In our news wrap Friday, the family of American hostage Kayla Mueller says she was repeatedly raped by Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi before her death, according to U.S. intelligence. Also, Kurdish officials say they're investigating chemical weapons attacks by Islamic State forces.
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Online Editor’s note:
On Friday we reported that Islamic State group leader Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in a U.S. air raid in June. While there have been reports of his death in the past, none have been confirmed. We apologize for the error.
There's word of a new atrocity against an American hostage by the Islamic State group.
The parents of Kayla Mueller said today that U.S. intelligence confirms she was repeatedly raped before her death in February. Another hostage held with her reported that the ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, took Mueller as a wife and assaulted her at a compound in Syria. Al-Baghdadi died in a U.S. raid in June.
Kurdish officials in Iraq say they are investigating chemical weapons attacks by ISIS forces. They say the militants fired chlorine gas mortar rounds at Kurdish Peshmerga fighters. Just yesterday, The Wall Street Journal reported that ISIS militants likely used mustard gas against the Kurds this week. The report cited U.S. officials for the information.
The death toll in China rose to 56 today in the fiery explosions that laid waste to a major port. And there was growing speculation that firefighting crews may have triggered the disaster in Tianjin.
Tom Clarke of Independent Television News has this report.
Two days on, what look like containers are still exploding in the blasted remains of Tianjin's industrial zone. The destruction is almost absolute.
Four-ton shipping containers lie scattered like LEGO bricks. Thousands of cars, not just burned, their alloy wheels melted into puddles on the ground, inexplicably, those yards away almost unscathed. The question everybody wants answered is, what exactly could have caused a blast so powerful?
It obliterated a two-kilometer radius, punching holes through apartment blocks, taking interior doors off their hinges. But the questions will have to wait. The danger has not yet passed.
ZHOU TIAN, Tianjin Fire Department (through interpreter):
There are many different materials there that could cause chemical reactions. During the disposal process, explosions could occur at any time and there have been numerous small explosions already.
Specialist army chemical teams arrived today. Their test kits should tell them what firefighters may not have known initially. Calcium carbide stored at the site makes flammable gas when mixed with water. Ammonium nitrate, kept alongside it, is highly explosive.
It's now thought attempts to fight a smaller fire may have inadvertently caused the destruction. This mobile phone footage captured the initial blast. As this car reverses away 30 seconds later, its dashboard camera catches the second, far more powerful explosion, then the violence of its shockwave, so intense, the network of sensors used to enforce the nuclear bomb test ban triangulated the blast. Devices in Russia, Mongolia, Kazakstan and, incredibly, Palau all registered the detonations as large as a magnitude-3 earthquake.
One firefighter was found alive in the wreckage last night, but 13 are still missing. This evening, China's State Council announced a nationwide inspection of hazardous chemical storage sites.
Local officials have said smoke from the fires is not contaminating the air, but people in Tianjin could be seen today wearing breathing masks.
Eurozone finance ministers met in Brussels today and gave final approval to a third bailout for Greece. Hours earlier, after an all-night debate, the Greek Parliament backed the draft agreement, despite a rebellion by members of the ruling party. The deal requires new cuts in public spending and tax hikes, in exchange for $93 billion over the next three years.
Greece also got relief on another front, as a cruise ship arrived at the island of Kos to ease the migrant crisis there. The huge vessel will serve as a floating screening center and temporary shelter for thousands of Syrian refugees. They're awaiting official documents in order to travel elsewhere in Europe.
In Japan, the prime minister today acknowledged the pain his country inflicted during World War II. But he stopped short of making a fresh apology. Shinzo Abe's statement marked seven decades since Japan surrendered to Allied forces in 1945.
SHINZO ABE, Prime Minister, Japan (through interpreter):
On the 70th anniversary of the war, I bow my head deeply before the souls of all those who perished at home and abroad. I express my feelings of profound grief and my eternal sincere condolences. Over 80 percent of the population were born after the war. These generations and those in the future who have nothing to do with the war shouldn't have to continue apologizing.
Resentment toward Japan's wartime actions still runs high in South Korea and China. The Chinese state news agency dismissed Abe's statement today as a tuned-down apology.
Reports out of Israel say police have stepped up security at the U.S. Embassy there and at the home of U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro. According to the accounts, he's received death threats over the Iran nuclear deal. A U.S. State Department official wouldn't confirm the reports today. But he praised the Israeli police, and said — quote — "We take any threat seriously and take appropriate steps."
And back in this country, Wall Street finished this Friday with modest gains. The Dow Jones industrial average added nearly 70 points to close just short of 17480. The Nasdaq rose 14 points and the S&P 500 was up eight. For the week, the Dow and the S&P gained more than half-a-percent. The Nasdaq rose a 10th of a percent.