed responsibility for the attacks, but they bore the hallmarks of Islamic extremists who have increasingly targeted police and the military since the July 3 coup against Mohammed Morsi and a fierce crackdown on his supporters led by the Muslim Brotherhood.
   The explosions struck as the country was on high alert ahead of the third anniversary of the Jan. 25 start of the 2011 uprising that toppled autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak. Morsi's supporters had vowed to use the event to gain momentum in their efforts turn to a new momentum to "break the coup."
   Friday's violence began when a suicide bomber rammed a car into cement blocks surrounding the main Egyptian police headquarters in the heart of Cairo, killing at least four people and sending billows of black smoke into the sky. The blast also tore through nearby buildings, including the renowned Museum of Islamic Art.
   Egypt's antiquities minister, Mohammed Ibrahim, said the explosion badly damaged the facade of the 19th century museum and artifacts inside, including a rare collection of Islamic art objects dating back to 1881. He said the museum, which was recently renovated in a multimillion dollar project, will have to be "rebuilt."
   As a large number of ambulances rushed to the scene, an Associated Press photographer saw about six police officers weeping as they on the sidewalk outside the building. Small parts of a vehicle were scattered on the road and a blanket covered a corpse — which officers said was the suicide bomber.
   Several floors of the high-rise security building were wrecked, air conditioning units dangled from broken windows, and the pavement outside was covered with piles of shattered glass, pieces of bricks and rocks. The facade of the adjacent Islamic Art Museum and a court house were also damaged along with shops and cars in the area.
   Egypt's Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim described the attack "vile terrorist act" and vowed, "it will not discourage the police from continuing their fierce war against the black terrorism."
   The Interior Ministry cordoned off the building, which is located in a busy district, as rescue teams worked to extract victims trapped in the rubble. Security forces went on high alert, and closed the central Tahrir Square and main roads, including the one leading to the Interior Ministry.
   The Health Ministry said in a statement that four people were killed and nearly 50 wounded.
   About two hours later, another bomb struck a police car on patrol near a metro station near the Russian Culture Center elsewhere in Cairo, killing one person and wounding eight others, officials said.
   A third, smaller blast targeted the Talbiya police station about four kilometers (two miles) from the famous Giza Pyramids but caused no casualties, officials said.
   The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
   The attacks came a day after the country's military and security leaders marked Police Day depicting security forces as national heroes battling terrorism.
   The military-backed government has blamed the Brotherhood for past attacks and designated it as a terrorist organization. The group has denied the accusations as baseless.
   The most prominent attacks were a failed assassination attempt on the interior minister in Cairo in September and the December suicide car bombing that targeted a security headquarters in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura, leaving nearly 16 dead, most of them policemen.
   An al-Qaida-inspired group called Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, or the Champions of Jerusalem, has claimed responsibility for most of the recent attacks, saying they aimed to avenge the killings of Morsi's supporters in the months-long heavy security crackdown on protesters demanding his reinstatement and denouncing the coup.
   A Brotherhood-led coalition had planned protests after Friday prayers across the country as part of their near-daily demonstrations against Morsi's overthrow and the recent vote on the country's rewritten constitution.
Published in National News
   BAGHDAD (AP) - Authorities say a bomb blast at a funeral north of Iraq's capital has killed at least 16 people, the deadliest of a series of attacks that have killed at least 37.
   The funeral attack happened Wednesday in the town of Buhriz, about 60 kilometers (35 miles) north of Baghdad. Police say 16 people were killed in that blast inside a mourning tent, while at least 26 were wounded.
   Two medical officials confirmed the casualty figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release information.
   Iraq remains gripped by violence as al-Qaida-linked militants took control of two cities in Anbar province, west of Baghdad. A series of bombings in the capital Wednesday killed at least 21 people.
 
