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News Wrap: Rescue Efforts for Pakistan Quake Victims Thwarted by Security Threat

September 26, 2013 at 12:00 AM EST
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JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.S. and Russia reached agreement late today on the wording of a U.N. resolution on disposing of Syria’s chemical arsenal. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, said the measure would be legally obligating on Damascus to surrender all chemical weapons. The full U.N. Security Council is meeting tonight on the resolution.

Also at the U.N., the U.S. and the other permanent members of the Security Council resumed nuclear talks with Iran. The session lasted more than an hour. And when it was over, the European Union’s foreign policy chief said all sides agreed to hold full-scale negotiations in Geneva next month — more on this later in the program.

The death toll from Tuesday’s massive earthquake in southwestern Pakistan kept rising today to 355. People were still digging through the rubble of flattened villages looking for belongings. Survivors pleaded for aid and medical attention, and many complained help is not getting to remote areas.

IKRAM HUSSAIN, Pakistan: Forty-eight hours have passed. The people here have nothing to eat. They don’t have clean drinking water. No government teams have reached us so far.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The Pakistani interior minister said today that security problems are making it hard for rescuers. Hours later, a government helicopter surveying the quake damage narrowly missed being hit by two rockets. They were fired on by militants who are seeking independence for Baluchistan.

In Iraq, a new round of bombings killed nearly two dozen people and wounded scores more. The attacks continued a wave of violence that’s claimed nearly 6,000 lives this year. Most of today’s victims died at a marketplace in a Shiite village north of Baghdad.

The Somali extremist group that attacked a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, has struck again. Al-Shabab fighters assaulted two Kenyan towns near the border with Somalia today, killing three people. Meanwhile, Kenyans have begun burying the 67 confirmed dead in the mall siege.

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

LINDSEY HILSUM: A Hindu funeral for Mitul Shah, marketing director for Bidco, one of Kenya’s biggest companies.

International attention has turned to the investigation, but many here are still deep in mourning. Mr. Shah had the chance to escape from the top floor of Westgate, but he stayed to try and protect children there.

This is just one of 67 funerals, and we don’t know how many more there will be, because an unknown number of bodies are still lying in the rubble at Westgate. People in Kenya are going through grief, but also fear and uncertainty, because the government still hasn’t answered so many of their questions.

The M.P. for the area paralyzed in a carjacking incident a few years back is angry about the intelligence failure that led to a terror attack in his constituency.

TIM WANYONYI, Kenyan Parliament Member: If they are not up to the job, we must get them out and get people who can work, because if you are there, you are there to protect their lives and property of people. And you’re not doing it.

LINDSEY HILSUM: The Kenyan Defense Force released these pictures showing wrecked cars which tumbled down from the roof car park when it collapsed. We still don’t know why.

Today, foreign forensic teams were seen on the site. Others, including Americans and Germans, arrived at the mortuary to examine bodies for clues, a painstaking process that will take some time.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Al-Shabab is known to have recruited among Somalis living in the U.S., but, in Washington today, Attorney General Eric Holder played down the potential for a domestic attack.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER, United States: I wouldn’t say that we have any specific, credible evidence that Al-Shabab is planning to do anything in the United States. I’m not sure if they have the capacity to do anything in the United States.

It doesn’t mean, however, that we’re not taking the threat that they pose as a — we are taking that as a serious one.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Holder also said there is no evidence that Americans were involved in planning the Nairobi attack.

There will be no freedom for former Liberian President Charles Taylor. The one-time leader looked on today as the International Criminal Court upheld his convictions for war crimes and crimes against humanity. He’d been found guilty of aiding rebels in Sierra Leone during a bloody civil war.

Prosecutor Brenda Hollis welcomed the court’s announcement in the Netherlands.

BRENDA HOLLIS, Prosecutor, International Criminal Court: This final decision affirms Taylor’s criminal responsibility for grave crimes which caused untold suffering to many thousands, if not tens of thousands of victims in Sierra Leone. Today’s judgment brings some measure of justice to those victims who suffered so horribly because of Charles Taylor.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Taylor’s conviction carries a 50-year prison sentence.

A former Montana high school teacher was released from prison today, after serving just 30 days for raping a student. Stacey Rambold was convicted of assaulting a 14-year-old girl who later committed suicide. A state judge sentenced him in August, and appeared to suggest that the girl was partly to blame for the rape. Prosecutors are appealing for a longer sentence.

In economic news, first-time jobless claims fell last week, coming close to their lowest levels in six years. That gave a boost to Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 55 points to close at 15,328. The Nasdaq rose 26 points to close at 3,787.