In our news wrap Tuesday, Afghanistan’s military fought to recapture Kunduz, a provincial capital, after Taliban fighters stormed the city on Monday. Also, Yemen officials sharply increased the death toll of an attack on a wedding party. Saudi Arabia denied it was caused by one of their airstrikes, blaming rebels on the ground instead.
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Afghanistan's military fought today to take back a provincial capital, the first major city captured by the Taliban in 14 years.
The militants stormed Kunduz yesterday, in a major setback to the government. Today, Afghan troops and militiamen launched a counteroffensive, with U.S. air support, and a promise of more help from President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul.
PRESIDENT ASHRAF GHANI, Afghanistan (through interpreter):
Afghan security force made achievements today in Kunduz province. They have recaptured some parts of the government buildings. New reinforcements have reached Kunduz and Baghlan, and a battalion from the national army will get to Kunduz soon.
The Taliban disputed those claims of success, and later reports told of Taliban fighters attacking the Kunduz Airport.
In Yemen, medical officials sharply increased the death toll from an attack on a wedding party to 131. They blamed airstrikes yesterday led by Saudi Arabia against Shiite rebels. The Saudis denied it, and blamed ground fire from the rebels. Video of the aftermath showed collapsed buildings and burned wreckage, as onlookers gathered. It was the deadliest incident yet in Yemen's civil war.
President Obama and Cuba's President Raul Castro met privately today on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York. It's the second time they have held face-to-face talks this year, as part of normalizing ties. Cuba said Castro pressed again to end the longstanding U.S. economic embargo entirely. President Obama favors that move, but Republicans and some Democrats in the U.S. Congress are opposed.
The U.S. Senate worked today toward a final vote to avert a government shutdown. The temporary measure would fund federal operations through December 11. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also called for a long-term deal to cover the next two fiscal years.
Meanwhile, House Republicans were meeting to discuss strategy. California Congressman Kevin McCarthy is the favorite to replace the retiring John Boehner as speaker.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), House Majority Leader: I'm concerned about making a difference in everybody's lives. We want to make sure that we're closer to the people, that they feel this is their government, they're in charge and we serve them. Now, that's not easy and it won't change overnight, but that's our mission.
Boehner resigned after running afoul of Tea Party demands to defund Planned Parenthood, even if it meant shutting down the government.
For the first time, the head of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards, faced her Republican critics in Congress today. They have attacked the group after clandestine videos showed officials discussing how fetal tissue is used for research.
Today, Congressman Jim Jordan and others sparred with Richards over stripping the group of its federal funding.
REP. JIM JORDAN (R), Ohio: The nice things about these videos, it's — it's lifted the curtain. We can now see what's going on there. And that's why should fund the government and ship the money from this organization to organizations that didn't do this kind of behavior.
CECILE RICHARDS, President, Planned Parenthood:
The outrageous accusations leveled against Planned Parenthood based on heavily doctored videos are offensive and categorically untrue. I realize, though, that the facts have never gotten in the way of these campaigns to block women from health care that they need and deserve.
Republicans also accused Planned Parenthood of spending millions on political activities. Richards said the group keeps federal funds strictly segregated from its political arm.
The director of national intelligence told senators today he doesn't have high hopes for a new cyber-agreement with China. It's supposed to prevent state-sponsored hacking aimed at businesses. But when James Clapper was asked today if he's optimistic it will work, he said no. He said economic sanctions might be better.
And on Wall Street, stocks had a mixed session, one day after the big losses. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 47 points to close near 16050. The Nasdaq fell 26 points, and the S&P 500 added two.