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9 workers hurt in partial bridge collapse, authorities say

CORONA, Calif. (AP) — At least nine construction workers were injured Friday night after a partial bridge collapse at the 91 freeway undercrossing, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported.

All of the victims were crew members on a project to widen the bridge, and they were transported to the nearest hospital in unknown conditions, KABC-TV said.

Part of the East Grand Boulevard undercrossing collapsed about 11:10 p.m., said Cheryl Donahue, of the Riverside County Transportation Commission.

KNBC-TV reports that the workers were injured as an on-ramp was being put into place. According to the TV station, the Riverside County Transportation Commission says the jacking operation failed, causing the bridge deck to drop about 16 inches and strike the wooden support beams. The agency reportedly says in a news release that those beams hit workers and caused injuries.

The construction project began in 2014 as an initiative to widen the 91 Freeway with one regular lane and two toll lanes in each direction, KABC reported.

Palestinian attacker stabs 2 in Jerusalem in latest violence

JERUSALEM (AP) — A Palestinian teenager stabbed two Israelis in Jerusalem Saturday before being shot dead by police forces, the latest in a series of stabbing attacks against civilians and soldiers that have spread across Israel and the West Bank in the past week.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the two Israelis were walking from the Old City of Jerusalem toward the city center when they were stabbed by a 16-year-old Arab. Police forces on site noticed the men bleeding from stab wounds in their upper body and then the knife-wielding Palestinian running in their direction and opened fire. The attacker was killed. The two victims were lightly wounded and evacuated to hospital.

The wave of attacks started in Jerusalem over what Israel says are unfounded Palestinian rumors that Israel was expanding its presence at a sensitive holy site sacred to both Muslims And Jews. They have since spread to the rest on the country. On Friday, for the first time since the current violence began, clashes broke out along the Gaza border. Palestinians there burned tires and threw rocks at Israeli troops on the frontier. Seven Palestinians were killed.

The violence continued overnight in Jerusalem. Rosenfeld said police forces in an Arab east Jerusalem neighborhood came under attack and responded with gunfire, hitting a 25-year-old attacker. Health officials later confirmed the man had died of his wounds.

Recent days have seen a series of attacks by young Palestinians wielding household items like kitchen knives, screwdrivers and even a vegetable peeler. The youths had no known links to armed groups and have targeted Israeli soldiers and civilians at random, complicating security efforts to predict or prevent the attacks.

The violence, including the first apparent revenge attack by an Israeli Friday and increasing protests by Israel’s own Arab minority, has raised fears of the unrest spiraling further out of control. The unpredictability and brutality of the assaults, coupled with the young age of some of the attackers, have shocked Israelis and raised fears that a new Palestinian intifada — or uprising — could be underway.

Reports: At least 20 killed in Turkish capital bomb attack

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Two bomb explosions apparently targeting a peace rally in Turkey’s capital Ankara on Saturday has killed at least 20 people, a news agency and witnesses said.

The explosions occurred minutes apart near Ankara’s train station as people gathered for the rally organized by the country’s public sector workers’ trade union. The rally aimed to call for an end to the renewed violence between Kurdish rebels and Turkish security forces.

It was not clear if the attacks were suicide bombings. The attack comes weeks before Turkey’s Nov. 1 elections.

Television footage from Turkey’s Dogan news agency showed several people lying injured on the streets or being taken into ambulances.

“There was a massacre in the middle of Ankara,” said Lami Ozgen, head of the Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions, or KESK. “Two bombs exploded in very short intervals.”

There was no immediate responsibility claim. A government official said authorities were investigating the blast.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called an emergency security meeting to discuss the attack.

In July, a suicide bombing blamed on the Islamic State group killed 33 people in a town near Turkey’s border with Syria.

Afghan president appoints investigators for Kunduz airstrike

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani has appointed a commission to investigate a U.S. airstrike in northern Kunduz city that destroyed a hospital and killed at least 22 people, his spokesman said on Saturday.

The five-man team would leave soon for Kunduz to look into the cause of the Oct. 3 airstrike on a trauma center run by the international charity Doctors Without Borders, Ghani’s deputy spokesman Zafar Hashemi said.

The team would be led by the former head of the national intelligence agency Amrullah Saleh, he said, and would report to the president.

The airstrike was requested by Afghan ground forces, according to the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Gen. John F. Campbell, but mistakenly hit the hospital.

The bombing continued for about an hour and destroyed the hospital’s main building. President Barack Obama apologized and the U.S. military is investigating. The hospital has been abandoned.

Doctors Without Borders said that 12 staff members and 10 patients, all of them Afghans, were killed. Many more are still missing though all internationals have been accounted for.

Ghani met with representatives of Doctors Without Borders on Friday, his office said.

