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News Wrap: 9 Americans killed in brutal Mexican ambush

In our news wrap Tuesday, nine Americans, including six children, were brutally killed in an ambush in northern Mexico, about 75 miles south of the U.S. border. Mexican officials are investigating whether the attack was a case of mistaken identity. Also, Iran has announced it will start injecting uranium gas into centrifuges at its Fordo nuclear facility — turning it into an active atomic site.

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  • William Brangham:

    In the day's other news: Three American women and six of their children have been brutally killed in an ambush in Northern Mexico. They were members of a breakaway group from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

    The attack took place Monday on a dirt road between Chihuahua and Sonora states, about 75 miles south of the U.S. border. Amateur video showed one of their burned vehicles. Mexican officials are investigating the possibility that this was a case of mistaken identity, given the number of violent confrontations among warring drug gangs in that area.

    President Trump spoke to the Mexican president by phone today and offered unspecified U.S. help to ensure the perpetrators face justice.

    Gubernatorial and legislative elections are taking place in four states today, and they're seen by many as a bellwether for 2020. In Kentucky, Republican Governor Matt Bevin will try to hold off Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear.

    Mississippi's gubernatorial race pits Republican Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves against Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood.

    And, in Virginia, Republican control of the state legislature is up for grabs, while Democrats in New Jersey's state legislature are looking to keep their supermajorities.

    Iran announced plans today to violate yet another aspect of the 2015 nuclear pact. President Hassan Rouhani said Tehran will start injecting uranium gas into more than 1,000 centrifuges at its Fordo nuclear facility. That move would make Fordo an active atomic site, rather than the research facility Iran agreed it would be as part of the accord with world powers.

  • President Hassan Rouhani (through translator):

    We are aware of their sensitiveness towards the Fordo facility and those centrifuges. At the same time, we cannot tolerate unilateral fulfillment of our commitments and no commitment from their side.

  • William Brangham:

    President Rouhani said the action is reversible if Europe offers relief from U.S. sanctions. The U.S. withdrew from the nuclear pact last year. Today's announcement came a day after Iran said it's running twice as many advanced centrifuges as before. That machinery is key to enriching nuclear material.

    Yemen's government and separatist forces signed a power-sharing deal today to halt months of infighting in the country's war-torn south. Leaders from the pro-government coalition and the separatist Southern Transitional Council signed the Saudi-brokered pact during a ceremony in Riyadh. The deal would pave the way for a new cabinet and allow Yemen's exiled president to return to his country.

    In Southern Iraq today, security forces shot and killed three anti-government demonstrators. At least 13 people have died in protest-related violence across the country since yesterday. In Baghdad today, protesters massed on a bridge to block access to key government buildings. They occupied streets and set up barricades, but stressed it was security forces inciting the violence.

  • Man (through translator):

    They are pushing demonstrators toward violence. The protests are peaceful. They killed protesters last night, offended people and pushed them toward violence. Until the last second, our revolution is peaceful, not aimed at violence. Violence generates a violent reaction.

  • William Brangham:

    Iraqi security forces have killed more than 260 anti-government protesters since October 1.

    Back in this country, a Colorado man is in federal custody for his role in a bomb plot that targeted a synagogue south of Denver. Undercover FBI agents who arrested him Friday said he espoused anti-Semitic and white supremacist beliefs. He appeared in federal court yesterday and was charged with domestic terrorism. He could face up to 20 years in prison.

    We will get an inside look at the white nationalist movement later in the program.

    Jury selection began today in the criminal trial of President Trump's longtime confidant Roger Stone. He arrived at the Washington court this morning to face charges stemming from former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Stone is accused of lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstruction of justice.

    He pled not guilty to those charges in January. If convicted on all counts, he could face up to 20 years in prison.

    Stocks finished relatively flat on Wall Street today. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 30 points to a new record closing high of 27492. The Nasdaq rose a point, and the S&P 500 slipped three.

    And a passing to note.

    Acclaimed novelist Ernest J. Gaines died today. Born in segregated Louisiana, his work largely captured black struggle and perseverance in the pre-civil rights era South. Gaines received the MacArthur genius grant for his 1993 novel "A Lesson Before Dying." He also penned "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman" and "A Gathering of Old Men."

    Ernest Gaines was 86 years old.

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