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News Wrap: Taliban Suicide Bombers Dressed as Officers Kill 53 in Afghanistan

April 3, 2013 at 12:00 AM EDT

HARI SREENIVASAN: At least 53 people died in a Taliban attack in Western Afghanistan today; 34 of the victims were civilians, according to an Afghan provincial governor. Suicide bombers dressed as Afghan troops raided a courthouse in Farah province in an unsuccessful attempt to free insurgents on trial there. Afghan forces fired back in a gun battle that raged for most of the day. It was the largest death toll from a single attack in Afghanistan since 2011.

Tensions flared between Palestinians and Israelis in the heaviest exchange of gunfire since a truce last November. Palestinian militants fired several rockets into Southern Israel, and Israeli aircraft fought back, bombing targets in the Gaza Strip. The strikes coincided with unrest in the West Bank, where Palestinians protested the death of a prisoner who died of cancer while in Israeli custody. They accused Israel of not giving him proper medical care. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry leaves for a trip to the Middle East this weekend.

Torrential rainfall in Argentina led to massive flooding today, killing at least 52 people. Most of the deaths were in the eastern city of La Plata in the Buenos Aires province. People there drowned after taking refuge in their cars overnight. The flooding completely covered streets, left thousands stranded and set off a fire at the nation’s largest oil refinery that took hours to put out. The downpour dropped nearly 16 inches of rain on the region in two hours.

President Obama headed to Colorado today to draw attention to that state’s newly passed gun laws. Colorado expanded background checks and put restrictions on magazine sizes. Congress takes up gun legislation when it returns from recess next week. The president met with law enforcement officials at the Denver Police Academy and then made his case for tougher national laws.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Surely we can have a debate that’s not based on the notion somehow that your elected representatives are trying to do something to you, other than potentially prevent another group of families from grieving the way the families of Aurora or Newtown or Columbine have grieved.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Connecticut’s General Assembly moved toward passing a tough new set of gun controls. Members debated the legislation today, some of which will take effect immediately. It includes an expansion of the state’s assault weapons ban and background checks for all firearms sales. Gov. Dannel Malloy said he will sign the legislation into law.

It was widely reported today President Obama is returning five percent of his salary to the Treasury each month for the rest of the year. The president earns $400,000 dollars annually. A White House official said it’s a show of support for thousands of federal workers who face furlough because of automatic spending cuts.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is also taking a voluntary pay cut, in solidarity with the Pentagon’s many civilian employees required to take unpaid leave.

Stocks fell sharply on Wall Street today, with the Dow recording its worst day in more than a month. The Dow Jones industrial average lost more than 111 points to close at 14,550. The Nasdaq fell 36 points to close at 3,218.

Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia are recalling nearly two million vehicles across the U.S. because of problems with air bags and brake light switches. The switch recall affects most of the automakers’ lineups from model years 2007 through 2011. The air bag problem is on about 200,000 Hyundai Elantras. Both companies said there have been no reports of crashes or injuries.

Those are some of the day’s major stories — now back to Judy.