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News Wrap: Kenyan Troops Work to Secure Nairobi Mall Site After Four-Day Battle

September 25, 2013 at 12:00 AM EST
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GWEN IFILL: The U.S. Treasury warned today the government will run out of borrowing authority by October 17. That means a national default, unless Congress acts to raise the debt ceiling now set at $16.7 trillion. House Republicans will work on a bill this week, and they say they will attach a one-year delay in implementing Obamacare.

The FBI has concluded the gunman in last week’s Navy Yard shootings was driven by paranoid delusions. Aaron Alexis killed a dozen people on September 16, before he was shot dead by police. Today, the FBI released video showing Alexis carrying a shotgun in the moments before he opened fire. Investigators said there’s no sign he had any specific targets in mind.

VALERIE PARLAVE, FBI: We believe that his victims were random as he walked through the hallways and stairwells of Building 197. As referenced, we have found relevant communications on his electronic media which referenced his delusional belief that he was being controlled or influenced by extremely low-frequency electromagnetic waves for the past three months.

GWEN IFILL: The investigation is continuing. Meanwhile, the Pentagon has launched three separate reviews into the rampage. They will focus mainly on the Navy Yard’s security and employee clearance process. We will have more on the mental health angle later in the program.

Government troops in Kenya spent this day combing Nairobi’s Westgate Mall, making sure the site is finally secure after a four-day battle. The confirmed death toll stood at 72, but the Somali militant group behind the assault, al-Shabab, claimed nearly twice that many had died.

We have a report from Lindsey Hilsum of Independent Television News.

LINDSEY HILSUM: The bomb squad and their sniffer dogs prepared to go into Westgate. The siege is over, but there may be booby traps or unexploded grenades lying in the rubble.

This amateur footage shows the collapsed four-story car park. It’s not yet clear why it caved in yesterday, but it seems that was how the siege ended, with the terrorists buried underneath. The Red Cross says 71 people are still missing, but the government maintains there were very few, if any, civilians left inside.

JOSEPH OLE LENKU, Kenyan Interior Minister: We are convinced that there will be insignificant, if anybody still holed up there, except for the terrorists.

LINDSEY HILSUM: Dramatic new footage emerged today showing a plainclothes police officer trying to rescue a woman and her two children as the attack unfolded on Saturday.

MAN: Madam.

LINDSEY HILSUM: She plays dead. He reaches for them, but she doesn’t trust him. He worms his way around the barrier and calls out to her. Eventually, he convinces her that he’s not a terrorist. He’s able to pick up her little girl, and after a while all four run for safety.

Today, Westgate was still smoldering and some were beginning to ask, how could this have happened?

YUSUF HASSAN, Parliament Minister: There is a shocking failure in terms of intelligence because we knew for a long time that this was coming. Al-Shabab and other terrorist groups have threatened to attack Kenyans.

MAN: We move in one minute.

LINDSEY HILSUM: This afternoon, volunteers were preparing for their next distressing task, pulling bodies from the rubble. Whatever the governments says, others fear there are more dead, maybe many, inside.

GWEN IFILL: The death toll from an earthquake in southwestern Pakistan climbed sharply today to at least 285. The powerful quake rocked a remote area in Baluchistan province yesterday, with a registered magnitude of 7.7. Its force leveled mud-brick homes, and injured nearly 370 people. The force of the quake even pushed up a new island in the Arabian Sea off India’s southern coast.

In Western India, late-season monsoon rains have touched off extreme flooding, forcing thousands to flee to higher ground. At least three people have died. Entire cities in Gujarat state have been inundated by surging rivers, with roads and railway lines paralyzed. Large swathes of farmland are also underwater.

The United States today signed an international treaty that regulates global weapons trading. Ninety other nations have already done so. The U.S. signing came at the United Nations. Secretary of State John Kerry insisted it will have no effect on lawful gun sales in this country.

SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY: This treaty will not diminish anyone’s freedom. Make no mistake: We would never think about supporting a treaty that is inconsistent with the rights of Americans, the rights of American citizens to be able to exercise their guaranteed rights under our Constitution.

GWEN IFILL: The treaty is expected to meet strong resistance in the U.S. Senate, where it needs a two-thirds vote for ratification. Fifty nations must vote to ratify before its provisions can go into effect. So far, six have taken that step.

There are new signs of deepening divisions among Syrian rebels; 13 groups, including a powerful faction linked to al-Qaida, rejected the Western-backed Syrian National Coalition today. Instead, in a statement, they called for all rebel fighters to — quote — “unite under a clear Islamic framework based on Sharia law.”

Meanwhile, U.N. inspectors returned to Damascus. They will continue their investigation into a series of alleged chemical weapons attacks earlier this year.

The cost of mailing a letter in the U.S. could go up soon by three cents. In a bid to reduce a huge deficit, the Postal Service asked today to raise the price of a first-class stamp to 49 cents. It expects to lose $6 billion this year. The rate increase is subject to approval from the independent Postal Regulatory Commission.

In economic news, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill raising California’s minimum wage to $10 an hour, the highest of any state.

And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 61 points to close at 15,273. The Nasdaq fell seven points to close at 3,761.

The America’s Cup yacht race ended today with an unprecedented comeback by the U.S. team. Oracle Team USA beat Emirates Team New Zealand in the winner-take-all 19th race off San Francisco. The Americans had to win eight straight times in the last week, after New Zealand took a commanding lead. The America’s Cup is the oldest trophy in international sports.