WASHINGTON - A U.S. military commander has determined that Marines accused of killing civilians after a suicide bombing in Afghanistan last month used excessive force, and he has referred the case for possible criminal inquiry, The Associated Press has learned. The initial investigation of the March 4 incident, in which up to a dozen Afghan civilians are reported to have died, concluded that the Marines' response was "out of proportion to the threat that was immediately there," a senior defense official said Wednesday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the probe's results have not been released. The findings have been forwarded to Central Command, which has responsibility for U.S. military operations in the Middle East and Central Asia. The case has also been referred to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service for a broader criminal inquiry, the official said.
Snowstorm closes schools, grounds flights in Midwest
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CHICAGO - Hundreds of airline flights were grounded Wednesday, a major league baseball game was called and six people were killed in accidents on icy roads as yet another spring snowstorm hit the upper Midwest. North Dakota and South Dakota both measured about 7 inches, and 5 inches fell in Madison, Wis. "It's kind of flying sideways," hardware store owner Harvey Neu said in Menomonee Falls, Wis. "It's not like a gently falling snowfall. It's more of a get-out-of-my-face type of thing." About 500 flights were canceled at O'Hare International Airport because of poor visibility, said city aviation spokesman Gregg Cunningham. Milwaukee's General Mitchell International Airport also had delays and cancellations.
Al-Qaida claims responsibility for explosion in Algeria
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ALGIERS, Algeria - Al-Qaida's new wing in North Africa claimed responsibility for suicide bombings that ripped through the prime minister's office and a police station in Algeria on Wednesday, killing at least 24 people. The attacks highlighted the menacing spread of Islamic militancy across North Africa. One car bombing tore holes in the walls of the prime minister's office, where people in bloodstained clothes stumbled toward ambulances. Two other vehicles exploded outside a police station east of the capital, blasting craters into the ground and damaging the building. Some 222 people were wounded. The group that claimed responsibility, al-Qaida in Islamic North Africa, has carried out a series of recent bombings jeopardizing Algeria's tentative peace.