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Other News: Seven U.S. Troops Killed in Afghanistan

July 6, 2009 at 6:10 PM EST
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In other news, seven U.S. troops were killed in deadly attacks across Afghanistan, and 165 people have been killed during riots in China.
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JIM LEHRER: In other news today, seven U.S. troops were killed in attacks across Afghanistan. It was the deadliest day in nearly a year. Six Americans were killed in roadside bombings in the north and in the south, near where U.S. Marines are waging a major offensive. Another died in clashes with insurgents in the eastern part of the country.

Meanwhile, the Taliban confirmed capturing a U.S. soldier last week. There were no details on what the militants will do with him.

Ethnic riots across western China have now claimed at least 156 lives. Violence erupted on Sunday in the capital city of Xinjiang province. In addition to the dead, more than 800 people were hurt.

We have a report narrated by Lindsey Hilsum of Independent Television News.

LINDSEY HILSUM: Mobs on the streets of Urumqi, groups of youths who hate Chinese rule. Yesterday, several thousand people from the Muslim Uighur minority went on a rampage. They say they face discrimination, and they took out their anger on the Han. The Han are regarded as colonialists by many Uighurs who would like a separate state.

This Han woman was kicked and stoned. The hospitals are full of injured. The government says more than 800 people were hurt, some badly, mostly beaten with sticks or stabbed by youths with knives.

CHINESE WOMAN (through translator): It seemed like they were in groups of more than 10. There was no chance to say anything. They just came up and attacked you.

CHINESE MAN (through translator): They didn’t really talk to you. When they saw a Han person coming along, they started to attack. Or when a bus came along, they started to attack.

LINDSEY HILSUM: The story starts 10 days ago in a factory in southern China. Fighting broke out between Uighurs and Han after a Han accused a Uighur man of rape. The allegation is believed to be untrue, but several Uighurs were lynched nonetheless. The horrifying pictures shot by mobile phone were seen by Uighurs back home in Urumqi.

Yesterday, Uighur University students in the Xinjiang capital held what seems initially to have been a peaceful demonstration demanding an inquiry. The Chinese government is blaming exiled Uighur separatists for the violence which followed.

NUER BAIKELI, chairman of Xinjiang Region (through translator): The three forces from inside and outside of China aggressively operated to attack China’s Communist Party and the government. They also incited people to carry out demonstrations in the city.

LINDSEY HILSUM: Today, the Han were counting the cost. Their government encouraged them to move to Xinjiang province, to make Urumqi a Chinese rather than a Uighur city. It’s not clear whether the violence was one-sided or whether Uighurs were also killed by government forces.

By this afternoon, Urumqi was totally locked down. Hundreds have been arrested. The Chinese government will see such unrest and the large death toll as a major challenge not only to its authority, but to its sovereignty.

JIM LEHRER: The U.S. reacted to the situation late today. A White House statement called for all parties in western China to “exercise restraint.”

Members of the U.N. Security Council talked today about responding to North Korea’s latest move. On Saturday, the North Koreans defied the U.N. and fired seven midrange ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan. The missiles have the range to strike all of South Korea and most of Japan.

In Mexico, the major opposition party, PRI, pledged to enact economic reforms. It defeated the ruling conservative party in midterm congressional elections yesterday. The vote was a test of President Calderon’s efforts to boost the economy and halt drug violence. The PRI, called the “Pree,” ruled Mexico for decades until it lost the presidency in 2000.

General Motors will be able to sell the bulk of its assets to a new company. A federal bankruptcy judge ruled late Sunday the sale is in the best interests of both G.M. and its creditors. An appeal was expected by people who have sued G.M. in auto accident cases. Under the bankruptcy plan, the government will be majority owner of the new G.M.

Wall Street had a mixed day. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 44 points to close above 8,324, but the Nasdaq fell 9 points to close at 1,787.

And oil prices hit a five-week low, falling to $64 a barrel in New York trading. Gasoline prices also fell again to a national average of $2.61 a gallon.