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News Wrap: Mumbai Bombings Kill at Least 21, Wound More Than 100

July 13, 2011 at 12:00 AM EDT
In other news Wednesday, three bombings by militants shook Mumbai, India, killing at least 21 and wounding more than 100. Vikas Bajaj of The New York Times reports from Mumbai. Also, Afghan President Karzai's half-brother was buried in Kandahar, a day after he was gunned down by a longtime family associate.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Three bombings in quick succession shook Mumbai, India, today, killing at least 21 people and wounding more than 100. It was the first terror strike in the nation’s financial capital since militants killed 166 people in a 2008 siege.

Vikas Bajaj of The New York Times reported from one of the locations attacked today and spoke with us this afternoon.

VIKAS BAJAJ, The New York Times: The biggest damage in Dadar was at the bus stop. It was charred, but still standing. There was some damage on the shops across the street. Several of them had their glasses shattered. And so there was glass all over the street in front of the shop.

But, mostly, it was — it was a chaotic mass of people gathering around the police establishment there.

HARI SREENIVASAN: We’re hearing reports, Vikas, that there might have been a fourth bomb?

VIKAS BAJAJ: There was a fourth bomb discovered in a bag, but didn’t — had not gone off.

HARI SREENIVASAN: What’s the Indian government been saying about these attacks?

VIKAS BAJAJ: The Indian government says that this is a coordinated terrorist attack. They’re not laying blame at any one group, but — but they say that the evidence is pretty clear that these blasts were coordinated and these were planned in advance to wreak maximum damage and kill as many people as possible. Given — given their locations in busy areas and given the timing, at rush hour, this suggests that somebody was trying to inflict a lot of damage on the city of Mumbai.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Is there any lead that the authorities have so far or any groups that have come forward to claim responsibility?

VIKAS BAJAJ: Nobody’s come out and claimed responsibility. If the authorities have a lead as to a specific terror group, they’re not sharing that with the public just yet.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Have they been preparing for something like this?

VIKAS BAJAJ: Well, in December of last year, there was a statement issued by the Indian authorities saying that they had suspected some members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistani terror group, had entered the country and were planning attacks.

And, specifically, they were concerned about attacks during the holiday season in Mumbai. We have no idea whether these two, that that warning and this attack today had anything to do with each other. They may not have.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Vikas Bajaj from The New York Times, thank you for your time.

VIKAS BAJAJ: Thank you.

HARI SREENIVASAN: In Afghanistan, Ahmed Wali Karzai was buried in Kandahar a day after he was gunned down by a close confidant. His half-brother, President Hamid Karzai, joined thousands of mourners at the service, appealing for an end to the violence. At one point, the president climbed into the grave and broke down in sobs.

Hours later, a suicide bombing killed five French soldiers in Eastern Afghanistan. They were guarding a meeting of local leaders.

The Rupert Murdoch media empire, News Corporation, dropped its bid today to take over British Sky Broadcasting. It was the latest fallout from the firestorm of allegations that Murdoch tabloids hacked into phones of celebrities, royals and even murder victims.

We have a report from Gary Gibbon of Independent Television News.

GARY GIBBON: For decades, he’s loomed over British politics, feted by politicians, rarely denied his wishes.

But, today, Parliament rose up as one, all three main parties united, telling Rupert Murdoch he could not expand his media ownership here right now. And he buckled. In a statement on their takeover plans, News Corp. said that it was too difficult to progress in this climate, but that News Corp. reserves the right to announce an offer at a future date.

DAVID CAMERON, British prime minister: Well, I think this is the right decision. I have been saying that this company clearly needs to sort out the problems there are at News International, at the News of the World. That must be the priority, not takeovers.

GARY GIBBON: It’s a huge blow for James Murdoch, third in command at his father’s company. Buying BSkyB was one of News Corp.’s biggest projects, long-planned and potentially very lucrative.

TOM WATSON, British parliamentarian: It feels like the parable of the emperor’s clothes. All of a sudden, everyone knows that Rupert Murdoch’s company was too powerful. And we have now got fundamental questions to ask ourselves about what does media ownership in the U.K. look like going forward?

GARY GIBBON: The prime minister said those questions would be answered by and inquiry by Lord Justice Leveson, which, as well as looking into the illegal acts by newspapers and why the first police investigation into them failed, would also inquire into the relationships between politicians and the press and the police and the press, taking evidence on oath.

At Number 10, the prime minister met the family of the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler. They said they were glad a public inquiry was now going to happen into newspaper illegal practices.

The moment the public heard that the News of the World hacked not just celebrities or politicians, but ordinary families who’d suffered tragic loss, this story changed, and, with it, perhaps permanently, Rupert Murdoch’s media ambitions in this country.

HARI SREENIVASAN: British police are pursuing their own investigations in the scandal. One involves phone hacking, and the other involves claims that Murdoch’s News of the World tabloid bribed police officers for information. News of the World went out of business last weekend.

The U.S. Federal Reserve has not ruled out a new round of economic stimulus. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke left that possibility open today in his report to Congress on the state of the economy.

BEN BERNANKE, Federal Reserve chairman: The Federal Reserve remains prepared to respond should economic developments indicate that an adjustment in the stance of monetary policy would be appropriate.

The possibility remains that the recent economic weakness may prove more persistent than expected and that deflationary risks might reemerge, implying a need for additional policy support.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Bernanke said, for now, the Fed’s forecast calls for moderate growth for the rest of this year.

On Wall Street, the chairman’s stimulus comments sparked a rally, but stocks gave up much of the gains by day’s end. The Dow Jones industrial average added more than 44 points to close at 12,491. The Nasdaq rose 15 points to close near 2,797.

The U.S. will play for the Women’s World Cup soccer championship. The American women beat France today 3-1 in a semifinal match in Germany. They will face Japan in the title match on Sunday. U.S. women’s teams have won two World Cups over the years, but not — have not made it to the finals since 1999.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.