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News Wrap: Islamic State claims Beirut suicide bombings

In our news wrap Thursday, two suicide bombings in Beirut killed at least 37 people and wounded almost 200 more. The Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for the attacks. Also, protests spread across Afghanistan in response to a rash of beheadings.

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  • GWEN IFILL:

    Two suicide bombers killed at least 43 people and wounded nearly 200 more in Lebanon today. The blasts occurred just outside the capital, Beirut, in a suburb considered a stronghold of Hezbollah. The Shiite militant group has close ties to Iran and Syria.

    At the scene, people pulled victims from under wreckage and shattered glass strewn across the streets. The Islamic State group quickly claimed responsibility for the attack.

    Protests spread across Afghanistan today, amid demands for greater security, galvanized by a brutal crime. Demonstrators from multiple ethnic and sectarian groups turned out in three provinces to condemn the beheadings of seven Shiite Hazaras. It came a day after 10,000 people protested the killings in Kabul.

    Meanwhile, in Greece, nearly 35,000 striking public workers marched against new tax hikes and spending cuts mandated by the country's latest bailout. Tensions boiled over in Athens, where some in the crowd hurled Molotov cocktails at police. Officers fired back with tear gas and stun grenades, but the protesters insisted they're not going away.

  • MAN (through interpreter):

    It might sound a little weird, but the international lenders are asking for blood. They're not asking to be reimbursed. They're seeking to destroy us, to make us disappear. Why? We didn't bother anyone. I believe we're sending a message right now that we support the entire workers movement.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    The general strike is the first since Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his left-wing government came to power in January.

    European leaders pledged nearly $2 billion to African nations today to stem the flow of migrants and take back those who don't qualify for asylum. The two sides wound up a meeting in Malta, and agreed on emergency aid to address violence and food shortages.

    But the president of Niger argued it's just scratching the surface.

  • PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI, Nigeria (through interpreter):

    It's not enough. It's far from being enough. The needs are enormous. That's why we're calling on other partners to participate in the setting up of trust funds. And beyond that, what we hope for, it's not only in the form of public development aid. We hope for reform in worldwide governance.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Talk of the aid plan came amid new moves by several nations to begin tightening their borders. We will focus on the situation in one of those countries, Sweden, later in the program.

    Back in this country, the Department of Housing and Urban Development is calling for a ban on smoking in all public housing. A rule proposed today would affect more than 940,000 units. HUD estimates it will protect the health of 760,000 children and save more than $150 million a year in medical costs, repairs and preventable fires.

    Students at more than a hundred U.S. colleges and universities rallied today against mounting debt. There were demonstrations from Philadelphia to Hawaii. Protesters called for free tuition at public universities, and cancellation of student loan debt. It was part of an event dubbed the Million Student March.

    And on Wall Street, a new slump in prices for oil and other commodities pushed stocks sharply lower. The Dow Jones industrial average lost more than 250 points to close below 17450. The Nasdaq fell nearly 62 points, and the S&P 500 dropped 29.

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