Kenya minister says 59 killed in attack at mall in capital; militants inside with hostages
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The attack by al-Qaida-linked militants at an upscale mall in Nairobi killed at least 59 people and wounded 175, Kenya's interior Cabinet secretary said Sunday.
Multiple barrages of gunfire erupted Sunday morning from inside the building where there is a hostage standoff with Islamic extremists nearly 24 hours after they attacked using grenades and assault rifles.
"The priority is to save as many lives as possible," Joseph Lenku said, reassuring the families of the hostages in the upscale Westgate mall. Kenyan forces have already rescued about 1,000 people, he said.
Lenku said that there are 10 to 15 attackers involved, and Kenyan forces have control of the security cameras inside the mall. Combined military and police forces surrounded the building.
Former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga told reporters at the mall that he has been told officials couldn't determine the exact number of hostages inside the mall.
Kenya mall: Reporter outside, 2 friends and toddler inside make personal, professional collide
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The frantic phone call came from a close friend staying the weekend with my family: She was inside Nairobi's most upscale mall and could hear gunshots. Her husband and 2-year-old daughter were inside too, but she didn't know where. Where should she go?
Over the next several hours my role as a reporter collided with my concern for close friends in mortal danger. Reporters everywhere must separate their emotions from scenes of horror, but that's a near-impossible task when your friends are facing attackers lobbing grenades and firing bullets.
Lyndsay called my wife two minutes after the first blast. It was 12:40 p.m. Saturday. Lyndsay, who was at a top-floor bookstore, initially thought it was a robbery. I rushed from home to the shopping center, a mile away. The scene was eerie: Gunmen had shot up cars at the mall's entrance. Bodies lay hanging from the vehicles.
Volleys of gunfire and small explosions rang in my ears as I and others ducked behind cars.
Lyndsay's husband, Nick, was with their daughter Julia in the downstairs cafe that appeared to be the initial attack point. He scooped up his toddler and ran. They ended up being pushed into a department store storage area and would stay there the next three hours.
Chinese court gives politician Bo Xilai life sentence in trial capping political scandal
JINAN, China (AP) — A court sentenced Bo Xilai to life in prison for corruption Sunday, burying the career of one of China's most up-and-coming politicians and lowering the curtain on a scandal that exposed a murder and illicit enrichment among the country's elite.
The former Politburo member and Chongqing city party leader was convicted of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power Sunday in a case that was set in motion by his wife's poisoning of a British business associate in late 2011. It was also was widely regarded as a political prosecution and a sign that top leaders had turned against the charismatic populist.
The Jinan Intermediate People's Court deprived Bo of political rights for life and confiscated all his personal assets. Although Bo could appeal the verdict, he was widely expected to have little chance of success.
"It's a political death sentence for him," said Dali Yang, a political scientist at the University of Chicago. "As long as the current circumstances stay, he cannot come back."
Despite fears of public strife or brutal political infighting spearheaded by Bo's supporters within the leadership, there has been no major groundswell of backing for Bo, either within the Communist Party or in the public — although he remains popular among many Chinese.
Rescuers battle mud, rain to slowly dig out victims of Mexico landslide
LA PINTADA, Mexico (AP) — Fourteen hours per body.
That's how long rescue crews with shovels, hydraulic equipment, anything they can muster, are averaging to find the victims of a massive landslide that took half the remote coffee-growing village of La Pintada, leaving 68 people missing.
The Mexican army's emergency response and rescue team slogged in pouring rain and several feet of mud with five rescue dogs on Saturday, recovering two women who were buried in the same area near a kindergarten, the second body under more than four feet of dirt. At least two children are believed to be nearby.
Lt. Carlos Alberto Mendoza, commander of the 16-soldier team, said it's the most daunting situation he's seen in 24 years with the Mexican army.
"They are doing unbelievable work, hours and hours for just one body," he told The Associated Press. "No matter how hard the day is, they never get tired of working."
Suicide attack on church in northwest Pakistan kills 56 people
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — A suicide bomb attack on a historic church in northwestern Pakistan killed at least 56 people Sunday, officials said, the deadliest-ever assault on the country's Christian minority.
The bombing in Peshawar, which wounded another 120 people, underlines the threat posed by Islamic extremists as the government seeks a peace deal with domestic Taliban militants. It will likely intensify criticism from those who believe that negotiating peace with militants is a mistake.
It occurred as hundreds of worshippers were coming out of the church in the city's Kohati Gate district after services to get a free meal of rice offered on the front lawn, said a top government administrator, Sahibzada Anees.
It was not immediately clear whether one or two suicide bombers carried out the attack.
Witnesses said they heard two blasts, the second more powerful than the first. One police officer, Zahir Shah, said he believed both blasts were caused by suicide bombers.
