VOA news: Monday, November 18th, 2013
From Washington, this is VOA news. Relief on the way to Philippine typhoon survivors. General strike hits Libya’s capital over militia violence. I’m Ray Kouguell reporting from Washington.
Relief supplies are getting to a larger number of survivors in the typhoon-stricken central Philippines, but there are still challenges.
Simone Orendain reports from Manila.
Aid workers say there are visible signs that food and water are getting to people in need in the hardest-hit parts of the central provinces. Sunday, the government said it delivered about 115,000 food packages the previous day.
Many of the packages filled with rice and canned goods have been going to Tacloban, the hard-hit city of 220,000, which has so far posted the most deaths.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino went to a relief goods warehouse in Tacloban Sunday and reassured victims. He says, the government can rise up. There are so many countries helping, the Philippines will be able to recover.
Simone Orendain, for VOA news, Manila.
The Philippine government says the typhoon killed almost 3,800 people and left about 1,200 others missing.
Syrian monitors say rebels bombed a government building near Damascus Sunday, killing 31 people.
The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the building was destroyed. And a spokesman says 3 generals along with a brigadier general are among the dead.
Across Iraq, several bomb attacks have left as many as 20 people dead and more than 70 wounded.
The deadliest occurring Sunday struck in Baghdad, where a wave of evening bombings targeted civilians in Sunni and Shiite neighborhoods of the capital.
Most businesses and schools in Libya’s capital, Tripoli, are closed after residents called for a strike to protest recent deadly violence by militias there.
Edward Yeranian has details.
Libyan government television broadcast a warning Sunday to militiamen to put down their arms and to leave the country’s security to the state after more than 40 demonstrators were killed by militiamen on Friday.
The capital was largely quiet Sunday, which is normally a day of work in the Arab world, after a 3-day general strike was called to protest Friday’s shootings.
The Libyan state news agency reported the Misrata militiamen had abandoned their headquarters in the southern Tripoli district of Garghour.
Edward Yeranian, for VOA news, Cairo.
The Libyan National Congress, the interim parliament, also moved to dissolve a pro-government militia known as Revolutionary Operations Bureau, which has been a source of turmoil in the capital.
France’s President Francois Hollande says his government will maintain sanctions and pressure against Iran until he is sure that it’s renounced a suspected nuclear weapons program.
Mr. Hollande made the pledge to Israeli leaders after arriving in Israel Sunday at the start of a 3-day visit.
A Russian passenger airliner crashed while trying to land in the city of Kazan, killing all 50 people on board.
Russia’s Emergencies Ministry says the Tatarstan Airlines flight for Moscow was making a 2nd try to land Sunday and exploded when it hit the runway, killing 44 passengers and 6 crew members.
There are still no indications of what may have caused the Boeing 737 to crash in Kazan, 720 kilometers east of Moscow.
Pakistan’s government will be putting former military ruler Pervez Musharraf on trial for treason, which is punishable by death or life imprisonment.
The charges stem from November 2007 when the former President suspended the constitution and imposed a state of emergency in an attempt to prolong his rule.
Ayaz Gul has more.
The move had effectively suspended and detained senior judges, including the chief justice of the Supreme Court, although they were restored months later after Musharraf stepped down from power.
Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan told reporters in Islamabad that on the instruction of the Supreme Court, a special commission investigated actions of the former military ruler and its findings have prompted the government to launch the legal process.
He cited Article 6 of the country’s constitution that empowers the federal government alone to try anyone for subverting the fundamental law.
Ayaz Gul, for VOA news, Islamabad.
Nobel Prize winning British author Doris Lessing has died at the age of 94 in London.
Lessing became the oldest winner of the Nobel Prize in 2007, just short of her 88th birthday.
I’m Ray Kouguell, VOA news. More on our website at voanews.com.
VOA news: Tuesday, November 19th, 2013
From Washington, this is VOA news. Typhoon aid reaches remote areas of the central Philippines. Egypt responds to Syria polio outbreak. I’m Ray Kouguell reporting from Washington.
International aid is starting to get to the remote areas of the central Philippines 10 days after the region was devastated by Typhoon Haiyan.
The United Nations humanitarian affairs office says about 13 million people are affected.
Simone Orendain reports on the recovery effort.
The U.N. cites three major infrastructure concerns that have hampered relief and recovery operations: the lack of power, poor communication and impassable roads compounded by little access to fuel.
