News Wrap: Floods Kill at Least 16 in Arkansas
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Flash floods in southwestern Arkansas killed at least 16 people today. Heavy rain touched off the torrent early today. With no warning, a pair of rivers rose more than eight feet an hour in remote valleys.
State Police Captain Mike Fletcher said campgrounds were hard-hit.
CAPTAIN MIKE FLETCHER, Arkansas state police: We’re trying to get everybody identified that’s coming out of there. We’re trying to identify the victims that we had and trying to get everybody accounted for. That is the main thing right now. If we have anyone out there that needs to be rescued, that is our — that is our primary concern right now.
HARI SREENIVASAN: In all, more than 40 people were listed as missing.
There’s been another mass killing in Mexico’s drug war. Thirty gunmen stormed a drug rehabilitation center in Chihuahua City today, killing 20 people and wounding several others. Police said Mexican drug gangs recruit from rehab centers and often threaten to kill those who do not cooperate. More than 60 people have died in shootings at rehab clinics in the last two years.
Ethnic bloodshed erupted in Kyrgyzstan today. At least 45 people were killed and more than 600 others were injured. It was the latest violence to rock the Central Asian country that’s also host to a key U.S. military base.
A state of emergency was imposed in Osh, Kyrgyzstan’s second largest city. TV broadcasts in neighboring Russia showed smoldering buildings and cars after armed gangs of Kyrgyz men stormed Uzbek neighborhoods. In addition to the bloodshed in Osh, smaller-scale violence also broke out in Bishkek, the country’s capital.
The violence came two months after an uprising brought a new government to power. In a televised address, the interim president said troublemakers were trying to undermine an upcoming constitutional vote.
ROZA OTUNBAYEVA, leader, Interim Government of Kyrgyzstan (through translator): This situation causes deep concern. It is being fueled by different forces, including those who are interested in destabilizing the situation in Kyrgyzstan and those who want to disrupt the upcoming referendum.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The government also dispatched troops to quell the violence. Kyrgyzstan is home to the U.S. air transit base at Manas, critical to ongoing operations in Afghanistan.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley spoke in Washington.
P.J. CROWLEY, U.S. assistant secretary of state for public affairs: We have done our own checking, and report, you know, no American injuries or casualties at this point. We are obviously staying on top of that situation. Meanwhile, you know, we — we do continue to talk to the Kyrgyz government about the transit center at Manas.
HARI SREENIVASAN: There was no immediate word on what started the trouble today. But there are longstanding tensions between the Kyrgyzs and Uzbeks.
Three more NATO forces in Afghanistan were killed today, two of them Americans. So far this month, 33 members of the international force have died. Twenty-three of those have been U.S. troops.
In Brussels, Belgium, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that NATO allies are recapturing the initiative, but he also cautioned, the road ahead will be long and hard.
And, in Iraq, a suicide car bomber killed two American troops and at least three Iraqis and wounded 22 others. The attack on a military convoy happened about 80 miles northeast of Baghdad.
Pope Benedict XVI begged forgiveness today for years of sexual abuse by priests against children. It was his most public statement yet on the issue. The pontiff spoke at a mass for 15,000 priests in Saint Peter’s Square in Vatican City. He vowed to ensure that such abuse is ended once and for all.
POPE BENEDICT XVI, leader of Catholic church (through translator): We promise to do everything possible to ensure that such abuse will never occur again, and that, in admitting men to priestly ministry, we will do anything we can to weigh the authenticity of their vocation. We will make every effort to accompany priests along their journey, so that the lord will protect them and watch over them in troubled situations.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Hundreds of cases of sexual and physical abuse by priests have been reported in the Europe — in Europe and the U.S. Benedict has been criticized for his handling of abuse cases when he was archbishop of Munich, Germany, in the 1980s.
Russia has reversed itself and will not deliver air defense missiles to Iran after all. That word came via the French president’s office today. It said Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has agreed the sale would violate a new round of U.N. sanctions. Just yesterday, the Russian foreign minister said the missile sale would go through.
Wall Street ended the week on an up note. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 38 points to close at 10211. The Nasdaq rose nearly 25 points to close at 2243. For the week, the Dow gained nearly 3 percent; the Nasdaq rose 1 percent.