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News Wrap: Refugee convoy attacked in eastern Ukraine

August 18, 2014 at 6:06 PM EST
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Wall Street surged ahead today on rising homebuilder confidence, falling oil prices and other factors. The Dow Jones industrial average gained nearly 176 points to close well over 16,838; the Nasdaq rose 43 points to close at 4,508, the highest it’s been in 14 years; and the S&P 500 added 16 to finish at 1,971.

A five-day cease-fire between Israel and Hamas was extended another 24 hours this evening. Egyptian officials mediating negotiations said that will give more time to try to work out a longer-term truce. Meanwhile, the Israeli security service said it foiled an attempt by Hamas to topple Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who rules the West Bank.

Activists now say Islamic State fighters in Syria shot and beheaded hundreds of people after a failed uprising. The victims belonged to a tribe that battled the jihadis in Eastern Syria near the Iraqi border. The Islamic State has declared a Muslim caliphate across a swathe of Syria and Iraq.

In Ukraine, the military reported dozens of civilians were killed in a rocket attack on a convoy of refugees. Their buses came under fire near the rebel-held city of Luhansk, where government forces advanced over the weekend. Government officials blamed the separatists for the attack.

ANDRIY LYSENKO, Spokesman, Ukraine National Security Council (through interpreter): Terrorists committed a bloody crime. Terrorists fired at a column of civilians near Luhansk who were trying to flee the zone of military actions, from multiple missile complexes and mortars that were handed to the bandits by the Russian Federation. A lot of people died, including women and children.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Rebels denied they have the capability to carry out such an attack. Instead, they blamed the military.

Elsewhere, hundreds of Russian trucks carrying humanitarian aid remained parked at a border checkpoint. They will undergo X-ray inspection as part of an agreement reached between Russia and Ukraine.

Anti-government protesters in Pakistan insisted today that they will not back down until Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif resigns. Since the weekend, tens of thousands of demonstrators have occupied two main streets in the capital, Islamabad, blocking traffic and shutting down businesses. They accuse Sharif of rigging last year’s elections.

British police today questioned some of the 35 Afghan Sikhs found in a shipping container. The stowaways ranged in age from 1 to 72. Dockworkers heard them screaming for help on Saturday. One man was declared dead. Others suffered hypothermia and dehydration. A truck delivered the container to a Belgian port, where a ship brought it to Britain.

Mental and developmental disabilities among American children rose slightly between 2001 and 2011. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh say 8 percent of all children were affected. Those living in poverty remain more likely to have disabilities, but the study said the rate among better-off families rose 28 percent over the decade.

And the cost of raising a child keeps climbing. The U.S. Agriculture Department reports a baby born in 2013 will cost a middle-income family an average of more than $245,000 before reaching adulthood. That’s up nearly 2 percent from 2012.

Former U.S. Senators James Jeffords of Vermont died today. He had been in declining health. Jeffords gained the national spotlight in 2001 when he quit the Republican Party and became an independent. The move gave control of the Senate to Democrats. He retired in 2007 after more than 30 years in Washington. James Jeffords was 80 years old.