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News Wrap: 55 Killed in Coordinated Attacks Across Iraq

April 15, 2013 at 12:00 AM EST
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HARI SREENIVASAN: At least 55 people were killed in Iraq today in a string of coordinated bombings and other attacks. Dozens of others were wounded. Explosions rang out from Baghdad and Fallujah to Kirkuk and Tikrit. The force of the blasts reduced city blocks to rubble, caused chaos in the streets and left bystanders bewildered.

MAN: What have those innocent people done to deserve this? Lives of innocent people don’t mean anything? We are only asking for security and safety. Is this safe? No electricity, no cars. They are targeting everything, even people. Everything is targeted. Why? Why are they doing that?

HARI SREENIVASAN: The violence came less than a week before Iraqis hold local elections, their first vote since U.S. troops withdrew in 2011. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but such attacks are often a trademark of al-Qaida’s Iraqi wing.

A major sell-off hit Wall Street today. Stocks plunged after China reported its economic growth slowed in the first quarter, and commodity prices took a hit. The Dow Jones industrial average lost nearly 266 points to close at 14,599. The Nasdaq fell 78 points to close at 3,216.

There was relative quiet out of North Korea today, as the communist state celebrated the birthday of its founder with a flower festival. Celebrations were focused in Pyongyang, and residents dressed in their finest clothing to lay flowers before statues of former North Korean leaders. A day earlier, North Korea rejected the South’s offer of dialogue, calling it — quote — “a crafty trick.”

A federal judge in Washington has refused to intervene in a detainee hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He ruled today that federal law bars judicial review of enemy combatant claims of mistreatment. A Yemeni prisoner, Musaab al-Madhwani, had said he and other hunger strikers are denied drinking water and medical care and kept in extreme cold. In another development, some of the 166 detainees fought with military guards on Saturday over being moved to new cells.

The New York Times won four Pulitzer Prizes today, as the 2013 awards were announced, among The Times’ honors, the prize for investigative reporting on allegations that Wal-Mart bribed officials in Mexico. The Denver Post won for breaking news reporting on the mass killing of 12 people at a movie theater. In the arts, Adam Johnson won the fiction prize for “The Orphan Master’s Son.” And the poetry prize went to Sharon Olds for “Stag’s Leap.” We will have an encore presentation of a profile of Sharon Olds later in the program.

Those are some of the day’s major stories — now back to Jeff.