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Insurgents storm Afghan bank, take hostages...Pakistan's toll...Lines shrink at US border crossing

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KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) — Suicide bombers have stormed a bank in southern Afghanistan and taken hostages. Afghan officials say the attackers have been firing on security forces who surrounded the building in the capital of Helmand province. At least five people have been killed. The city's main hospital says it's treating more than 20 wounded people.

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — The death toll from yesterday's massacre at military-run school in northwest Pakistan is now 142, after the body of the school's principal was found overnight. Another 121 students and three school staff members were wounded in the attack. Most of the dead are expected to be buried today and funerals have already begun. Prayer vigils are being held across Pakistan.

SYDNEY (AP) — Australia's prime minister says the gunman responsible for the deadly siege in a Sydney cafe had been on the national security agency's watch list five years ago. The agency was watching Man Haron Monis because he had sent a series of offensive letters to the families of Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan. But Prime Minister Tony Abbott says the 50-year-old was dropped from the list for unknown reasons. Abbott also says Monis had a gun license.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy is doing better, and the Federal Reserve may be ready to acknowledge that fact. Analysts are expecting the Fed will drop its promise to keep interest rates low for a "considerable time" when it issues a statement at the conclusion of its latest policy meeting this afternoon. While dropping the language would be viewed as a signal that the Fed is moving closer to an interest rate hike, no immediate change in monetary policy is expected.

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The long lines have disappeared at the nation's busiest border crossing thanks to a makeover of the San Ysidro port of entry. Waits to enter San Diego from Tijuana, Mexico, during the morning rush have dropped from two hours to less than 45 minutes since September. During quieter times, the wait can be less than 10 minutes now. The shorter lines have fueled a 20 percent increase in travelers crossing the border.

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