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News Wrap: Amid Political Turmoil in Iraq, Sadrists Call for New Elections

December 26, 2011 at 12:00 AM EDT
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HARI SREENIVASAN: A key member of Iraq’s coalition government called for new elections today, amid political turmoil and new violence.

The party loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr cited growing instability in the country. Last week, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called for the arrest of the country’s Sunni vice president on terrorism charges. Meanwhile, Iraqi forces stepped up security measures today after a suicide bomber killed seven people and wounded another 32 outside the Interior Ministry. That followed a series of bombings in Baghdad that killed up to 70 people last week.

The Arab League sent monitors into Syria today, even as the opposition reported new killings. Amateur video showed government tanks firing shells in the city of Homs. Activists also reported machine gun and mortar fire, and said 23 people were killed. The opposition says government forces have killed 275 civilians in the last week. Fighting between soldiers and army defectors has claimed another 150 lives.

A government report in Japan today depicted a cascade of confusion and mistakes after an earthquake and tsunami overwhelmed a nuclear plant. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant lost power and cooling when its backup generators were destroyed. That triggered core meltdowns, radiation leaks, and hydrogen explosions. The interim report concluded that plant workers had not been trained to handle such a crisis. It also found the government delayed giving full accounts of how bad things were and how much radiation was being released.

The military had little public reaction today after computer hackers claimed they stole the confidential client list of Stratfor, a security firm. Its clients include the Army, the Air Force and the Miami police. Members of the loose-knit group Anonymous said they had gained access to more than 4,000 credit card numbers, passwords and addresses. One hacker said the goal was to steal funds from individual accounts and donate the money to charity.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.