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News Wrap: In Pakistan, Deadly Attack Targeting Christian Church Sparks Protests

September 23, 2013 at 12:00 AM EDT

GWEN IFILL:  In Pakistan, the death toll rose to 85, with more than 140 wounded, one day after a Taliban attack on a Christian church. It happened in Peshawar, where a pair of suicide bombers blew themselves up as worshipers were leaving a Sunday service. Today, Christians across Pakistan took to the streets to protest the attacks. Demonstrators blocked roads and demanded better security for the country’s Christian minority.

FATHER BASHIR JOHN, Pakistan: We want an end to extremism, terrorism, and barbarism in Pakistan. I appeal to the home minister to act to control the situation in the country and provide security and protection to religious minorities so that churches are safe.

GWEN IFILL: The Pakistani Taliban vowed to continue targeting non-Muslims until the U.S. halts drone strikes on militant leaders.

A court in Egypt today banned the Muslim Brotherhood and ordered its assets seized. It was the latest move in a crackdown by the military-backed government. About 2,000 Brotherhood members have been arrested since Islamist President Mohammed Morsi was ousted. The group was outlawed for decades, but reemerged in 2011, after President Hosni Mubarak was forced from power.

The United Nations is reporting dramatic progress in the global fight against AIDS and HIV. It said today there were 1.6 million AIDS-related deaths last year, down fully one-third from the peak year of 2005. The combined HIV infection rate for adults and children has dropped by the same amount since 2001. The numbers are even better for children, with infections cut in half since 2001. The U.N. credits greater access to antiretroviral treatments.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel and her conservative supporters celebrated a powerful showing in Sunday’s elections. They fell just short of an absolute majority in Parliament.

We have a report narrated by Matt Frei of Independent Television News.

MATT FREI: Her image has been peering at Germany for weeks. In fact, this election has been so much about her that someone was bound to do this.

But it took last night’s result to bring the lady to life like never before. The pastor’s daughter from East Germany, the quantum physicist who eloped with a quantum chemist, joining in the victory jig with customary understatement.

At Christian Democrat party headquarters, they haven’t cheered like this Chancellor Kohl helped to unite the two Germanys. What they all wanted to know its. Is the woman they call mom going to stop cracking the whip of austerity? No, she answered, again and again. This message may upset Greeks and Italians, but it still makes sense to German ears.

DR. CONSTANZE STELZENMULLER, German Marshall Fund: It is what Germany stands accused of, preferring austerity over growth. The German answer to that — and I have some sympathy for it — is, you know what? We want you to clean up your political economies and your dysfunctional systems, so that you don’t have to be administered by some European colonial bureaucrat.

MATT FREI: If Angela Merkel is to govern, she needs to form a coalition and because her junior partners failed to get any seats in the Parliament:

CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL, Germany (through interpreter): We are open for talks. I already had a first conversation with the head of the Social Democrats, who understandably asked to hold the first party convention on Friday.

MATT FREI: And that could spell instability for Germany’s Parliament, the Reichstag, and beyond. But then again, the woman behind the infectious hand gesture has emerged from the euro crisis as one of the most powerful leaders in the world.

GWEN IFILL: The woman at the center of a furor over the Internal Revenue Service in the U.S. is retiring. The agency confirmed today that Lois Lerner will not be back. She was placed on paid leave of absence in May, after she disclosed that the IRS targeted Tea Party groups for additional scrutiny.

Illegal immigration from Mexico into the U.S. may be rising again, after falling during the recession. The Pew Research Center’s Hispanic Trends Project reported that finding today, based on census data. It said the number of people living in this country illegally rose to 11.7 million last year. That’s up about 400,000 since 2009.

In economic news, BlackBerry agreed to be sold to an investors group for $4.7 billion. The troubled smartphone pioneer announced Friday it’s laying off 40 percent of its work force.

And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 49 points to close at 15,401. The Nasdaq fell nine points to close at 3,765.