ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistani security forces in a troubled northwestern tribal region foiled an overnight cross-border attack from Afghanistan, killing six militants, two military officials said Wednesday.
The foreign ministry lodged a protest over the attack on a Pakistani border post and urged Kabul to take steps to eliminate "terrorist sanctuaries" on Afghan soil. It was a telling reversal for Pakistan, which for years has been accused by both Afghanistan and the United States of harboring insurgents that carry out such attacks from its side of the border.
Many militants are thought to have fled across the frontier after the Pakistani military on June 15 launched a major operation against insurgent safe havens in the North Waziristan region, which borders Afghanistan. Washington has for years urged Islamabad to launch such an operation against local and foreign militants using North Waziristan as a base for attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif tried to start peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban, but approved the military operations after militants attacked the country's busiest airport in the port city of Karachi.
Since then, the military said it has killed 570 militants and lost 34 soldiers. Authorities say over 800,000 people have also fled North Waziristan.
The overnight attack took place in Pakistan's troubled northwestern Dir tribal region when a group of about 70 militants attacked a border post on Tuesday night. The troops returned fire, killing six attackers and wounding nine others, the officials said. They said the rest fled back to Afghanistan.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to media.
A foreign ministry statement said a "strong protest" was lodged over the attack and that Afghan authorities were urged "to take effective steps to stop the use of Afghan territory for repeated cross border fire and physical attacks by terrorists".
It added that Pakistan urged Kabul to take measures "to eliminate terrorist sanctuaries on Afghan territory."
Pakistan and Afghanistan share a 2,250-kilometer (1,400-mile) border.
JEBALIYA REFUGEE CAMP, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israeli tank shells slammed into a crowded U.N. school sheltering Gazans displaced by fighting on Wednesday, killing 15 and wounding 90 after tearing through the walls of two classrooms, a spokesman for a U.N. aid agency and a health official said.
The Israeli military said mortar shells had been fired from near the school, and that soldiers fired back.
Later Wednesday, the Israeli military declared a four-hour humanitarian cease-fire in parts of Gaza beginning at 3:00 p.m. Hamas had no immediate comment.
Israeli airstrikes and shelling also killed 40 Palestinians elsewhere in the coastal territory on Wednesday, including multiple members of two families struck in their homes, health officials said.
The new violence further dimmed hopes of a cease-fire.
The strike at the U.N. school in the Jebaliya refugee camp came as part of Israel's heaviest air and artillery assault in more than three weeks of Israel-Hamas fighting.
The Israeli campaign escalated on Tuesday, with airstrikes destroying key symbols of Hamas power, including the home of the top Hamas leader. Gaza's only power plant was shut down after shells set its fuel tank on fire.
On Wednesday, Israeli aircraft struck dozens of Gaza sites, including five mosques it said were being used by militants, while several other areas came under tank fire.
In Jebaliya, tank shells hit the U.N. school before dawn, said Adnan Abu Hasna, a spokesman for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency. The agency is sheltering more than 200,000 people displaced by the fighting at dozens of U.N. schools across the coastal strip.
Assad Sabah said he and his five children were huddling under desks in one of the classrooms because of the constant sound of tank fire throughout the night.
"We were scared to death," he said. "After 4:30 a.m., tanks started firing more. Three explosions shook the school."
"One classroom collapsed over the head of the people who were inside," he said.
In one classroom, the front wall was blown out, leaving debris and bloodied clothing. Another strike tore a large round hole into the ceiling of a second-floor classroom. The wall of the lavatories was also damaged.
The Israeli military said it fired after its soldiers were targeted by mortars operating from the vicinity of the school.
"In response, soldiers fired toward the origins of fire. And we're still reviewing the incident," the military said in a statement.
About two hours after the strike, hundreds of people still crowded the school courtyard, some dazed, others wailing.
Aishe Abu Darabeh, 56, sat on the ground with her relatives.
"Where will we go?" she asked. "Where will we go next? We fled and they (the Israelis) are following us."
Four of the dead were killed just outside the school compound, two in their home nearby and two in the street, after returning from pre-dawn prayers, their relatives said.
The bodies of two members of the al-Najar family, 56-year-old Shaher and his 41-year-old brother, Bassem, were laid out in one of the rooms of their small home, surrounded by wailing relatives. Outside the gate, another relative held on to his crying son, hugging him tight and saying: "I'm here, I'm not going anywhere."
Abu Hasna, the U.N. agency spokesman, said the international community must step in.
"It's the responsibility of the world to tell us what we shall do with more than 200,000 people who are inside our schools, thinking that the U.N. flag will protect them," he said. "This incident today proves that no place is safe in Gaza."
Ashraf al-Kidra, a Gaza health official, said at least 15 people were killed and about 90 wounded in the school strike.
In all, 55 Palestinians were killed by airstrikes and tank shelling in different areas of Gaza on Wednesday, al-Kidra said.
In the southern town of Khan Younis, 10 members of one family were killed when an airstrike hit a relative's home where they had sought refuge from the fighting, al-Kidra said.
After the strike, relatives climbed over large piles of debris, surveying shattered windows and demolished walls.
