News Wrap: Hit-and-Run Bombing Kills Top Iranian Nuclear Scientist
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Assassins struck a new blow at Iran and its nuclear program today. A hit-and-run bombing killed a top nuclear scientist in Tehran.
We have a report narrated by Lindsey Hilsum of Independent Television News.
LINDSEY HILSUM: Death on the streets of Tehran, the fourth Iranian nuclear scientist to be targeted like this in two years.
A magnet bomb was attached to his car by a passing motorcyclist. The scientist and two passengers, believed to be bodyguards, were killed. The Iranian government blames the Israeli secret service, Mossad, for trying to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program.
Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan was a senior official at Natanz, Iran’s uranium enrichment facility. He’s reported to have recently met officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency. Today, his family were in mourning. One M.P. blamed the agency for leaking his details to Iran’s enemies.
HARI SREENIVASAN: In Washington, a White House spokesman said the U.S. condemns all such acts of violence.
And Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went even further.
SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON: I want to categorically deny any United States involvement in any kind of act of violence inside Iran.
HARI SREENIVASAN: In Israel, the head of the military had suggested Tuesday that things might happen unnaturally to Iran in 2012. Today, the chief military spokesman said, “I don’t know who settled the score with the Iranian scientist, but I certainly am not shedding a tear.”
A brewing crisis between the government of Pakistan and the country’s military grew worse today. The prime minister fired the defense secretary. It was the latest fallout from a leaked memo that asked the U.S. to help rein in the Pakistani military. The army has a history of seizing power, and it warned of grievous consequences after today’s firing. Meanwhile, in the southwest, gunmen ambushed and killed 14 paramilitary troops.
In Syria, President Bashar Assad made a rare public appearance at a pro-government rally in Damascus. Assad told thousands of supporters to have faith in the future. He again branded the uprising against his regime as a conspiracy, and insisted his regime will defeat it.
BASHAR AL-ASSAD, president of Syria (through translator): I wanted to be with you in Damascus in the heart of the capital, which some parties wanted to revert from the land of harmony, love, and peace to a land of destruction, killing and ruins. But they will not succeed in achieving this goal.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Also today, a journalist with France 2 Television was killed in a grenade attack in the city of Homs. He was on a government-approved trip there when it happened. Seven other people were killed as well, and 25 were wounded.
Europe’s main economic engine is sending out new warnings of a recession. Germany reported today its economy pulled back in the fourth quarter of 2011, shrinking by a quarter-of-a-percent.
The news kept Wall Street in check, as traders considered their options. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 13 points to close at 12,449. The Nasdaq rose eight points to close at 2,710.
The company that makes Twinkies and Wonder Bread and other iconic brands may be facing an end. Hostess Brands filed for federal bankruptcy protection today for the second time in a decade. It cited Americans’ changing appetites and rising competition. Hostess is 87 years old. Its president said he hopes to restructure labor agreements and cut costs in general.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.