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News Wrap: Shiite Pilgrams Headed to Iran Gunned Down on Bus in Pakistan

September 20, 2011 at 12:00 AM EDT
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KWAME HOLMAN: Gunmen in Pakistan attacked a bus and killed 26 Shiite Muslims today. The victims were pilgrims on their way to Iran. Local TV showed rescue workers retrieving the bodies and ambulances taking the wounded to hospitals. A militant Sunni group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Separately today, Pakistan and the U.S. agreed to limit the number of American troops in the country. The Associated Press said the total would drop to between 100 and 150 from nearly 300 now.

A tense calm has returned to Yemen’s capital city, with a cease-fire now in effect. The country’s vice president and several Western ambassadors negotiated the truce between supporters of President Ali Abdullah Saleh and opponents of his regime.

Moammar Gadhafi issued new words of defiance today, insisting NATO attacks will not end his regime in Libya. The embattled Gadhafi spoke in an audio message broadcast on Syrian-based television. He said, “The political system in Libya is a system based on the power of the people, and it is impossible that this system be removed.”

But, speaking at the United Nations meeting in New York, President Obama said NATO will not be swayed.

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: So long as the Libyan people are being threatened, the NATO-led mission to protect them will continue. And those still holding out must understand, the old regime is over and it is time to lay down your arms and join the new Libya.

KWAME HOLMAN: Mr. Obama also met with leaders of the Libyan opposition council, now recognized as the new government. He said the world will support the post-Gadhafi regime as it tries to build Democratic institutions.

U.S. policy in the Middle East drew fire today from two top Republican presidential candidates. Texas Governor Rick Perry charged, President Obama has conducted a policy of appeasement toward the Palestinians at the expense of Israel. Perry said it only encouraged the Palestinian Authority to try to win U.N. recognition as a state.

GOV. RICK PERRY (R-Texas), Presidential Candidate: Simply put, we wouldn’t be here today at this very precipice of such a dangerous move if the Obama policy in the Middle East wasn’t naive and arrogant, misguided and dangerous.

KWAME HOLMAN: Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney also weighed in. He said what’s happening at the U.N. this week is an unmitigated diplomatic disaster.

The government of Greece reported progress today in a bid to avoid defaulting on its debt. The Greek finance minister held more talks with the European Commission, International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank. Meanwhile, civil servants demonstrated in droves in Athens against possible cuts in pay and pensions. Some also could lose their jobs as the government grapples with how to meet strict budget targets.

Wall Street rallied for most of the day, then gave up its gains by the close. The Dow Jones industrial average finished just seven points ahead, to close at 11408. The Nasdaq fell 22 points to close at 2590.

More than a million people in central Japan were urged to evacuate today, ahead of a powerful typhoon. The number included some 80,000 in Nagoya, where heavy rain flooded streets and swelled rivers. The storm was expected to reach the Tokyo area tomorrow. Another typhoon in Japan several weeks ago left 90 people dead or missing.

Those are some of the day’s major stories .