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News Wrap: Turkish, Syrian Military Exchange Shots as Violence Boils Over Border

October 3, 2012 at 12:00 AM EST
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KWAME HOLMAN: Turkey and Syria traded shots today, as the Syrian civil war threatened to boil over.

It started when mortar fire from the Syrian side landed in a Turkish town, killing five people. Turkish officials said the shelling came from Syrian government forces. Hours later, Turkish artillery fired back at unnamed targets inside Syria. In response, the U.S. and Turkey’s other NATO allies demanded an immediate halt to hostile action against the Turks.

Meanwhile, three suicide car bombings killed at least 34 people in Syria’s embattled city of Aleppo. The attack was on a government- controlled section. The coordinated explosions hit a central square, destroying a number of buildings and littering the streets with twisted metal and concrete. At least 122 people were wounded. And the death toll is expected to rise as crews work through the rubble.

In Iran, riot police and protesters came to blows over the collapse of the national currency. The rial has lost a third of its value in less than a week. Today, merchants at Tehran’s main bazaar protested outside the stalls and closed for the day. Exchange houses and currency Web sites also were closed down. 

In the end, police arrested money changers and fired tear gas to disperse crowds. The protesters charged President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s policies have fueled the currency crisis. He has blamed Western sanctions imposed against Iran’s nuclear program. 

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged anew today to get to the bottom of a deadly attack in Libya last month. U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed after gunmen assaulted the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Now two leading House Republicans have charged the Obama administration rejected requests for enhanced security at the site.

Clinton cautioned today against a rush to judgment.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, Secretary of State: At the beginning of any kind of inquiry or investigation, there’s going to be different perspectives, different points of view, people trying to present what they believe applies to a certain set of circumstances. But I have also seen how important it is to get everything lined up and analyzed.

KWAME HOLMAN: Clinton also promised the investigative process will be transparent.

More than two million factory workers walked off the job in Indonesia today, in a one-day strike demanding better benefits. Hundreds of thousands marched through the streets of a Jakarta suburb. They called for an increase in the minimum wage, plus health insurance and Social Security for all employees. Workers also urged the government to revise a policy that lets companies hire temporary workers without benefits.

There’s new fuel for the long-running debate over affirmative action in college admissions. A new study by the Century Foundation concludes schools can have diversity without considering race. The report cited aggressive outreach and focused on class instead of color. But some schools, including the University of California, say those policies have not worked. The U.S. Supreme Court tackles the issue again next week.

Wall Street managed only modest gains today. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 12 points to close at 13,494. The Nasdaq rose 15 points to close at 3,135. But the price of oil fell sharply in New York, to $88 a barrel, amid new signs of slowing growth in China.