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News Wrap: 4 NATO Troops Killed in East Afghanistan Attacks

July 5, 2011 at 12:00 AM EDT

HARI SREENIVASAN: This was a deadly day for NATO forces in Afghanistan. The alliance announced four troops were killed in two separate attacks in the east. There was no immediate word on their nationalities. Two hundred eighty NATO service members have died in Afghanistan so far this year.

In Syria, security forces and allied gunmen shot and killed 11 people in Hama, where residents openly defied the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Activists reported hundreds of people burned tires and erected makeshift barriers to block troops and tanks which are now encircling the city.

In Washington, State Department Spokesman Victoria Nuland said it is the latest evidence that Syria is using intimidation and arrests to erase all opposition.

VICTORIA NULAND, State Department spokeswoman: Well, a week ago, Hama was the positive example of a city in Syria where peaceful demonstrations were allowed, where people were meeting each other and organizing and talking. And, today, we see Hama surrounded by Syrian security forces. So, we’re going in the wrong direction.

HARI SREENIVASAN: In 1982, then-President Hafez Assad, the current leader’s father, crushed a rebellion in Hama, killing as many as 25,000 people.

Nearly 200 people are feared dead after a boat carrying African migrants sank off the coast of Sudan. Sudanese police and a semi-official news agency reported the vessel caught fire and went down. The reports said the passengers were being smuggled to Saudi Arabia, and that only three were rescued.

The U.S. Senate has postponed an effort to authorize the military mission in Libya, at least for now. Majority Leader Harry Reid announced today the Senate will focus instead on cutting the national debt. The Senate gave up its holiday recess to deal with the debt issue, and a number of Republicans said they would vote to block taking up other matters. The Libya resolution would authorize U.S. participation in the military mission for up to a year.

Wall Street paused today after its recent rally. Trading was light, and stocks were mixed. The Dow Jones industrial average lost nearly 13 points to close well above 12,569. The Nasdaq rose more than nine points to close at 2,825.

American abstract painter Cy Twombly died today in Rome after a struggle with cancer. He had lived mostly in Italy for many years. Twombly’s works featured scribbles, graffiti, and repetitive lines and unusual materials. Some of his paintings sold for millions of dollars at auction. In 2010, he painted a ceiling of the Louvre Museum in Paris, the first American chosen for that honor since the 1950s. Cy Twombly was 83 years old.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.