Published in National News
Monday, 30 December 2013 02:52

14 dead after suicide bomber on Russian bus

   MOSCOW (AP) - Russia's main investigative agency says a Volgograd bus explosion was caused by a suicide bomber and officials raised the death toll to 14.
   The bombing comes a day after 17 people died in a railway station bombing also blamed on a suicide bomber.
   Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said in a statement that Monday's explosion on an electric bus involved a similar bomb, proving a link between the two attacks.
   Public health officials said that at least 14 people were killed in explosion during morning rush hour.
   No one has claimed responsibility for either bombing, but they came a few months after Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov threatened new attacks against civilian targets in Russia, including Olympics in Sochi in February.
Published in National News

   ADEN, Yemen (AP) - Military and hospital officials say a suicide bomber had detonated his explosives-laden car at Yemen's Defense Ministry, killing 15 soldiers and wounding at least 40.

   They said as many as 12 gunmen also have been killed in a firefight between troops and a carload of attackers who arrived minutes after the Thursday morning blast, apparently in a bid to take over the complex in downtown Sanaa, Yemen's capital.

   They said the gunmen were armed with assault rifles, hand grenades and rocket-propelled grenades.

   There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which bore the hallmarks of al-Qaida, whose chapter in Yemen is considered among the world's most active.

   The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to journalists.

Published in National News
Tuesday, 26 November 2013 02:50

Obama pushes back against critics of Iran deal

   WASHINGTON (AP) — Pushing back hard, President Barack Obama forcefully defended the temporary agreement to freeze Iran's disputed nuclear program on Monday, declaring that the United States "cannot close the door on diplomacy."

   The president's remarks followed skepticism of the historic accord expressed by some U.S. allies abroad as well as by members of Congress at home, including fellow Democrats. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, one of the fiercest opponents of the six-month deal, called it a "historic mistake" and announced he would be dispatching a top envoy to Washington to try to toughen the final agreement negotiators will soon begin hammering out.

   Obama, without naming names, swiped at those who have questioned the wisdom of engaging with Iran.

   "Tough talk and bluster may be the easy thing to do politically, but it's not the right thing to do for our security," he said during an event in San Francisco.

   The weekend agreement between Iran and six world powers — the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany — is to temporarily halt parts of Tehran's disputed nuclear program and allow for more intrusive international monitoring. In exchange, Iran gains some modest relief from stiff economic sanctions and a pledge from Obama that no new penalties will be levied during the six months.

   Despite the fanfare surrounding the agreement, administration officials say key technical details on the inspections and sanctions relief must still be worked out before it formally takes effect. Those talks will tackle the toughest issues that have long divided Iran and the West, including whether Tehran will be allowed to enrich uranium at a low level.

   Iran insists it has a right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes, and many nuclear analysts say a final deal will almost certainly leave Iran with some right to enrich. However, that's sure to spark more discord with Israel and many lawmakers who insist Tehran be stripped of all enrichment capabilities. British Foreign Secretary William Hague said he expects the deal to be fully implemented by the end of January.

   European Union officials say their sanctions could be eased as soon as December. Those restrictions affect numerous areas including trade in petrochemicals, gold and other precious metals, financial transfers to purchase food and medicine, and the ability of third countries to use EU-based firms to insure shipments of Iranian oil again.

   The groundwork for the accord was laid during four clandestine meetings between U.S. and Iranian officials throughout the summer and fall. An earlier meeting took place in March, before Iranians elected President Hassan Rouhani, a cleric who has taken more moderate public stances than his predecessor. Details of the secret talks were confirmed to The Associated Press by three senior administration officials.

   The U.S. and its allies contend Iran is seeking to produce a nuclear bomb — of particular concern to Israel, which fears an attack — while Tehran insists it is merely pursuing a peaceful nuclear program for energy and medical purposes.

   Even with the criticism, for Obama the sudden shift to foreign policy presents an opportunity to steady his flailing second term and take some attention off the domestic troubles that have plagued the White House in recent weeks, especially the rollout of his signature health care law. Perhaps with his presidential standing — and the strength of the rest of his term — in mind, he made sure on Monday to draw a connection between the nuclear pact and his long-declared willingness to negotiate directly with Iran.

