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News Wrap: Police Station Bombing Kills 13 in Pakistan

October 16, 2009 at 12:00 AM EDT
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TRANSCRIPT

JIM LEHRER: And, in other news today: A suicide bombing on a police station in Pakistan killed at least 13 people. It was the latest in a string of attacks across the country targeting government sites. “NewsHour” correspondent Kwame Holman narrates our report.

KWAME HOLMAN: The double suicide bombing hit the heavily protected police station in Pakistan’s main city in the northwest, Peshawar. Three suicide bombers, one of them a woman, launched the attack at the main gate. The blast destroyed part of the police station and left a gaping hole in the mosque next to it.

AURANGZEB KHAN, wounded policeman (through translator): I was outside of my office at the time. I heard only the sound of the blast. I knew straight away that a blast had taken place. I saw there was smoke and dust everywhere. After that, I don’t know what happened.

KWAME HOLMAN: Today’s attack was one in a series sweeping the country in the past 11 days many believed to be the work of the Taliban.

They have included hits on security forces in Lahore, army headquarters in Rawalpindi, and the offices of the U.N. Food Agency in Islamabad. In total, more than 150 people have been killed in the rising violence.

The Taliban have said it is designed to act as a warning against the Pakistani army’s expected ground offensive against militants in South Waziristan, the Taliban’s stronghold near the border with Afghanistan.

That offensive, and the growing violence, drew Pakistan’s top political and military leaders to a meeting in Islamabad today. In a statement after the meeting, Prime Minister Gilani’s office vowed to weed out terrorist elements.

JIM LEHRER: A suicide bombing also hit a mosque in Iraq northwest of Baghdad. The bomber opened fire on Sunni worshipers gathered for Friday prayers in Tal Afar. He killed 15 people before detonating his explosives. Ninety-five others were wounded in that attack.

U.S. health officials warn, the H1N1 swine flu virus is hitting harder and earlier than expected. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported flu activity is now widespread in 41 states. In Atlanta, the head of the CDC said more children have died in the last few weeks than typically die in an entire flu season.

REAR ADMIRAL DR. ANNE SCHUCHAT, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: There are now a total of 86 children under 18 who’ve died from the H1N1 influenza virus. About half of the deaths that we have seen in children since September 1 have been occurring in teens between the ages of 12 and 17. These are very sobering statistics. And, unfortunately, they are likely to increase.

JIM LEHRER: Federal health officials also warned of a delay in production of the swine flu vaccine. Forty million doses were expected to be ready by the end of October. But now only as many as 30 million will be dispersed by then.

The U.S. budget deficit for 2009 soared to a record high of $1.42 trillion. It’s the highest since World War II. Government data released today attributed much of it to a drop in tax revenues and to a rise in government spending during the recession.

Under the Obama administration, war costs have been included in the budget. The Bush administration excluded them from official deficit projections.

A rally on Wall Street that started midweek came to an end today. Stocks fell on disappointing earning reports from Bank of America and General Electric. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 67 points, to close at 9996. The Nasdaq fell 16 points, to close above 2156. For the week, the Dow gained more than 1 percent, the Nasdaq rose eight-tenths-of-a-percent.

Authorities in Colorado said today there was no evidence the big Colorado balloon incident was a hoax. The silver helium balloon traveled 50 miles over two hours yesterday, and was believed to have a 6-year-old boy on board. That prompted a massive rescue effort, before he was found hiding in his family’s garage.

Last night, the boy told CNN, “We did this for a show.” But, today, his father insisted his son was just confused by the question.