BBC news 2013-09-23

BBC News with David Austin.

Kenyan troops continue to lay siege to the Westgage shopping mall in Nairobi where between 10 and 15 Islamist militants are holding an unknown number of hostages. 68 people are known to have been killed and the Kenyan Red Cross said 49 others were unaccounted for. Mike Wooldridge reports. “To those outside the up market Westgate shopping centre, sporadic gunfire has been the only clue to what has been happening inside the four-storey complex as the standoff between the Islamist militants and elite units of the Kenyan security forces continues. Though in the late afternoon, a police helicopter and another with military camouflage swept low over the shopping centre. This was shortly after President Uhuru Kenyatta speaking at state house had refused to discuss operational aspects of the ongoing attempt to rescue the hostages, many unarmed badly-shaken innocent civilians he called them.”

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel has secured a third term in office with her Conservative party the CDU predicted to win about 42% of the vote in Sunday's federal elections. If confirmed, the results would have exceeded expectations, but it's still likely to fall short of giving Ms Merkel an absolute majority in the Bundesrat. Chris Morris reports from Berlin. “An amazing result for Angela Merkel, currently Germany's and Europe's preeminent politician. It was clear that she would win this election, but no one really predicted that she could get so close to an absolute majority. The final results are not yet in but it may still be that she needs a coalition partner. The obvious solution is a grand coalition with the centre-left Social Democrats. But there are divisions within the SPD about going into coalition again as a junior partner. In 2009 they were punished by the electorate for doing that. Now the same thing has happened to the liberal Free Democrats.”

Police in Pakistan say at least 75 people have been killed in a double suicide-bombing on hundreds of worshippers leaving a Sunday church service in the city of Peshawar. The dead included 34 women and 7 children. A militant group linked to the Pakistani Taliban has said it was responsible. Shahzeb Jillani reports. “It's been described as the deadliest attack on Christians in Pakistan. Police say two bombers targeted Peshawar's historic All Saints Church when hundreds of worshippers were attending Sunday Mass. Angry scenes were witnessed outside the church, where friends and relatives of the victims protested against the government's failure to protect their loved ones. The attack has outraged many Pakistanis. But there's also a sense of helplessness about the government's apparent inability to prevent such atrocities.”

In Iraq, at least 16 people were killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up inside a tent full of Sunni mourners at a funeral in the capital Baghdad. Reports say more than 30 people were wounded in the attack in the suburb of Doura.

World News from the BBC.

The number of people killed last Tuesday during an attack on a village in northeastern Nigeria has risen to at least 142. Environmental officers say they have recovered bodies lying on the road and nearby bushes in the Benisheik area of Borno state. The attack is thought to have been carried out by Boko Haram militants.

Israel has further relaxed the six-year economic blockade of GAZA Strip by allowing extra deliveries of building materials for use by the privates sector. Palestinian officials say they expected 70 extra truck loads each day, still falls far short of the construction materials GAZA needs. GAZA run by the Hamas Islamist movement has struggled with an acute shortage of cements, gravel and steel, because Israel feared they would be used to fortify defenses.

Switzerland has voted overwhelmingly to retain compulsory military service. In the referendum all 23 cantons chose to keep conscription. Imogen Foulkes reports. “It's the third time in 25 years that Switzerland has held a referendum on ending conscription. Each time Swiss voters said no. They like their militia army the way it is. Left-wing groups and some young Swiss men complained it's an expensive waste of time, but the government's argument that a part-time army, in which everyman must serve, is the best solution for a neutral democratic country clearly carried way to its voters.”

Parts of southern China have been brought to a virtual standstill as Typhoon Usagi, one of the most powerful storms the region has seen in the past 30 years, smashes its way inland, felling trees,  power lines and even blowing cars off the road. Official reports say at least 3 people are known to have died after being hit by falling debris. The port of Hong Kong, one of the world's busiest, has been shut down and flight schedules across the region have been thrown into disarray

Those are the latest stories from BBC News.