He told the group’s general director Christopher Stokes and Afghanistan representative Guilhem Molinie that he had ordered Afghan security forces to ensure the protection of humanitarian organizations, a statement said.

It made no mention of a call by Doctors Without Borders for an independent probe of the incident, specifically by the Swiss-based International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission — which is made up of diplomats, legal experts, doctors and some former military officials from nine European countries, including Britain and Russia. It was created after the Gulf War in 1991, and has never deployed a fact-finding mission.

Stokes said earlier that Doctors Without Borders — a Nobel Peace Prize-winning organization that provides medical aid in conflict zones — is awaiting responses to letters sent Tuesday to 76 countries that signed the additional protocol to the Geneva Conventions, asking to mobilize the 15-member commission.

For the IHFFC to be mobilized, a single country would have to call for the fact-finding mission, and the U.S. and Afghanistan — which are not signatories — must also give their consent.

Gas container explodes in restaurant in China, killing 17

BEIJING (AP) — A liquefied gas container exploded in a restaurant in eastern China at lunchtime on Saturday, causing a fire and killing 17 people, according to a local authority.

The explosion happened just before noon at a small privately run restaurant in Wuhu city’s Jinghu district, the Wuhu city government said on its microblog. Wuhu is in Anhui province, which is just west of Shanghai.

The restaurant was one of many in an alley about 50 meters (yards) long, said a worker at a rice noodles restaurant across from the one where the blast happened.

“When the fire broke out, people from nearby restaurants rushed to the scene and used fire extinguishers to try and put it out, but there was a lot of smoke and it was quite fierce and already blocked the door,” the worker, who would only give his surname, Wang, said by telephone.

City of Columbia hosting domestic violence walk

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — People in South Carolina’s capital city are bringing awareness to the issue of domestic violence.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. City officials are hosting the 9th Annual Mayor’s Walk Against Domestic Violence at Finlay Park on Saturday.

The free event is open to the public.

Last month, an annual report by the Violence Police Center again ranked South Carolina worst in the nation for deadly violence against women, with a rate of 2.32 women killed per 100,000 people in 2013.

That’s more than twice the national average and represents 57 known deaths, compared with 50 a year earlier.

South Carolina has been in the study’s top 10 states annually for the last 18 years.

Portraits of some of the victims in Kunduz hospital bombing

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — On Oct. 3, a U.S. AC-130 gunship — at the request of Afghan ground forces fighting the Taliban, according to the American commander in Afghanistan Gen. John F. Campbell — mistakenly bombed a trauma hospital run by Doctors Without Borders in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz, killing at least 10 patients and a dozen Afghan staffers. Many more were wounded, and many remain missing in the wreckage of the now-abandoned hospital. The aid group’s international staff members have been accounted for. President Barack Obama apologized and the U.S. military is investigating.

Family and friends of some of the victims spoke with The Associated Press. Here are their stories:


Muhibullah Waheedi

Waheedi, known as Dr. Muhibullah, 35, grew up in the Pakistani city of Quetta, where his family took refuge during the 1980s invasion of Afghanistan by the former Soviet Union. He graduated in medicine from Kunduz University before returning to Quetta, where he worked for two years with Doctors Without Borders, known by its French initials MSF. His was married with five children — three girls and two boys, the youngest aged three. He also had four brothers, three of them doctors.

“When Kunduz was overrun by the Taliban, we brothers were living together in a house close to the MSF hospital, but as things got worse, the others decided to leave for safer places — except Muhibullah. He stayed because he believed MSF was safe, as all sides in the war respected its neutrality,” said his brother Abdul Rahman.

“On the night of the bombing, he went to the hospital around 9 p.m., and we were in touch until about 11 p.m. when I went to bed. Around 1 p.m. on the following day, one of his friends called me and said Muhibullah’s body had been found and he was dreadfully burned. I tried to get to the hospital, but there was shooting and it took me some time.

“When I got there, I started looking for my brother among all the charred bodies but I couldn’t recognize him. Finally, I had to ask the man who had called me to show me where Muhibullah was. I could hardly tell it was him. It was inhuman. I will never forget that moment.

“I keep asking, why my innocent brother, who did nothing but help people no matter what side of the war they were on, was killed in this way?”


Aminullah Salarzai

Dr. Salarzai, 34, had worked in the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz for more than three years, after running a Comprehensive Health Center in Dasht-e-Archi district. He graduated from medical school at Balkh University, and was married with three children, the oldest a boy aged three, his cousin Hamdullah said.

When the Taliban seized Kunduz on Sept. 28, Salarzai took his wife and children to Chahar Dara, where he’d been born and where he believed they would be safe. With his family secure, Salarzai worked around the clock at the hospital, said Hamdullah, who worked at the hospital as a cleaner.

