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April 3, 2013 at 5:00 PM   |   Comments

Insurgent attack kills 44, injures 100

KABUL, Afghanistan, April 3 (UPI) -- At least 44 people were killed and nearly 100 others wounded Wednesday in a nine-hour attack on Afghan government buildings in Farah province, officials said.

The attackers were described as insurgents dressed as members of the Afghan National Army, CNN reported.

About three dozen of the dead were civilians and the rest were 10 Afghan security forces. Nine of the attackers died, said provincial Gov. Mohammad Akram Ekhpelwak.

Officials said a bomb-filled vehicle exploded outside the courthouse, part of a provisional government complex, while a trial of Taliban suspects was proceeding, the BBC reported.

Taliban insurgents claimed responsibility for the attack.

Farah Deputy Gov. Mohammad Yunus told a private Afghan television station militants detonated a "large explosive-laden vehicle" that damaged both government and non-government buildings.

After the initial assault, militants positioned themselves in several buildings, Yunus said.

An Afghan security source told the BBC, "First there was a suicide attack, later on a group of attackers started fighting."


Survey: Few senators plan to return pay

WASHINGTON, April 3 (UPI) -- Few U.S. senators say they'll give up part of their congressional pay during the federal budget sequester but most aren't saying what they'll do, The Hill said.

The Capitol Hill publication surveyed members of the Senate, which adopted an amendment urging members to give up 20 percent of their salary during the sequestration, which has resulted in furloughs of hundreds of thousands of government workers.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., introduced the amendment, telling The Hill at the time, "Every member of Congress should give up 20 percent of their pay to the charity of their choice or wherever they want to spend the money, just get it out of their hands, their account, because that's what they're doing to the private sector."

The Hill said Graham was one of five senators indicating they will give up some of their pay. The others were Mark Begich, D-Alaska, Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.

A White House official said President Barack Obama will return 5 percent of his $400,000 presidential salary to the U.S. Treasury in solidarity with affected federal employees, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel will take a pay cut this year in light of the 14 furlough days some employees will be forced to take, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. said members of Congress should not give up part of their pay because "it's necessary for us to have the dignity of the job that we have (be) rewarded."

The Senate offices of Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, John McCain, R-Ariz., Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., Bernie Sanders, Ind-Vt., Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., and Angus King, Ind-Maine, said those members already contribute some of their income to charity, The Hill reported.


W.Va. county sheriff killed, suspect shot

WILLIAMSON, W.Va., April 3 (UPI) -- Mingo County, W.Va., Sheriff Eugene Crum was shot and killed Wednesday and police shot a suspect as he tried to get away, authorities said.

Crum was in his police vehicle outside the courthouse in downtown Williamson just after noon EDT when a man got out of another vehicle, walked to Crum's vehicle and shot him, witnesses told the Williamson Daily News.

WKYT-TV, Lexington, Ky., said officials in the office of Williamson Mayor Darrin McCormick confirmed Crum was killed in the shooting. The TV station said the courthouse was put on lockdown.

Law enforcement officers shot the suspect as he tried to flee and arrested him, WCHS-TV, Charleston-Huntington, W.Va., reported.

There was no word on the condition of the suspect.

WOWK-TV, Charleston-Huntington, said Crum was known as tough on crime.


Bill would allow official religion in N.C.

RALEIGH, N.C., April 3 (UPI) -- Republican lawmakers in North Carolina introduced legislation to allow the state to establish an official religion.

The bill introduced Monday is titled the "Defense of Religion Act," The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer reported. The measure's backers say it is a response to a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union aimed at banning Christian prayers from Rowan County government meetings.

The lawsuit asserts that the First Amendment prohibition on an established church doesn't apply to state and local governments. Critics say that the courts will rule otherwise if the bill becomes law.

"The bill sponsors fundamentally misunderstand constitutional law and the principle of the separation of powers that dates back to the founding of this country," ACLU of North Carolina Legal Director Chris Brook said in a statement.

The ACLU sued the Rowan County commissioners on behalf of several county residents more than a year after the county was asked to stop its specifically Christian prayers.

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