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News Wrap: At Least 7 More Killed in Afghanistan Over Quran Burnings

February 24, 2012 at 12:00 AM EST
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HARI SREENIVASAN: The backlash in Afghanistan kept spreading today over the burning of Qurans at a U.S. military base. At least seven more people were killed, making 20 since Tuesday.

Today, there were large demonstrations in Kabul, Jalal-Abad, and Khost. Hundreds of protesters chatted “Allah is the greatest” and “Death to America.”

Meanwhile, the commander of international forces in Afghanistan, ISAF, visited a forward operating base where two Americans were killed yesterday by an Afghan soldier.

U.S. Gen. John Allen told them, now is not the time for revenge.

LT. GEN. JOHN ALLEN, International Security Assistance Forces: All the ISAF country, all 50 of them, returned today to this spot. We offer you our condolences. We offer you our admiration as well for how you’ve handled yourselves today in a very tough situation.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Protests also spread to Pakistan, where thousands of people marched against the U.S. and NATO. Major rallies took place in Lahore and Karachi.

For the first time, Pakistan appealed to the Afghan Taliban today to hold peace talks with the Afghan government. Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said his country was prepared to do whatever it takes to help the talks take place. Afghanistan welcomed the move.

The Afghan government has long accused Pakistan of using militant groups as proxies in Afghanistan, something the Pakistanis deny.

The U.N. nuclear agency has concluded that Iran has tripled its production of higher-grade enriched uranium in recent months. That word came today in a confidential report obtained by several news organizations. It also noted that an amount of uranium sufficient for missile experiments is unaccounted for.

The findings added to growing concerns about Iran’s nuclear weapons capabilities. Iran maintains its program is not directed towards weapon, but it has refused access to key nuclear sites.

Tensions with Iran kept pushing the price of oil higher today. In New York trading, it gained another $2 to close near $110 a barrel. And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average lost a point to close just below 12,983. The Nasdaq rose six points to close at 2,963. For the week, the Dow and the Nasdaq rose a fraction of 1 percent.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.