“We didn’t get any sleep for three days because more and more patients kept coming in,” he said. “The doctors didn’t get a wink.”

“On Friday, when I had finished my shift, I went to his room and suggested we go home and get some rest,” Hamdullah said. “He just looked at me and said ‘How can I possibly leave all my patients? I studied medicine to be of service to people who need my help, not to go home and sleep.’ “

At 10 p.m. that night, Hamdullah found his cousin in the operating theater, and again urged him to get rest. Salarzai repeated that his duty was with those who needed him.

Hamdullah then slept for a few hours in a dormitory, until the first bombs fell around 2 a.m. “My father called me and said he’d heard that Aminullah had been wounded. I called him, asked him where he was and what was going on.”

Salarzai confirmed he was wounded, said he was surrounded by flames and smoke, and told him to stay away, that it was too dangerous.

Hamdullah ignored him.

“I found him outside the operating theatre, his right leg missing, the rest of him covered in blood,” he said. They carried Salarzai to a table in the hospital kitchen, where other doctors tried to save him. But he was bleeding into his abdomen, and he would die without blood and medicine.

“So I ran for half an hour to the regional hospital to get supplies. But by the time I got there, friends called me from the hospital to say Aminullah had died.

“Before I left to get help, while his leg was being operated on, Aminullah told me: ‘Listen my son, I don’t think I will survive so please take care of my children.’ He told me ‘don’t worry, it happens to everyone, life is short, one day we will all be gone.'”


Zia Ul-Rahman

Rahman, 23, worked as a nurse in the hospital’s emergency ward. His uncle Mohammad Hassan described him as selfless. On Friday Oct. 2, Rahman returned to his home in Dasht-e-Archi, a rural district northeast of Kunduz city, to enjoy the weekly holiday with his family. “In the evening he said he was going back to the hospital because it was so busy with wounded people coming in all the time,” Hassan said.

“I received a call around 1 p.m. on Saturday to tell me he was missing. On my way to the hospital, there was intense gunfire and it was difficult to get through the blocked streets. My cousin was injured in the shooting. It wasn’t until there was a lull in the shooting that I was able to get through. I checked the bodies one by one and just couldn’t find him. And we still have no word.

“I’ve been trying to find out which MSF staff were there at the time, if anyone can tell me where he was at the time of the bombing. But there were just so many dead bodies, it was impossible to identify anyone.”


Zabihullah Pashtoonyar

Pashtoonyar, 28, joined the staff of MSF as a security guard just three months before the U.S. airstrike. Previously he had worked for more than three years as a reporter and news anchor at Radio Kaihan, where his former boss spoke highly of him. He had left when the radio station’s financial problems forced layoffs.

“He was a quiet man, very kind, and loved journalism,” said Zarghoona Hassan, director of Radio Kaihan. “Even though he left the station, he never stopped loving radio and would come by on Fridays and whenever he had spare time,” she said. He also worked with youth organizations in Chahar Dara, directing cultural programs outside the city.

Pashtoonyar had 11 brothers and 4 sisters, and had been married for six years, but had no children.

“He spent a lot of money on treatment for his wife,” Hassan said. “I know his only wish in life was to have a son or a daughter, but his life ended before his dream could come true.”

The Afghan Journalists’ Safety Committee said he was severely wounded by shrapnel and reached the government-run Kunduz Hospital too late to be treated.


Abdul Sattar Zaheer

Dr. Zaheer, 49, graduated from Kabul Medical University in 1994 and had worked for health institutions around Afghanistan before joining the medical staff of Doctors Without Borders in Kunduz, more than two years ago. A graduate of Kabul Medical University, he was married with eight children — four girls and four boys.

His son, Enayatullah Hamdard, a professor of agriculture at Kunduz University, said Zaheer worked in management, but with the influx of patients due to the Taliban attack, he took his place alongside the doctors at the trauma center who were almost overwhelmed with the influx of wounded.

“He told us that he was spending most of his time on patient care and that’s what he was doing when the bomb attack happened,” Hamdard said. At 6 a.m. on Oct. 3, other relatives went to the hospital to collect Zaheer’s body. “His corpse was completely burnt; I couldn’t bring myself to look at his face.”

Zaheer’s body was identified by Mohammad Ibrahim, his brother-in-law who also was a health professional at the Doctors Without Borders hospital. Hamdard said Ibrahim recognized what was left of Zaheer’s face.


Esanullah Osmani

Dr. Osmani, 35, lost his father when he was three years old and grew up with an aunt and uncles in Parwan province, near Kabul. He graduated from Balkh University medical school in 2011 and soon after joined the staff as an emergency doctor at the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz. He had recently been offered a position at Kabul’s Noor Hospital and had given notice that he would be leaving, said his brother, Najibullah Osmani.

