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News Wrap: Taliban Attacks Hotel Near Kabul

June 22, 2012 at 12:00 AM EST
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KWAME HOLMAN:  A 12-hour Taliban assault in Afghanistan ended early today with 18 people killed.  Most of the victims were civilians.  They died when insurgents stormed a lakeside hotel north of Kabul, killed the security guards, then opened fire on the guests.

One survivor described the scene.

MOHAMMAD QASIM, survivor (through translator):  Once at the reception, I told the manager that I think suicide attackers have entered here.  Before I finished talking with the manager, they fired on us.  The manager hid behind his desk.  There were around three to four other guys who were security guards and waiters were martyred by the attackers.

KWAME HOLMAN:  Police said all five of the gunmen were killed.

In Iraq, a pair of bombs exploded in a crowded market in Baghdad.  At least 14 people died and more than 100 others were wounded.  The bombs went off within minutes of each other in a largely Shiite Muslim neighborhood in the northeastern part of the capital.

So far this month, attacks in Iraq have killed more than 160 people, mostly Shiites and Iraqi security forces.  Lawmakers in Pakistan elected a new prime minister today amid continuing political turbulence.  He is Raja Pervez Ashraf, the information minister in the previous government.  He replaces Yousuf Raza Gilani, who was ousted this week by a decree of the country’s supreme court.

Gilani ran afoul of the court when he refused to initiate a corruption investigation of Pakistan’s president, Asif Ali Zardari.

Crowds of Egyptians thronged Cairo’s Tahrir Square today to rally for the Muslim Brotherhood and its presidential candidate.  They demanded election results that now have been delayed indefinitely.  Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, said the rallies would go on, but he insisted they will be peaceful.

MOHAMMED MORSI, Egyptian Presidential Candidate (through translator):  I announce and promise in front of all of you that there will not be any discrimination or any confrontation or violence to disrupt the security and stability of the country.  This is all rumor about any violence.

KWAME HOLMAN:  The Muslim Brotherhood has said its count shows Morsi won the presidential runoff last weekend.  But his rival, former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, insists he won.  The ruling military council said today the Brotherhood moved too quickly in declaring Morsi the winner.

The death penalty was thrown out today in Arkansas.  The state Supreme Court ruled the state’s capital punishment law is unconstitutional.  It said only the legislature may set execution policy, namely the chemicals to be used in lethal injections.  The 2009 law gave that authority to the state Department of Corrections.  There have been no executions in Arkansas since 2005.

On Wall Street, the stock market staged a comeback after Thursday’s big losses.  Shares in JPMorgan Chase and other big banks were higher, even after Moody’s cut their credit ratings.  The Dow Jones industrial average gained 67 points to close at 12,640.  The Nasdaq rose 33 points to close at 2,892.  For the week, the Dow lost nearly 1 percent; the Nasdaq rose more than half-a-percent.

The Miami Heat and LeBron James savored an NBA championship today.  The franchise finished off the Oklahoma City Thunder last night in game five of the finals.  It was the second title for the Heat, and the first for James, who was named most valuable player.  The championship wrapped up a season that was shortened by owners locking out the players in a labor dispute.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.