Obama to lead mourning for the 12 killed in Navy Yard shooting, visit with victims' families
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is set to mourn the men and women killed in the Washington Navy Yard shooting at a memorial service in their honor.
Sunday's late-afternoon service is being held at the Marine Barracks Washington in southeast Washington, not far from the Navy facility where authorities say 34-year-old Aaron Alexis fatally shot a dozen people last Monday morning. Police killed Alexis in a gun battle.
The president and first lady Michelle Obama will also visit with the victims' families.
The dead range in age from 46 to 73, and include civilian employees and contractors. Eight people were also hurt, including a police officer and two others who suffered gunshot wounds.
Obama spokesman Jay Carney says the president wants to mourn the loss of life and share in the nation's pain after another mass shooting.
NATO says 3 US soldiers killed by gunman wearing Afghan security forces uniform
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — An Afghan wearing a security forces uniform turned his weapon against U.S. troops Saturday, killing three in eastern Afghanistan, officials said, in another apparent attack by a member of the Afghan forces against their international allies.
The shooting took place in Gardez, capital of eastern Paktia province, Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi, an Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman, said. The area, near the border with Pakistan, has been a front line in fighting with the Taliban and other militants.
The attack took place inside a base of the Afghan army in the city, according to a security official in Gardez, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to give details while the incident was still under investigation.
A U.S. Defense Department official confirmed that all three soldiers were Americans, but that no further details would be released until after their relatives had been notified. NATO said the shooting was carried out by a gunman wearing the uniform of the Afghan National Security Forces, but it gave no further details.
Killings by uniformed Afghans of foreign soldiers and civilians rose dramatically last year, eroding confidence between the sides at a crucial turning point in the conflict. So-called insider attacks killed 62 personnel in 47 incidents last year compared to 35 killed in 21 attacks a year earlier, according to NATO.
Obama urges supporters of gun limits to help push stalled legislation after mass shootings
WASHINGTON (AP) — Days after mass shootings in both of his hometowns, President Barack Obama urged his most ardent supporters Saturday "to get back up and go back at it" and help push stalled legislation out of Congress so dangerous people won't get their hands on guns.
"We can't rest until all of our children can go to school or walk down the street free from the fear that they will be struck down by a stray bullet," Obama said in a keynote speech to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's annual awards dinner.
Legislation calling for expanded background checks failed to clear the Senate earlier this year despite a strong push by Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, people whose loved ones had been killed by gunfire and other gun-control advocates.
The bill was part of a package of measures Obama promised to put the full weight of his office behind after 20 first-graders and six educators were killed last December in a mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.
Republicans and some Democrats voted against the measure.
Suicide bombers target mourners at Shiite funeral as day of violence in Iraq claims 96 lives
BAGHDAD (AP) — Two suicide bombers, one in an explosives-laden car and the other on foot, struck a cluster of funeral tents packed with mourning families in a Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad, the deadliest in a string of attacks around Iraq that killed at least 96 people on Saturday.
The assaults, the latest in a months-long surge of violence, are a chilling reminder of insurgents' determination to re-ignite sectarian conflict more than a decade after the U.S.-led invasion.
Thousands of Iraqis have been killed in violent attacks in recent months — a level of bloodshed not seen since Iraq pulled back from the brink of civil war in 2008 — despite appeals for restraint from Shiite and Sunni political leaders.
The attack on the funeral was one of the largest single terrorist assaults on civilians in Iraq in recent years. It happened shortly before sunset in the densely populated Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City in northeastern Baghdad.
Police said at least 72 people were killed and more than 120 were wounded in that attack. One bomber was able to drive up near the tent before detonating his deadly payload, and another on foot blew himself up nearby, police said.
Republican divide over health law preview fights to rebuild party, seize White House in 2016
MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. (AP) — A clear divide over the health care law separates the emerging field of potential GOP candidates for the 2016 presidential race, previewing the battles ahead as they try to rebuild their party and seize the White House.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz says he will fight "with every breath" to stop President Barack Obama's signature domestic achievement, even if that means shutting down parts of the federal government. It's an approach that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush calls "quite dicey" politically for Republicans. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky says flatly that a shutdown is "a dumb idea."
"I'm acknowledging we probably can't defeat or get rid of Obamacare," Paul told reporters Saturday while attending a Republican conference in Michigan. "But by starting with our position of not funding it maybe we get to a position where we make it less bad."
Allied on the other side with Cruz are U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and others who say they are making a principled stand, willing to oppose the law at all costs.
Then there are those taking what they call a pragmatic approach by accepting the law, if grudgingly, and moving on. This group includes Govs. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who says a shutdown would violate the public trust.