   "When I first ran for president, I said it was time for a new era of American leadership in the world, one that turned the page on a decade of war and began a new era of engagement with the world," he said. "As president and as commander in chief, I've done what I've said."

   Later, at a high-dollar fundraiser in Los Angeles, Obama said he will not take any options off the table to ensure Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon.

   However, he added, "I've spent too much time at Walter Reed looking at kids 22, 23, 24, 25 years old who've paid the kind of price that very few of us in this room can imagine on behalf of our freedom not to say that I will do every single thing that I can to try to resolve these issues without resorting to military conflict."

   The temporary accord is historic in its own right, marking the most substantial agreement between Iran and the West in more than three decades. The consequences of a permanent deal could be far more significant, lowering the prospects of a nuclear arms race in the volatile Middle East and perhaps opening the door to wider relations between the U.S. and Iran, which broke off diplomatic ties following the 1979 Islamic revolution.

   However, Obama and his advisers know the nuclear negotiations are rife with risk. If he has miscalculated Iran's intentions, it will vindicate critics who say his willingness to negotiate with Tehran is naive and could inadvertently hasten the Islamic republic's march toward a nuclear weapon. Obama also runs the risk of exacerbating tensions with key Middle Eastern allies, as well as members of Congress who want to deepen, not ease, economic penalties on Iran.

   Despite Obama's assurances that no new sanctions will be levied on Iran while the interim agreement is in effect, some lawmakers want to push ahead with additional penalties. A new sanctions bill has already passed the House, and if it passes the Senate, Obama could have to wield his veto power in order to keep his promise to Tehran.

   Even some members of Obama's own party say they're wary of the deal struck in Geneva.

   "I am disappointed by the terms of the agreement between Iran and the P5+1 nations because it does not seem proportional," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., a close ally of the White House. "Iran simply freezes its nuclear capabilities while we reduce the sanctions."

   The Senate's Democratic majority leader, Harry Reid, was noncommittal on the subject of sanctions on Monday. On NPR's Diane Rehm Show, he said that when lawmakers return from their Thanksgiving break, "we will take a look at this to see if we need stronger sanctions ... and if we need work on this, if we need stronger sanctions I am sure we will do that."

   Some lawmakers are also concerned about concessions the world powers made to Iran on its planned heavy water reactor in Arak, southwest of Tehran. Two congressional aides said that under the terms of the agreement, international monitors will not being able to watch live feeds of any activity at Arak and will instead retrieve a recording from the preceding day during each daily inspection.

   The aides were not authorized to provide details of the agreement and demanded anonymity.

   On the positive side, Michael Desch, a political science professor at the University of Notre Dame, compared Obama's diplomatic overtures to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger's secret outreach to China in the 1970s, which paved the way for the historic opening of U.S. relations with the Asian nation.

   "Then, as now, critics complained that the U.S. was in danger of being hoodwinked by a radical and violent regime that was playing us for a sucker," Desch said. "An opening to Iran could potentially not only contain its nuclear program but set the stage for broader changes there as well."

Published in National News

   BEIRUT (AP) — Lebanon's news agency says 20 people have been killed and 95 wounded in two explosions that struck near the Iranian Embassy in the Lebanese capital of Beirut.

   The National News Agency says the dead include two Iranian nationals.

   The mid-morning blasts hit Beirut's upscale neighborhood of Janah, a stronghold of the Shiite militant Hezbollah group. One explosion blew out the large black main gate of the Iranian mission, damaging the three-story facility.

   Debris was scattered on the street and cars were on fire as people ran away from the chaotic scene.

   A Lebanese security official confirmed that the casualty figures. He spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

   Attacks have targeted Lebanon's Shiite strongholds recently in what many see as retaliation by extremists for Hezbollah's role in Syria.

Published in National News
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