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News Wrap: Baghdad mosque bombed in wave of attacks

August 25, 2014 at 6:02 PM EDT
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GWEN IFILL: At least 58 people died in a wave of attacks across Iraq today. Most of the violence targeted Shiite districts. Scores of people were wounded.

The deadliest blast happened at this mosque in Baghdad. A suicide bomber detonated a vest packed with explosives as worshipers were leaving after midday prayers.

White House officials say the U.S. paid no ransom to win the release of an American freelance reporter on Sunday. Peter Theo Curtis was freed after being held for two years by the Al-Nusra Front in Syria. The group is affiliated with al-Qaida.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest says the government of Qatar negotiated the release.

JOSH EARNEST, White House Press Secretary: They told Mr. Curtis’ family that they didn’t pay a ransom. The United States made clear and it is clear to the Qatari government that we didn’t want them to pay a ransom. In fact, we encouraged them not to pay a ransom.

GWEN IFILL: Another American journalist, James Foley, was beheaded last week by the Islamic State group.

Egypt pressed new efforts today to broker another truce between Israel and Hamas, but there was no break in the fighting. Israeli airstrikes blasted targets in Gaza, killing at least nine Palestinians, and Hamas militants fired more than 130 rockets into Southern Israel. One person was injured by a mortar bomb.

There’s word that Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have intervened in Libya, with airstrikes on Islamist militias. Senior American officials told The New York Times today that it’s happened twice in the last seven days around Tripoli. Fighting erupted in June after Islamists lost control of parliament. Today, the old parliament reconvened and voted to disband the current government.

In Ukraine, the government accused Russia of sending a dozen tanks and armored vehicles across its southeastern border. Officials said they entered the country under rebel flags, but were intercepted by border guards.

In Moscow, the Russian foreign minister dismissed those claims.

SERGEI LAVROV, Foreign Minister, Russia (through interpreter): I haven’t heard about them, but there is more than enough misinformation around about our invasions. There were reports several days ago that the Ukrainian army destroyed a military convoy from Russia, and that those vehicles contained documents about leaves of absence. Even if we could imagine this as resembling truth to some extent, who would carry a library on missions like that?

GWEN IFILL: In another development, Ukraine’s president dissolved parliament and called for early elections in October.

Tributes poured in today for Richard Attenborough, the Oscar-winning British actor and director who died Sunday. His career spanned more than 70 films.

Sejal Karia of Independent Television News looks back on his life and work.

RICHARD ATTENBOROUGH: Welcome to Jurassic Park.

SEJAL KARIA: For more than 60 years, Richard Attenborough was simply a towering presence in cinema, whether in front of the camera or behind it. He won his first leading role age just 24 as a sadistic gangster in “Brighton Rock.”

Eventually, Hollywood came calling. And he starred opposite Steve McQueen in one of the most celebrated war films ever made, “The Great Escape.”  But Richard Attenborough became as revered for his off-screen talent as his on-screen magnetism. He directed “Gandhi” starring Ben Kingsley, a film which came to define his career.

BEN KINGSLEY: One hundred thousand Englishmen simply cannot control 350 million Indians, if those Indians refuse to cooperate.

SEJAL KARIA: It won eight Oscars, including for best director.

It is rare to find such successful and celebrated siblings as Lord Attenborough and his brother, the naturalist, Sir David. But his talent and his passion for filmmaking have made him one of cinema’s greats.

RICHARD ATTENBOROUGH: To work in the movies, to be allowed to express my feelings and my hopes and my aspirations is heaven on earth for me. And I would want to go on and on and on until I just fell off the twig and disappeared.

GWEN IFILL: Richard Attenborough was 90 years old.

On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 75 points to close near 17,077. The Nasdaq rose almost 19 points to close at 4,557. And the S&P 500 added nine points to finish just short of 1,998.