According to the latest figures from the Civil Defense office, more than a dozen provinces are still experiencing some form of power outage, with Leyte and Samar in the east remaining completely dark.
Cellular service is mostly restored in 13 provinces but the three eastern-most provinces of Samar, Leyte and Biliran only have about 50 percent or less of service.
Simone Orendain, for VOA news, Manila.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino continues to tour the typhoon-battered center of the country and vows to stay there until he is satisfied with how the aid efforts are progressing.
The United Nations special envoy to North Korea travels to China on Tuesday. It’s all part of a larger trip to Asia as regional powers step up efforts to restart talks on ending Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programs.
VOA’s Bill Ide has details.
When Glyn Davies arrives in Beijing, it will be the second time he has met with China’s top negotiator, Wu Dawei, in the short space of less than a month.
Wu has been traveling between Pyongyang and Washington in recent weeks. Japan, South Korea and the United States have also held trilateral talks in Washington.
The U.S. State Department was hesitant to make any predictions about the talks when Davies’ travel plans were released last week, but did add that “every discussion is an opportunity.”
North Korea pulled out of the six-party talks in 2009 and has called for their resumption with no preconditions.
Bill Ide, Beijing.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has the right to voice his objection to a potential nuclear deal with Iran, but that his concerns are unfounded.
Mr. Netanyahu calls the deal bad for Israel and a gift to Iran.
Secretary Kerry says he has “great respect” for the Israeli leader’s fear that the deal will leave his country vulnerable, but stresses the U.S. is deeply committed to Israel’s security.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin says there is a “real chance” to resolve the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program.
The Kremlin says Mr. Putin delivered the statement in a telephone conversation with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who welcomed Russia’s efforts in the negotiations.
Russia is one of six nations, including the United States, set to take part in another round of talks with Iran in Geneva Wednesday French President François Hollande is urging Israel and the Palestinians to finally make peace, saying Jerusalem must be the capital of both Israel and a Palestinian state.
Mr. Hollande made the comments while addressing Israel’s parliament Monday, urging both sides to make gestures that could further advance the peace process.
Egypt is joining other countries in the Middle East in ramping up vaccinations against polio. The move comes as an outbreak in Syria threatens a comeback of the disease.
VOA’s Elizabeth Arrott has more at our Middle East bureau in Cairo.
Egypt has begun a new round of vaccinations against polio, one of several national efforts in the Middle East after the crippling disease recently resurfaced in war-torn Syria.
UNICEF representative Philippe Duamelle in Cairo notes the virus “needs no visa to cross borders.”
“This is, this is terrible news for, for everyone.”
Across Cairo, anxious parents are bringing their children to Health Ministry clinics, as the Syria outbreak brought Egypt’s immunization campaign new urgency.
Elizabeth Arrott, VOA news, Cairo.
Russian investigators are trying to determine why a passenger airliner crashed while trying to land in the city of Kazan, 720 kilometers east of Moscow, killing all 50 people aboard.
Investigators have found both black boxes, which record the plane’s flight data and the crew’s conversations.
The U.S. space agency launched a new exploratory mission to Mars, hoping to learn more about the red planet’s mysterious atmosphere and climate.
If all goes well, the Maven spacecraft, carrying eight science instruments, will reach Mars in 10 months and then settle into an orbit around the planet.
NASA says it’s the first spacecraft designed to explore the upper Martian atmosphere.
I’m Ray Kouguell, VOA news. More at voanews.com.
VOA news: Wednesday, November 20th, 2013
From Washington, this is VOA news. Iran appeals for understanding before nuclear talks. Food aid needed for typhoon survivors in the Philippines. I’m Ray Kouguell reporting from Washington.
A senior U.S. lawmaker says Congress will not vote on new economic sanctions against Iran while international negotiations aimed at curbing Tehran’s nuclear program continue.
U.S. Senator Bob Corker spoke Tuesday shortly after a White House meeting with key Senate leaders. In that meeting, President Obama asked that any new sanctions be delayed while nuclear talks set to resume Wednesday continue in Geneva.
Iran’s foreign minister issued an Internet video appealing viewers to understand Iran’s insistence on a right to enrich uranium and portraying the country as a champion of developing nations that want to stand up to world powers.
VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
With the mood set by soothing music, Zarif started with some rhetorical questions.
“What is dignity? What is respect? Are they negotiable? Is there a price tag?”
Much of the 5-minute video is in that vein, with Zarif claiming that by insisting on what it considers its right to enrich uranium, Iran is only asking for the respect and dignity all other countries have.
