Nation & World Briefly 12/27

Bomb kills gov't official in Pakistan

PARACHINAR, Pakistan (AP) - Police say a bomb blast has killed a government official and his five family members in northwest Pakistan near the Afghan border.

Police officer Naeemullah Khan says a bomb planted in the house of Sarbraz Saddiqi in Sadda city of the Kurram tribal region exploded this morning.

He says Saddiqi, his wife and their four children died.

Khan says the blast is in retaliation for the military campaign against the Taliban in the region. There also have been kidnappings of government officials in the area.

Pakistan's army is fighting militants and al-Qaida fighters in their heartland of South Waziristan. Militants are believed to have fled the offensive to neighboring areas, including the Kurram and Orakzi tribal regions.

House and Senate gear up for final health care talks

WASHINGTON (AP) - How many Americans will get subsidized medical coverage - plus who will pay for it - will be front-burner issues when Congress returns next month to complete President Barack Obama's health care remake.

Pocketbook concerns join abortion and whether Uncle Sam should peddle insurance as the top bones of contention for negotiators who must resolve difference between the House and Senate bills.

The negotiations are the last chance for Democrats to shape the legislation to deliver concrete benefits to Americans skeptical that it will help control skyrocketing premiums as it expands coverage to millions more.

Ferry sinks in Philippines; 3 dead

MANILA, Philippines (AP) - A passenger ferry sank in the northern Philippines in a second sea disaster in three days. The bodies of three children were recovered and 22 people were missing.

Search-and-rescue teams rescued 63 passengers and crew of the MV Baleno-9 and were scouring the seas for others still unaccounted for, coast guard officials said.

Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo quoted survivors as saying the ship took in water from the bow ramp, causing it to list before going under near Verde Island off Batangas province, south of Manila, late Saturday.


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