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News Wrap: al-Qaida’s No. 2 Afghan Killed in Airstrike, NATO Says

May 29, 2012 at 12:00 AM EDT
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KWAME HOLMAN: Al-Qaida’s second-in-command in Afghanistan has been killed in a NATO airstrike. Alliance officials said today that Sakhr al-Taifi was killed on Sunday. He had commanded foreign militants in Afghanistan. The airstrike took place in the country’s eastern Kunar Province. NATO officials said there were no civilian casualties.

Search teams dug into new piles of rubble in northern Italy today after the second earthquake in less than two weeks. At least 16 people were killed and 200 hurt. The magnitude-5.8 earthquake toppled houses, factories and churches in the region around Bologna. An even stronger quake struck there just nine days ago, and some buildings damaged then collapsed today.

The tremor hit as Prime Minister Mario Monti was holding a meeting in Rome on earthquake recovery efforts.

MARIO MONTI, Italian prime minister (through translator): I want to ask all citizens in the affected areas to have confidence in the government’s support. The commitment of the state will be guaranteed, and everything will happen in the best and quickest way.

KWAME HOLMAN: The two quakes have left at least 14,000 people homeless.

An extremely powerful computer virus is attacking computers across the Middle East, but especially in Iran. That news came today from a Russian security firm. It said the Flame virus can turn computers into spy tools that even pull information from nearby cell phones. Iran blamed Israel for another virus attack two years ago that disrupted part of Iran’s nuclear program. Today, Israel wouldn’t confirm or deny a role in this new attack.

In U.S. economic news, a new report raised hopes about home prices. They rose in most major cities in March for the first time in seven months. But a second report showed consumer confidence plunged in May, marking the biggest decline in eight months.

On Wall Street, stocks rose on hopes that China might move to stimulate its economy. The Dow Jones industrial average gained nearly 126 points to close above 12,580. The Nasdaq rose 33 points to close just under 2,871.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.