He portrays Iran as a champion of the downtrodden, saying it standing up to “tyranny” and “demanding respect.” He says Iran is pursuing nuclear energy to be able to determine its own destiny.
Al Pessin, VOA news, Geneva.
At least 23 people were killed and more than 140 wounded by 2 bomb blasts near the Iranian embassy in Beirut. An Iranian diplomat was among the dead.
VOA’s Elizabeth Arrott has details.
It was a scene of devastation in south Beirut when 2 explosions left victims lying shattered on the ground, and the area in and around the Iranian embassy blackened by the blasts.
Lebanese authorities say a suicide bomber and a car bomb were the source of the destruction in the Bir Hassan neighborhood. Lebanon’s Health Minister Ali Hassan Khalil called it a terrorist attack.
An al-Qaeda-linked group called the Abdullah Azzam Brigades claimed responsibility for the bombings and threatened further attacks unless Iran pulled its forces out of Syria.
Tehran is the major regional backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a member of the Alawaite sect derived from Shiite Islam.
Elizabeth Arrott, Cairo.
The Afghan government says the United States has agreed to not let its forces raid and search the homes of ordinary Afghans under a proposed security agreement.
Searches of Afghan homes by U.S. forces had emerged as a sticking point in negotiations and threatened to derail the Bilateral Security Agreement, which will govern the presence of forces in Afghanistan after most foreign troops leave next year.
Spain’s National Court ordered arrest warrants for former Chinese President Jiang Zemin and 4 other officials on suspicion of involvement in alleged genocide in Tibet.
The plaintiff that provided the document is the Tibet Support Committee, a Spanish group that advocates for the rights of Tibetans in China.
The United Nations says it has yet to reach almost a quarter of those in need of emergency food aid 11 days after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the central Philippines.
The World Food Program says it’s reached 1.9 million people out of the estimated 2.5 million Filipinos in need of assistance.
WFP executive director Ertharin Cousin says her agency faces several logistical challenges in reaching the remote areas.
“We are working to continue to partner with both the government and the NGO community, the Red Cross and both national and international partners, to ensure that every person that has been impacted by the storm who needs food assistance receives food assistance.”
The Philippine government says the typhoon killed more than 3,900 people and left about 1,200 missing.
More than 20 people were killed Tuesday when Islamist militants attacked a police station in central Somalia.
Militant group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack.
A preliminary investigation found that Sunday’s passenger airliner crash in the central Russian region of Tatarstan, which killed all 50 people aboard, happened after the crew, in a 2nd attempt to land, lost control of the plane after putting it into a steep climb.
The Interstate Aviation Committee says its preliminary conclusions are based on information found from 1 of the plane’s on-board data recorders.
And a new forecast from the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development says global economic growth slowed this year and will not advance as fast as once thought for next year.
I’m Ray Kouguell, VOA news.
VOA news: Thursday, November 21st, 2013
From Washington, this is VOA news. Iran nuclear talks open in Geneva. Afghan tribal leaders to vote on U.S.-Afghan security pact. I’m Ray Kouguell reporting from Washington.
Iranian and international negotiators will continue a key series of meetings today that officials say could lead to the 1st steps toward guaranteeing that Iran’s nuclear program is purely peaceful and toward easing economic sanctions.
VOA’s Al Pessin reports from the meeting site in Geneva.
Wednesday’s 1st meeting of the full group was only 45 minutes long, but officials say that was the plan and bilateral meetings were to continue well into the night.
This is the third time in 5 weeks that negotiators from Iran’s new government and the 6-nation contact group have met.
Last time, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif criticized the U.N. negotiators for changing course, a move widely attributed to French insistence on some key points. But during a stop in Italy on his way here, Zarif expressed optimism for this round.
“I’m sure that, with the necessary political will, we can certainly make progress and even reach an agreement.”
Al Pessin, VOA news, Geneva.
A car bomb targeting an army convoy exploded in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, killing at least 10 soldiers.
The attack occurred Wednesday as the convoy was traveling on a road crossing to the Gaza Strip.
There has been no claim of responsibility.
Indonesia is suspending military and intelligence cooperation with its traditional ally Australia after allegations that Australian spies listened in on the phone calls of senior Indonesian officials.
The move was announced Wednesday in a nationally televised address by President Yudhoyono, whose phone calls were among those reported to be intercepted.