“He loved his job and during the emergency after the Taliban attack, he was spending most of his time at the hospital, in the emergency room,” Najibullah said. Esanullah was in the emergency room when it was bombed, he said. “He was very kind. All the staff, local and international, loved and respected him.”

Ehsanullah, who had four brothers and four sisters, was also a stylish man and a proficient tailor, making fashionable clothes for himself as well as friends and relatives. “He also was a good swimmer, a good writer and public speaker,” Najibullah said. “He was fastidiously clean and liked to cook, holding dinner parties where he’d cook different foods from all over Afghanistan.”

Judge’s ruling upends Florida’s political landscape

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The political careers of several members of Congress — including a Republican seeking to become the next U.S. House speaker — could come to an abrupt halt under a sweeping overhaul of Florida’s electoral map.

Florida Circuit Judge Terry Lewis on Friday recommended new boundaries for the state’s 27 congressional districts, some of which would make it nearly impossible for U.S. Rep. Dan Webster — one of the hard-line conservatives who pushed John Boehner to resign as speaker and then turned on Boehner’s No. 2, Kevin McCarthy — to win re-election from his current central Florida district.

Lewis’ ruling caps off a three-year legal battle over the state’s political landscape that has led to lawsuits, special sessions and multiple judicial rulings. The Florida Supreme Court will have the final say, but the decision by Lewis is expected to carry weight since he has been involved with the legal battle from the beginning.

In the end Lewis recommended a series of changes that could lead to the ouster of Democratic U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham from her north Florida seat while resurrecting the political career of former Gov. Charlie Crist, who is expected to run for Congress as a Democrat. The judge also went along with a proposal that would make it harder for South Florida Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo to get re-elected.

But one of the most dramatic changes would hurt Webster, who tried at the last minute to intervene in the ongoing lawsuit but was blocked by Lewis. There’s nothing that could stop Webster from running in an adjoining and more GOP-friendly district, but he would have to introduce himself to a new set of voters.

Webster, whose maverick bid for speaker has contributed to his party’s chaotic attempt to find a successor for Boehner, said in a statement that the ruling was “just another step in the process of finalizing district lines.”

“I look forward to this process playing itself out to a final conclusion,” said Webster.

Registered Democratic voters outnumber Republicans in Florida, but the GOP holds a 17-10 advantage in the state’s congressional delegation. Even if Graham were to lose re-election, Democrats could pick up as many as an additional three seats under the map recommended by Lewis.

Gerrymandering — in which parties in power redraw electoral districts to give themselves an edge — is a nationwide phenomenon that many blame for Washington’s legislative paralysis, since it makes it harder for mainstream politicians who compromise with their opponents to get re-elected.

Florida voters sought to end this by approving a 2010 referendum amending the state Constitution to apply “Fair Districts” standards, which mandate that legislators cannot draw districts intended to help incumbents or a member of a political party.

Then, in a stinging ruling in July, the Florida Supreme Court said Republican operatives had “tainted” previous mapping efforts, and ordered eight districts redrawn. The House and Senate gathered in a rare August special session, but deadlocked over a new map drawn up by legislative staff.

The high court then turned to Lewis, who made his recommendation on Friday following a three-day trial, during which he sorted through seven different proposals. Three were made by the GOP-controlled Legislature, and four others by groups that sued over the current districts.

Lewis ultimately sided with a map prepared by a coalition including the League of Women Voters of Florida.

One of the key changes would radically alter the 5th district, now represented by Corrine Brown, a black Democrat, from a north-south configuration to one that stretches east-west across northern Florida, from Jacksonville to just west of Tallahassee. As a result, the city of Tallahassee would be split, and Graham, the daughter of former Gov. Bob Graham, would be placed in a solidly Republican district.

Graham, who is raising money for a 2016 campaign, said she’s “disappointed,” but still hopes the Florida Supreme Court will decline Lewis’ recommendation. “The map isn’t final and there’s no predicting what the Supreme Court will decide,” she said in a statement.

Brown, who has already filed a federal lawsuit to try to block any changes, blasted the ruling Friday and continues to argue that the new district will disenfranchise minority voters partly because some of the black voters counted in the district live in prisons.

“As a people, African Americans have fought too hard to get to where we are now, and we certainly are not taking any steps backwards,” she said in a statement.

David King, the lead lawyer representing the League of Women Voters of Florida and other groups, called the ruling “a great victory for the people of Florida and for restoration of representative democracy as it was intended to work.”

“If the Florida Supreme Court agrees with Judge Lewis and orders this map to be used, we will have ensured that Floridians have the opportunity to vote in constitutional and fair congressional districts in 2016,” King said.

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