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An Afghan security guard shot three American doctors today at a hospital in Kabul. It was the latest in a series of attacks on foreigners in Afghanistan. The guard opened fire outside a facility run by CURE International, a Christian charity. The dead included a Chicago pediatrician who had volunteered in Afghanistan for nearly a decade.
SURIYA DALIL, Health Minister, Afghanistan (through interpreter):
These people were not carrying guns. They didn’t have military uniforms. They came here under immense pressure and were here only to serve the people of Afghanistan. This was an inhumane and brutal action, and unfortunately will impact our health services.
Also today, the latest partial results in the Afghan presidential election are showing former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah leading with just under 44 percent. Final results are due in mid-May, and it’s widely expected that a runoff will be needed.
The government of Syria intensified military pressure today around Aleppo, the country’s largest city. Opposition groups said at least 27 people died in airstrikes on a crowded market in the rebel-held town of Atareb. Scores of others were wounded. The attacks came amid reports the United States, through the CIA, is providing more weapons and training for moderate rebel factions.
To South Sudan, where the U.N. Security Council is warning of possible sanctions after hundreds of civilians died in an ethnic massacre. Council members voiced horror at the killings in the city of Bentiu, a day after they saw video of the aftermath. Fighting has raged in South Sudan since late last year.
Tensions between Ukraine and Russia escalated sharply today. Ukrainian forces clashed with militants in the east and claim they killed several. Russia answered with its own show of force.
Jonathan Rugman of Independent Television News narrates our report.
This morning, Ukrainian armed police ignored Russia’s warnings and attacked Russian separatist gunmen manning checkpoints in Eastern Ukraine.
Here outside Slavyansk, the separatists burned tires, apparently to cover their retreat. When one man tried driving up a nearby road afterwards, Ukrainian forces took no chances, firing warning shots and ordering him to the ground.
Ukrainian helicopters flew overhead and armored personnel carriers moved in. Moscow said it would begin military exercises of its own, President Putin saying that if Kiev used force, it was a serious crime that would have consequences.
PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN, Russia (through interpreter):
This is simply a punitive operation. And, of course, it will have consequences for those who make decisions like this. And that includes relations between our states. We will see how things develop and draw conclusions based on day-to-day reality.
The Russian army has not invaded Eastern Ukraine, and today’s violence may not be enough to turn these Russian exercises along the border into the real thing, but the rhetoric on both sides is certainly worsening.
OLEKSANDR TURCHYNOV, Acting President, Ukraine (through interpreter):
We demand that the Russian Federation stop interfering in the internal affairs of Ukraine, stop permanent threats and blackmail, and move troops back from the eastern border. JONATHAN RUGMAN: Later in the day, Ukrainian forces pulled back from this checkpoint, allowing the pro-Russian men back in, so no tactical advantage achieved.
Later, Ukraine demanded that Russia explain its troop movements within 48 hours. And U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called the exercises dangerously destabilizing.
Classes have resumed at the South Korean school hit hardest by last week’s ferry disaster. More than 300 people from the high school are believed to have died when the vessel went down. Divers retrieved more bodies from the water today, bringing the number of confirmed deaths to 171; 130 passengers are still missing.
Back in this country, Vermont lawmakers gave final approval overnight to the first state law mandating that genetically modified food be labeled as such. The governor has said he will sign it. The measure passed over objections by the food industry, which has until July 2016 to comply.
On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average was unchanged at 16,501; the Nasdaq rose 21 points to close at 4,148; and the S&P 500 added three to finish at 1,878.