The U.N. says it’s raised just over a third of the money it needs to provide emergency aid in the central Philippines 12 days after the region was devastated by Typhoon Haiyan.
The U.N. is requesting $301-million to cover 6 months of emergency aid, including food, shelter and medical care for the 100s of 1000s who are now displaced by the typhoon.
Secretary of State John Kerry says the United States and Afghanistan have reached agreement on a final text of a bilateral security pact. They will determine the presence of U.S. troops in Afghanistan after 2014.
Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai negotiated the agreement with U.S. officials, but a grand council of more than 2,500 Afghan elders, known as a Loya Jirga, must give its approval.
Sharon Behn has details from Kabul.
Tribal and community elders from around Afghanistan have started arriving in Kabul to decide on the details of a security pact with the United States.
Security is tight around the capital. Over the weekend, a bomb exploded some 500 meters from the site of the gathering, a stark reminder of the militant threat in the country.
Such concerns over security, as well as Afghan suspicions of neighbors Pakistan and Iran, have lawmakers backing the security agreement.
President Hamid Karzai has negotiated a draft agreement with U.S. officials. But the tribal assembly, or Loya Jirga, must give its approval before the document goes to Parliament for a vote.
Sharon Behn, VOA news, Kabul.
Nigerian lawmakers have approved a 6-month extension of the state of emergency in areas where troops are fighting Islamist militants.
President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in 3 northeastern states last May as part of efforts to defeat the militant group Boko Haram.
President Obama awarded the nation’s highest civilian honor–the Presidential Medal of Freedom–to 16 Americans in a ceremony at the White House.
The award honors those who made outstanding contributions to the security or national interests of the U.S., to world peace or to other significant public or private endeavors.
The recipients this year include former President Bill Clinton, Country music legend Loretta Lynn, women’s rights activist Gloria Steinem and television icon Oprah Winfrey.
Consumer prices are easing in the United States. They have been pushed down by a drop in gasoline prices that motorists are paying at service stations.
Gas prices dropped almost 3 percent in October. That’s because world oil prices declined and U.S. oil production advanced.
I’m Ray Kouguell, VOA news. Details on these and other stories on our website on the Internet at voanews.com.
VOA news: Friday, November 22nd, 2013
From Washington, this is VOA news. Support from Afghanistan’s President for an agreement that could see U.S. forces in Afghanistan through 2024 and perhaps longer. Talks aimed at finalizing an interim deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program are termed very substantial. I’m Jim Stevenson reporting from Washington.
The Afghanistan President says that he supports a bilateral security deal reached with the United States that could see U.S. forces in Afghanistan through 2024 and perhaps longer. But he added that the deal most likely will not be signed until Afghans choose a new President in April.
In an impassioned speech to 2,500 tribal, community and elected leaders, Afghan President Hamid Karzai defended a bilateral security agreement reached with Washington, saying it would benefit Afghanistan in the long run.
Saying he had the support of Afghanistan’s major allies and neighbors except Iran, Mr. Karzai encouraged the assembly, known as the Loya Jirga, to vote for the security pact.
But in what could be a potential sticking point with the United States, Mr. Karzai said if the Jirga approves the document and the Afghan parliament then votes in favor of the deal, the agreement “might be signed” after the April 2014 Presidential elections.
The deal is to take effect January 1st, 2015, and will keep American troops and civilian personnel in Afghanistan for at least another decade, possibly even longer.
A suspected U.S. drone has carried out a rare missile attack outside of Pakistan’s northwestern militant-dominated region, killing among others, a senior fugitive commander of the Afghan insurgency. Local officials have confirmed at least 6 deaths in the attack and there are children among those wounded. The head of the regional ruling party has vowed that his supporters will block NATO supplies Saturday to protest U.S. drones.
Ayaz Gul reports for VOA from Islamabad.
The pre-dawn drone attack in the district of Hangu targeted an Islamic seminary where some members of the Haqqani network of Afghan insurgents were said to be present.
The strike destroyed the facility, called a madrassa in local language, and the video footage on Pakistani TV stations showed the place was littered with shoes and pools of blood.
One of the men killed is identified as Maulvi Ahmad Jan believed to be a senior adviser to Sirajuddin Haqqani, the chief of what U.S. officials describe as the most feared Afghan group battling foreign troops in Afghanistan alongside the Taliban.
The latest strike has outraged federal and provincial authorities.
Ayaz Gul, for VOA news, Islamabad.
