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Fate of Japanese hostages still unclear...Growing crisis in Ukraine...Suspect in NYC shootings found dead

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TOKYO (AP) — The White House National Security Council says U.S. intelligence officials are working closely with Japan to determine whether an online message announcing the death of a Japanese hostage is authentic. The posting claims that one of the two Japanese hostages held by Islamic State extremists has been killed, and demands a prisoner exchange for the other. But the post was deleted quickly, and militants on a website affiliated with the Islamic State group disagreed about the message's

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — At least 29 people have been killed in Ukraine, where rocket fire slammed into a market, two schools, homes and shops in a key port city today. As rebels announced the start of an offensive had begun on the city of Mariupol (mah-ROO'-pahl), Ukraine's president called an emergency meeting of his military officials and cut short a trip to Saudi Arabia to coordinate the government's response.

NEW YORK (AP) — The hunt for a gunman has ended in New York City. Police say a man suspected of shooting his two daughters, his girlfriend and her mother in their home has been found dead in an apparent suicide. The predawn shootings in Queens left a 7-year-old, her 31-year-old mother and 62-year-old grandmother dead and a 12-year-old critically wounded.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Police say two women have been shot dead and six other people were wounded in an early-morning attack at a home in Omaha, Nebraska. One of the wounded is in critical condition and two are in serious condition.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Dr. Ben Carson is appealing to Iowa conservatives with messages about securing the country's borders and cracking down on employers who hire immigrants illegally. The retired neurosurgeon called for a harder tack on immigration, expanded school choice and less government spending in a speech today at an Iowa gathering showcasing potential Republican presidential candidates. Carson also told the crowd that he's vehemently against the federal government diving further into health care.

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