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News Wrap: Kenyan president says deadly attacks were ‘politically motivated’

June 17, 2014 at 6:02 PM EST
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GWEN IFILL: Kenya’s president blamed local political leaders for two nights of attacks that killed at least 60 people along the coast.

The Somali militant group Al-Shabab had claimed responsibility for the killings near the tourist resort island of Lamu that targeted non-Muslims.

But President Uhuru Kenyatta, in a nationally televised address, pointed the finger at people he described as hate-mongers, without directly naming anyone.

PRESIDENT UHURU KENYATTA, Kenya: The attack in Lamu was well-planned, orchestrated, and politically motivated ethnic violence against the Kenyan community, with the intention of profiling and evicting them for political reasons.  This, therefore, wasn’t an Al-Shabab terrorist attack.

GWEN IFILL: Security was tightened in the area today, as Kenyan officials searched for the attackers.  They erected roadblocks, and asked people to come forward with any information.

An explosion hit the main pipeline that carries Russian natural gas across Ukraine to Europe, and Ukrainian officials said it might be terrorism.  It happened in the center of the country, far from the unrest with pro-Russian separatists in the east.  And it comes a day after Russia cut off natural gas supplies to Ukraine over a pricing dispute.

Newly released records show workers at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs hospital received about $10 million in merit-based bonuses.  It’s the same hospital an inspector general’s report found had excessive wait times and inappropriate scheduling of patients.  Records show the bonuses went to about 2,100 employees over three years, and each year the amount increased.

In Nebraska, two farming towns were reeling today at destruction wrought by rare double tornadoes.  The twin twisters ripped through the small towns of Stanton and Pilger yesterday afternoon.  They touched down roughly a mile from one another, before merging.  A 5-year-old girl was killed and 18 others were injured.  Pilger was nearly 75 percent destroyed.

The county sheriff warned it will take a long time to rebuild.

MIKE UNGER, Sheriff, Stanton County: The business district is gone.  City Hall is gone.  The fire department is destroyed.  The public library has severe damage.  And we have numerous houses that are just gone and lots and lots of houses with structural damage that will take 100 percent repair, which means they’re going to have to tear them down and start from scratch.

GWEN IFILL: President Obama signed a disaster declaration today to send federal funds and resources to the area.

In World Cup soccer news, U.S. fans were still celebrating last night’s first round win over Ghana.  Team captain Clint Dempsey scored 30 seconds into the game, making it the fifth quickest goal in World Cup history.  After Ghana tied the score, John Brooks bounced a header in to win the match.  Next up for the U.S. is Portugal on Sunday.

Curators and scientists have discovered one of Pablo Picasso’s first masterpieces.  “The Blue Room” has had a secret all these years.  A second painting is concealed behind the first, and that one holds a secret of its own: the identity of the bow-tied man in the portrait.  The 1901 painting has been a part of the Phillips Collection in Washington since 1927.  Museum experts used infrared/X-ray technology to find and refine the hidden portrait over the past five years.

Stocks extended their gains on Wall Street today.  The Dow Jones industrial average added 27 points to close at 16,808.  The Nasdaq rose 16 points to close at 4,337.  And the S&P 500 gained four points to close at nearly 1,942.