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News Wrap: Yemen Vows to Step Up Hunt for al-Qaida

December 28, 2009 at 12:00 AM EDT

HARI SREENIVASAN: Yemen vowed today to step up its hunt for al-Qaida insurgents after the attempted airliner bombing in the U.S. The government said 29 suspects have been arrested since the incident on Christmas Day. They were not accused of any direct ties to the bomb plot. Instead, they’re suspected of planning attacks inside Yemen.

A suicide bomber killed at least 30 people and injured dozens more in Pakistan today. The bomb exploded at the beginning of a Shiite procession marking a major religious holiday. This security camera video captured the moment the bomber blew himself up in Karachi. Outraged Shiites set fire to buildings and cars and threw stones at security forces.

Israel now plans to build 700 new apartments for Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem. That area is not included in a temporary freeze on new settlements in the West Bank. Palestinians condemned today’s announcement. They have refused to reopen peace talks until Israel stops all settlement construction. A spokesman for President Obama warned against steps that preempt negotiations.

Thailand has closed down a refugee camp of more than 4,000 ethnic Hmong, and begun forcibly deporting them back to Laos. Government troops accompanied every truckload of deportees today. The Thai government said they are illegal immigrants, and not political refugees. Human rights groups said they fear the Hmong will be persecuted in Laos. The U.S. State Department asked Thailand to stop the action.

There was good news today for U.S. retailers. New data from MasterCard showed holiday spending was up more than 3.5 percent over last year.

And Wall Street gained today as well. The Dow Jones industrial average was up nearly 27 points, to close at 10547. The Nasdaq rose five points, to close at 2291.

Those are some of the day’s main stories. I will be back at the end of the program with a preview of what you will find tonight on the “NewsHour”‘s Web site — but, for now, back to Margaret.