International negotiators are representing Iran and world powers and continuing efforts to finalize an interim deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
A spokesman for the European Union’s chief diplomat said Thursday’s 1st round of talks with Iran’s foreign minister were “very substantial.” The remarks came as the negotiators met for a 2nd day in Geneva.
Catherine Ashton’s spokesman said she and Javad Zarif were “getting down to detailed work” in the morning session and were to meet again later.
Ashton is representing a group of 6 world powers that includes the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany. They want an interim deal that calls for Iran to stop some of its enrichment activity and accept more inspections in return for limited sanctions relief.
The President of the Central African Republic says he is in contact with fugitive rebel leader Joseph Kony, and that Kony wants to surrender.
A spokesman for President Michel Djotodia tells VOA that Mr. Djotodia held a phone conversation with Kony, and that Kony said he is ready to put down his arms and come in from the bush.
The spokesman said Mr. Djotodia told political leaders about this development during a meeting Thursday in the capital, Bangui.
With emergency aid now flowing to most of the worst-hit areas of the central Philippines, relief groups say the biggest challenge will be to provide longer-term help to the 1,000,000s affected by Typhoon Haiyan.
It has now been nearly 2 weeks since 1 of the strongest storms ever to hit land wiped out entire villages with its powerful winds and tsunami-like storm surge. Although initial aid flow was slow, basic supplies are now available, for the most part, to get to those who need them.
But groups, such as Catholic Relief Services, as well as the United Nations, are warning the crisis is not over. They say there will be a need for continued generosity in the days and weeks to come.
This is VOA news.
VOA news: Saturday, November 23rd, 2013
From Washington, this is VOA news. U.S. Secretary of State Kerry is to join discussions on Iran’s nuclear program, and now reports are that over 2.5 million have been reached with relief in the Philippines. I’m Vincent Bruce reporting from Washington.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is now heading to Geneva to join meetings seeking to close gaps on a proposed interim deal that would curb Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
One of the issues under discussion is Iran’s insistence that it retain the right to enrich uranium, a process that yields materials both for bombs and civil nuclear power generation.
VOA’s State Department correspondent Scott Stearns has more as Kerry heads to Geneva.
This is a first step to suspend Iran’s nuclear program for perhaps six months to give time for a longer-term agreement [about] to settle questions of enrichment, to settle questions of the plutonium reactor, to settle questions of IAEA inspection, and on the Iranian side, to settle questions of the sanctions against Iranian oil exports and some of the financial restrictions that it’s facing.
VOA’s Scott Stearns.
Iran and six world powers entered a crucial third day of talks Friday in Geneva.
The senior United Nations relief coordinator, Valerie Amos, says that two weeks after Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines, two-and-a-half million people have been reached with basic food assistance, and clean water is available to everyone in Tacloban City. Amos told reporters in New York much more needs to be done, however.
She reports 72 local and 59 foreign medical teams are providing emergency treatment in the affected areas, and that a vaccination campaign to immunize half a million children under five against measles and polio will begin on Monday.
Amos said 40 percent of her original appeal for $301-million for the Philippine has been funded so far.
More details at voanews.com.
The United States paused to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Friday with memorial ceremonies and moments of silence.
In Dallas, Texas,–the southwestern city where Kennedy was assassinated in 1963–church bells chimed as several thousand people observed the solemnity of the exact moment he was shot on Dealey Plaza.
Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough read from some of Kennedy’s speeches, including one where he laid out the role of the United States in world affairs.
“We sometimes chafe at the burden of our obligations, the complexity of our decisions, the agony of our choices. But there is no comfort or security in evasion, no solution in abdications, no relief in irresponsibility.”
Once again, more details at voanews.com.
A dispute over timing is threatening to delay plans for continued U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan, where national assembly of tribal, community and elected leaders is meeting to discuss a new security pact.
A spokesman for President Hamid Karzai insisted that the pact will be signed only after national elections scheduled for April when Afghans will choose a new president.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki speaking with VOA’s Afghan Service Friday said an agreement needs to be signed this year–a timetable already agreed upon.
“This was a timeline that was agreed to by both sides. It’s a plan that we’ve been working on both sides. We’ve been in touch on the ground. There have been, even as we look to broadly Afghan leadership, there have been many Afghan presidential candidates who have come out publicly in support of the BSA. So, there should be no secret and no surprise. We have made clear what our desire is in terms of the timeline, but that’s been our committed timeline for some time now.”