"When the strike happened, I was sleeping, me and my brother and one of my relatives, we were sleeping. And we tried to look through the window to see what happened. But we couldn't see anything because of the smoke. And when we came down, we saw everything was damaged," said Mohammed al-Astal, a relative.
In the Gaza City neighborhood of Tufah, shelling killed at last seven members of another family, including four children, said Ayman Sahabani, the head of the emergency room at Gaza's Shifa Hospital.
The total number of Palestinians killed since the start of fighting July 8 rose to 1,284, al-Kidra said. In addition, more than 7,100 Palestinians have been wounded.
Israel has lost 53 soldiers and three civilians.
Israel has said its Gaza operation is meant to stop Hamas rocket and mortar fire that has reached increasingly deeper into its territory and to destroy a sophisticated network of Hamas military tunnels used for attacks in Israel.
Gaza militants have fired more than 2,600 rockets toward Israel over the past three weeks, according to the Israeli army.
The Israeli military has said it is hitting targets linked to militants, such as rocket launching sites, weapon depots and Hamas military tunnels. Over the past 23 days, Israeli forces have hit 4,100 targets in Gaza, about one-third connected to the militants' ability to launch rockets at Israel, a statement said.
The military has not provided details on strikes in which multiple members of one family were killed. There have been several dozen such strikes, according to the Palestinian human rights group Al- Mezan.
The military says Hamas militants often launch rockets from crowded residential areas, thus endangering nearby civilians. The army says it has also given civilians a chance to leave dangerous areas by sending warnings in phone calls and leaflets.
On Wednesday, aircraft dropped leaflets over Gaza City's Rimal neighborhood. The leaflets urged residents to stay away from Hamas militants and to report possible rocket launches. The leaflet gave a contact phone number and email.
"The Israeli Defense Forces are going into a new phase in the coming operation and does not want to harm civilians," the leaflet said. "The army is warning residents in the areas where the operation will take place that for your safety, you have to keep away from terrorists and the locations from which they operate."
Separately, Israeli troops in Gaza's border areas are searching for Hamas military tunnels used for carrying out attacks in Israel. Israeli leaders have said troops would not leave until all the tunnels have been demolished.
The army said 32 tunnels have so far been located but did not say how many remain. Since Tuesday morning, troops have demolished three more tunnels, a statement said.
Enav reported from Jerusalem. Associated Press writers Ibrahim Barzak in Gaza City and Yousur Alhlou in Jerusalem contributed to this report.
NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks crept higher following news that the economy surged ahead in the spring. Trading was quiet as investors waited for a statement from the Federal Reserve later Wednesday. Most world markets were mixed.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average fell 14 points, or 0.1 percent, to 16,898 as of 10:42 a.m. The Standard & Poor's 500 index edged up two points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,972. The Nasdaq gained 20 points, or 0.5 percent, to 4,463.
THE ECONOMY: The Commerce Department said the economy grew at a 4 percent clip in the three months ending in June, helped by rising spending. A recovery in housing and larger outlays by state and local governments drove the gains.
TWEET: Stronger revenue from Twitter sent the company's stock up 21 percent in early trading. The social-networking company reported a quarterly loss late Tuesday but its revenue more than doubled over the year, thanks to new advertising tools and a surge in traffic from soccer fans following the World Cup. Twitter's stock surged $8 to $46.61.
LAYOFFS AND PROFITS: Amgen said Tuesday that it plans to lay off up to 15 percent of its worldwide workforce and close four sites, even as it reported second-quarter results that trounced WallStreet expectations. The drugmaker also raised its forecasts for its 2014 profit and sales. Amgen's stock climbed $6.59, or 5 percent, to $129.90.
BUSY WEEK: It's a busy week for economic news. Federal Reserve officials wrap up a two-day meeting Wednesday afternoon. There's a report on China's manufacturing industry out Thursday, and the U.S. Labor Department releases its monthly jobs report on Friday.
ONE VIEW: "U.S. data will be the main event," says Chris Weston, market strategist at IG in Melbourne. Sanctions against Russia remain a concern. Expectations of more penalties had dampened stocks over the past two weeks. The U.S. and Europe on Tuesday announced tougher sanctions against Russia in response to an attack on a Malaysian airliner over an area of Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists.
EARNINGS PARADE: WallStreet is in the middle of second-quarter earnings season, when big companies turn in their springtime results and tell investors how they think the rest of the year will shape up. This week, ExxonMobil and Procter & Gamble are among the heavyweights posting earnings.
NOT BAD: So far, the news has been much better than many expected. More than half of the companies in the S&P 500 have turned in results, and roughly seven out of 10 have reported higher profits than analysts projected, according to S&P Capital IQ.
EUROPE: Major markets in Europe barely moved. Germany's DAX inched up 0.1 percent and France's CAC 40 dipped 0.1 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.1 percent.
OTHER MARKETS: The report of stronger U.S. economic growth sent prices falling for Treasurys, driving U.S. government bond yields higher. The yield on the 10-year note jumped to 2.52 percent from 2.46 percent late Tuesday, a big move in the usually placid bond market. Benchmark U.S. crude for September delivery rose 49 cents to $101.53 a barrel.
AP Business Writer Yuri Kageyama reported from Tokyo.