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Pakistani troops battle Taliban gunmen...Slain hostages hailed as heroes...Philadelphia manhunt

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PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — Officials in northwest Pakistan says the battle against Taliban gunmen inside a military-run school in Peshawar is winding down. Militants stormed the school this morning. At least 126 people have been killed, the overwhelming majority children and teenagers. Local hospitals have been flooded with wounded, as terrified parents search for their children. The Taliban say the attack is revenge for the deaths of Taliban members at the hands of Pakistani authorities.

SYDNEY (AP) — The two Australians killed in a hostage incident in a Sydney cafe are being hailed for their courage following unconfirmed reports that both sacrificed themselves to save their fellow hostages. Tori Johnson was the manager of the Lindt Chocolat Cafe where the 16-hour siege unfolded. The 34-year-old reportedly brought the siege to a head by grabbing the hostage-taker's gun. Katrina Dawson was a mother of three. The 38-year-old lawyer is said to have been shielding a pregnant friend when she was hit.

PENNSBURG, Pa. (AP) — The search continues in the suburbs of Philadelphia for a man suspected of fatally shooting his ex-wife and five of her relatives yesterday. Investigators say they don't know where Bradley Stone is or how he's getting around. The 35-year-old Stone and his ex-wife Nicole had been locked in a court fight over their children's custody since she filed for divorce five years ago.

MOSCOW (AP) — The Russian ruble remains in a tailspin. Battered by sliding oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine, the ruble is more than 60 percent lower today than it was in January. Russia's central bank hiked its key interest rate from 10.5 percent to 17 percent early this morning in a surprise move aimed at bolstering the currency. But the positive effect was short-lived, and the ruble has dropped again.

GENEVA (AP) — The United Nations' top official for dealing with natural disasters says the world is not ready for the extreme weather of the future. Margareta Wahlstrom says with early warning systems now in place, the world is better prepared than it was a decade ago to face calamities like the Indian Ocean tsunami. But she says extreme weather has noticeably increased in recent years, and disasters that go beyond what a country can cope with are now an issue for every country, not just poor ones.

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