The United States says North Korea has acknowledged that it is holding another American citizen.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Friday North Korea told the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang about the detention of the man who has not been identified. The Swedish Embassy represents U.S. interests in the country because Washington and Pyongyang have no diplomatic ties.
At least 35 people have been killed in the explosion of an oil pipeline in eastern China. About 165 others were injured. Authorities in Latvia say the death toll from the collapse of a supermarket’s roof has climbed to 47, including three firefighters. Authorities say 35 people were injured.
Visit us at voanews.com 24 hours a day for all of the latest. I’m Vincent Bruce, VOA news, reporting from Washington.
VOA news: Sunday, November 24th, 2013
From Washington, this is VOA news. In the Iran nuclear talks, improvements but no agreement yet, and an agreement in the climate change talks. I’m Vincent Bruce reporting from Washington.
Top diplomats from six countries say they have narrowed differences with Tehran on curbing Iran’s nuclear program, but could not say if they will reach an agreement.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry joined counterparts from Russia, Britain, France, China and Germany in Geneva Saturday in a continued effort to get Tehran to limit its uranium enrichment program. Kerry met separately with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of the meetings.
World powers say Iran’s nuclear program can be used to develop nuclear arms and have imposed sanctions on the oil-rich country. Tehran argues that it is developing nuclear power for energy and other peaceful purposes.
More details at voanews.com.
United Nations negotiators have avoided a last-minute collapse of climate talks in Warsaw and approved a modest agreement that clears the way for a 2015 pact to fight global warming.
After two weeks of negotiations at the U.N. Climate Change Conference, delegates from more than 190 countries Saturday agreed on a deal apportioning targets for carbon emissions cuts between rich and poor nations. The deal also covers funding for countries vulnerable to climate change impacts.
The talks carried over into an extra day and only moved forward after negotiators replaced the word “commitments” in the text with the word “contributions.” China and India said the word change could give them wider latitude when proposing emissions targets.
More details at voanews.com.
In Latvia, the recent death toll for the collapse of the roof of a crowded supermarket in Riga reportedly exceeds 50, including three firefighters.
The state secretary of the Latvian Interior Ministry said Saturday rescuers will resume searching for bodies Sunday morning.
“The decision is to stop the rescue works for now to tomorrow morning because of a technical solution. We are looking for the next technical solution how to safely continue already research corpse, not rescue works, because as mentioned (by) emergency service, the possibility to find live people is almost zero.”
Rescuers stopped working at various times to try and pinpoint mobile phones they could hear ringing under the wreckage.
Police say they have opened a criminal investigation into why the roof fell on shoppers Thursday night with little warning. Another part of the roof caved in hours later, trapping rescue workers.
In Pakistan Saturday, some 10,000 or more people led by Pakistan cricket star-turned-politician Imran Khan protested U.S. drone strikes, blocking a NATO supply route into Afghanistan.
Khan threatened to block supply lines through his region indefinitely if the drone attacks do not end.
Khan said his government cannot stop the drones but they can still stop the NATO stop supply and will.
Saturday’s protest comes just two days after a suspected U.S. drone strike on an Islamic seminary in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa killed at least six people.
Some tension in Afghanistan this weekend over President Hamid Karzai’s announcement that he would delay signing a ten-year security pact with the United States.
VOA’s Sharon Behn has more.
In a direct rebuke to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the head of a 2,500-strong gathering of tribal and community leaders on Saturday said if the assembly approves the so-called Bilateral Security Agreement with the United States, the deal should be signed right away.
Mr. Karzai shocked Washington when, at the opening of the four-day Loya Jirga gathering, said he would not sign the pact until after the April, 2015 presidential elections.
Sibghatullah Mojaddedi, leader of the Jirga and a former president of Afghanistan, reacted strongly.
He says Mr. Karzai does not have the right to make such a comment because all of his demands and wishes were accepted and implemented by the Americans.
Sharon Behn, VOA news, Kabul.
President Karzai is to address the Loya Jirga on Sunday.
The ruling Union for the Republic, headed by Mauritania’s leader Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, is expected to retain power in that nation’s first general election since a military coup five years ago.
While most opposition parties staged a boycott, saying the poll was “a masquerade,” some 1,500 candidates from 74 parties competed for 147 seats in parliament and the leadership of 218 local councils.
For all the latest, visit us at voanews.com 24 hours a day. I’m Vincent Bruce, VOA news, reporting from Washington.
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