News Wrap: Suicide Bombings in Kandahar Kill at Least 22
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Wall Street had its best day of the year so far. The rally came on speculation that policy-makers around the world will take steps to stimulate economic growth.
Also today, the European Central Bank held its benchmark interest rate to 1 percent and signaled that it could cut it in the future. The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 286 points to close at nearly 12,415. The Nasdaq rose more than 66 points to close about 2,844.
Three suicide bombers blew themselves up in Kandahar, Afghanistan, today, killing 22 people. The attack happened at a busy marketplace near the entrance to an Afghan military base; 50 others were wounded in the bombings.
In Eastern Afghanistan, Afghan officials said a pre-dawn NATO airstrike targeting militants actually killed civilians. Residents of the area dug through the rubble of the bombed site today. They said the airstrike happened while people were celebrating a wedding. NATO said it had no reports of civilians being killed, but was investigating.
Violence flared in Syria today. Activists reported approximately 80 people were killed there by government forces in villages outside Hama. That’s in spite of an eight-week-old cease-fire agreement.
Earlier, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner warned Syria that the world will take action to end its now 15-month-long crackdown. In Washington, Geithner urged more than 55 countries to impose maximum financial pressure on the Syrian regime. And he held open the possibility for further U.N. action.
SECRETARY OF TREASURY TIMOTHY GEITHNER: We gather in the shadow of a massacre. And nothing we say can adequately respond to such an event, nor can sanctions alone bring about the change we seek.
But sanctions can play an important role. Strong sanctions, effectively implemented, aggressively enforced, can help deprive the Syrian regime of the resources it needs to sustain itself and to continue its repression of the Syrian people.
HARI SREENIVASAN: U.N. peace envoy for Syria Kofi Annan briefs the U.N. Security Council on Syria tomorrow in New York.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta today defended the American use of drones and said they will continue to be used as a tool in the war on terror. His comments come two days after a drone attack in Pakistan killed al-Qaida’s second in command. He said the U.S. will keep targeting other al-Qaida leaders as long as they pose a threat to the U.S.
Speaking in India, Panetta dismissed the Pakistani government’s charge that it was a violation of its sovereignty.
SECRETARY OF DEFENSE LEON PANETTA: This is about our sovereignty as well, because there were a group of individuals who attacked the United States on 9/11 and killed 3,000 of our citizens. We went to war against those who attacked the United States of America.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Panetta also insisted the drone strikes have been effective at eliminating threats to Pakistan as well.
A group of Muslims in New Jersey filed a federal lawsuit against the New York Police Department today. They want to end what they call spying on Muslim neighborhoods and mosques up and down the East Coast that has been happening since the 9/11 attacks. The lawsuit alleges the department’s surveillance practices are unconstitutional since they are based on race and religion. But an investigation by the New Jersey attorney general last month determined the NYPD’s activities were legal.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.