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Today's top stories
Pakistan's foreign ministry announced this morning that the country launched airstrikes on Iran, killing at least nine people. The strikes come after Iran struck Pakistan this week. The tit-for-tat attacks have raised questions over whether the war between Israel and Hamas is spreading to unexpected places.
The conflict is playing out in an area that straddles Pakistan and Iran called Balochistan, where separatists, militants and smugglers have thrived, according to NPR's Diaa Hadid. While cross-border incursions have taken place here in the past, a columnist from Islamabad tells her that the scale of Iran's attack was "unprecedented," as was the speed and scale of Pakistan's response. Hadid mentions it's unclear if this is related to the Israel-Gaza war. Iran may be concerned because it's been accused of involvement in the current conflict through proxy groups.
Thousands of civilians in Gaza sheltered at Nasser Medical Complex in southern Gaza are evacuating due to nearby Israeli airstrikes and combat. Gaza is also approaching a week with no cell or internet service, making it difficult to distribute aid and get information in and out of the area. In a video released yesterday, Léo Cans, who heads Doctors Without Borders' mission in the area, called the hospital's situation "catastrophic."
NPR's Becky Sullivan is in Tel Aviv and reports "a lot of anger" in Israel over how the war is going. A hostage released in November told the media that she and about 30 others were kept for weeks at Nasser Medical Complex. Israel's military said Tuesday that a Hamas fighter launched munitions from the hospital's grounds, which NPR has not been able to independently verify. Still, Sullivan tells Up First that Israelis are increasingly skeptical of Israel's argument that more military pressure on Hamas in Gaza is needed for a new hostage release.
President Biden invited Congressional leaders to the White House yesterday to discuss his funding request for Ukraine. Republicans are holding up Biden's request for a $110.5 billion package for Ukraine, Israel and other needs. They want a new border policy in exchange for their votes.
Biden is also under pressure from Democratic governors and mayors grappling with an increase in the number of migrants in their states, NPR's Mara Liasson reports. Though Biden says he's willing to make concessions on border policy and a bipartisan group is working on a deal, Liasson says it's unclear whether it's enough, partly because many hard-right Republicans see bipartisan bills as failures.
Maine's Superior Court has put on hold a decision to bar former President Donald Trump from the state's primary. The hold will allow time for the Supreme Court to rule on a similar case in Colorado. Both states removed Trump from their primary ballots based on a reading of a constitutional provision that bars insurrectionists from holding office. Trump appealed Colorado's decision. The Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments on Feb. 8.
Kenneth Smith was convicted in 1988 for a murder-for-hire killing and sentenced to death by lethal injection. In 2022, workers called off his execution just before midnight after trying for an hour to insert intravenous lines. Smith is scheduled to be executed on Jan. 25 — this time by nitrogen gas, a method that's been under scrutiny for safety and human rights concerns.