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News Wrap: Mosque Attacks Kill 80 in Pakistan

May 28, 2010 at 12:00 AM EST
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Gunmen killed 80 people today in Lahore, Pakistan. Dozens more were wounded in the attacks on mosques during Friday prayers.

We have a report from Paul Davies of Independent Television News.

PAUL DAVIES: Pakistani soldiers and police officers seek cover, as they come under fire from gunmen who have stormed a mosque, turning their weapons on the worshipers and the security forces.

These members of a minority Muslim sect managed to escape from the mosque, but can only stand now and listen to the sound of their fellow worshipers being slaughtered. Local television captured the desperate efforts of one man to escape. He drops from a fourth-floor window. A gunman then appears and fires at him, before spotting the cameraman.

This, the latest in a series of attacks on religious minorities in Pakistan, targeted the city of Lahore and two mosques belonging to the Ahmadi sect. The assault began soon after the start of Friday prayers. Survivors say three of the attackers detonated explosives strapped to their bodies, causing mass casualties.

This was the moment the security forces signaled the brief, but bloody firefight was over, soldiers now in control of minarets. At least one of the attackers survived and was taken into custody. The Pakistani government believes this was the work of the Taliban, the Ahmadis a target because of their belief that there were other prophets after Mohammed.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Across the border, the number of Americans killed in Afghanistan reached 1,000 when a soldier was killed in a roadside bombing. And Afghan government forces battled militants again in Eastern Afghanistan. The fighting began last weekend when Taliban forces tried to seize a key border district.

In Eastern India, a train wreck killed at least 71 people and injured hundreds more. The government claimed it was sabotage by Maoist rebels. Crews struggled to free people from the wreckage after a passenger train derailed and collided with an oncoming cargo train. It happened about 90 miles west of Calcutta. Some investigators said dynamite was involved.

BHUPINDER SINGH, director general of police, Government of West Bengal (through translator): The driver said as the train was passing by post 11 and 13, he heard the sound of an explosion and there was a vibration. After that, all the coaches were derailed. Immediately after that, a passenger train was coming from another side that also felt its impact.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The area where the wreck happened is a known rebel stronghold.

One hundred and eighty-nine nations agreed today on a series of steps to move toward abolishing nuclear arms worldwide. The consensus came on the final day of a month-long conference at the U.N. The U.S. and four other nuclear states committed to speed up cuts in their nuclear arsenals.

And a conference will convene in 2012 on making the Middle East a nuclear-free zone. The U.S. House has agreed to extend unemployment benefits for another six months. The measure passed today by a single vote. It was part of a larger bill that renewed popular tax cuts. The Senate will not consider the bill until after the Memorial Day recess. That means thousands of people will lose their jobless benefits, at least on a temporary basis.

Wall Street tumbled again today to finish its worst month in more than a year. Stocks fell after Spain’s credit rating was downgraded. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 122 points to close at 10136. The Nasdaq fell 20 points to close at 2257. For the week, the Dow lost nearly 8 percent; the Nasdaq fell more than 8 percent.

One-time child star Gary Coleman died today at a hospital in Provo, Utah. He had suffered a brain hemorrhage. Coleman gained fame on the hit TV comedy “Diff’rent Strokes.” It began in 1978 and ran for eight seasons. In later years, he was in ill health from the kidney disease that stunted his growth. Gary Coleman was 42 years old.

Those are some of the day’s major stories — now back to Jim.