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  |   Dec. 16, 2012 at 12:00 PM
Support pours in after U.S. school tragedy

NEWTOWN, Conn., Dec. 16 (UPI) -- Officials in Newtown, Conn., say there has been an outpouring of support from at home and around the world for the families of the school shooting victims.

Churches and social agencies in the Connecticut town said their phones began ringing almost immediately after the news of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School broke Friday.

"We've been hearing from people all over the country asking how they can help and what they can do to support he families," said Newtown Savings Bank President John Trentacosta. "This all happened so quickly."

Newton Savings and the United Way established a fund to help the families of the 20 children and six adults who died in the shooting spree. NBC News said a number of other groups followed suit with their own donation campaigns.

Along with money, there has been a steady stream of phone calls and emails from as far away as Asia and Africa. Local residents have been busy providing meals for bereaved families and psychological counseling.

A Lutheran chaplain told NBC he hoped folks would consider spiritual support for the staggered community.

"That's more powerful than anything they can do up close -- including providing food or shelter," said Leo McIlrath of Lutheran Home in Southbury. "We do all that already in this community. We don't need people to put something in a box and send it here. We need to be as of one mind and one heart and one spirit."


Pakistan battles militants after attack

PESHAWAR, Pakistan, Dec. 16 (UPI) -- Pakistani security forces on Sunday killed several Taliban militants believed to be responsible for an attack on an airport, officials said.

A police officer was also killed in the operation in the city of Peshawar, Geo News reported.

Three of the five killed in the operation were slain by security forces, said Inter-Services Public Relations, the media wing of the army. The other two blew themselves up at a residential compound.

The operation came after a group of Taliban members attacked the airport in Peshawar Saturday with rockets and a suicide bomber, Voice of America reported.

Authorities said the attack left four civilians and five militants dead and dozens of others injured.


Wreaths Across America even bigger in 2012

ARLINGTON, Maine, Dec. 16 (UPI) -- About 110,000 wreaths were laid at Virginia's Arlington National Cemetery for the 21st annual Wreaths Across America event, officials said.

Some 20,000 volunteers helped place the 110,000 wreaths throughout the cemetery on Saturday, Stars and Stripes reported.

The tradition was started 21 years ago when a businessman -- a retired Marine -- donated a surplus of Christmas wreaths to the cemetery. Since then, the event has grown, with more wreaths being laid every year.

This year, Merrill Worcester, owner of the Worcester Wreath Co. in Harrington, Maine, presented the program's 1 millionth wreath. It went to Gold Star mother Mary Byers, whose son, Army Capt. Joshua Byers, was killed in Afghanistan in 2003, the newspaper said.

Bryers, who attended the event with her husband, Lloyd, and Army Sgt. Justin Lansford, who was severely wounded by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan in April, placed the 1 millionth wreath on the grave of Vietnam veteran Wilbur Tresvant.


Typhoon Bopha death toll rises to 1,020

MANILA, Philippines, Dec. 16 (UPI) -- The death toll from Typhoon Bopha that devastated southern Philippines reached 1,020 on Sunday, with 844 people still missing, authorities said.

Bopha was the most powerful and destructive storm to hit the Philippines this year, CNN reported.

About 1.2 million families were displaced and $14.8 billion of damage to agriculture, infrastructure and private property, authorities have said.

Officials say they are worried the chances of finding survivors alive decrease with each passing day.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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