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News Wrap: Dozens Killed in Attacks Across Pakistan

October 15, 2009 at 12:00 AM EST
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JIM LEHRER: In other news today: At least 39 people were killed in a series of attacks across Pakistan. Gunmen and car bombers struck in the country’s second largest city and two others closer to the Afghan border.

We have a report narrated by Angus Walker of Independent Television News.

ANGUS WALKER: One of three simultaneous attacks in Lahore, one of Pakistan’s major cities, the targets, heavily guarded police and army bases. Teams of militants, some climbing over back walls, had opened fire.

Three of the gunmen reportedly blew themselves up to avoid capture. This was one of Pakistan’s bloodiest days in a country that faces dozens of terror attacks every week. In the northern town of Kohat, a car bomb partly destroyed a police station — in Peshawar, in the Northwest Frontier, and near the Afghan border, another car bomb near government housing.

In total, 39 people lost their lives today. This is the man who will get the blame, the new leader of Pakistan’s main Taliban group.

Hakimullah Mehsud took control when his predecessor was reported killed by a U.S. drone missile strike in August.

Hakimullah is described as aggressive, keen to attack, not just in Pakistan, but also targeting U.S. and British forces in Afghanistan.

The current wave of attacks began last month. Sixteen people were killed following suicide attacks in Peshawar and Bannu. Then, at the start of October came three attacks in just one week in Islamabad, Peshawar, and Rawalpindi, leaving 75 dead.

And, on Monday, 41 people were killed in the Swat Valley, an area the Pakistan army is still clearing of militants. Pakistan’s government now says it’s fighting a guerrilla war with the Taliban.

JIM LEHRER: Pakistani officials have warned, Taliban fighters in the country are now joining with other militants and with al-Qaida fighters from abroad.

And U.S. economic news: New claims for jobless benefits fell last week to the lowest level since January, and the stock market kept moving higher. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 47 points, to close just below 10063. The Nasdaq rose one point, to close at 2173. And the price of oil surged again to well over $77 a barrel in New York trading.

The Social Security Administration formally announced today there will be no cost of living increase in benefits next year. That’s the first time that’s happened since adjustments began in 1975. Falling consuming prices were the cause. Some 50 million people will be affected. And President Obama has proposed giving $250 to each recipient to help compensate.

A 6-year-old boy was found alive late today in Colorado after a scare involving a helium balloon. It started when the balloon got loose from the boy’s home in Fort Collins. An older brother said he was inside a box attached to the balloon. The homemade craft reached 7,000 feet and flew for two hours, but, when it finally glided to earth, there was no sign of the box or the boy.

Authorities launched a frantic search, and, hours later, they found the 6-year-old hiding in a box in the home’s attic.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had a health scare last night. Court officials said she became drowsy on an airliner and fell from her seat. She was removed from the plane before takeoff and spent the night in a Washington hospital. Doctors blamed a reaction to a medicine. Ginsburg was reported to be resting at home today. She is 76 years old and had cancer surgery last February.