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WORLD NEWS - Oct 20th, 2012


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Here is the news in special English. I’m Laura Bowman in Washington.

A car bomb exploded in Beirut Friday while people traveled home from work. The explosion killed eight people including Lebanon’s police intelligence chief. About 80 people were wounded. The bomb exploded near the office of the Christian Phalange Party headquarters. The group is critical of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Lebanese media said that the police chief was the target of the bomb. He led the investigation showed that Syria and Hezbollah were involved in the killing of Lebanon’s former Prime Minister. No one has claimed responsibility for the explosion. Some Lebanese officials are blaming Syria’s president for what they are calling a plan to kill the chief of police.

The Special Diplomat to Syria from the United Nations and the Arab League arrived in Damascus Friday for talks with Syrian officials. Lakhdar Brahimi hopes to secure a temporary ceasefire between Syrian forces and rebel groups. He will meet with Syria’s Foreign Minister Saturday morning. He is also expected to meet with President Bashar al-Assad on his trip. Mr. Brahimi wants a ceasefire during the four-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha which begins October 26th. Turkey’s Foreign Minister has also urged Syrian forces and rebel groups to observe a ceasefire. A ceasefire agreement negotiated in April collapsed after a few days. Each side blamed the other for the failure.

British doctors treating a Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban say she was able to stand with help for the first time. The doctors also say 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai is able to write. However, the medical director of the hospital said Friday there are still concerns that she will have an infection from a bullet wound in her head. He said she is communicating very freely and writing. But she is unable to speak because of a tube in her throat. A spokesman for the hospital told British Television Station ITV the bullet damaged her brain, but it did not harm her brain’s ability to work. Malala Yousafzai is internationally-known for supporting education for girls and for documenting Taliban abuses in the area near her home in Swat Valley. Pakistani police have arrested several suspects in the shooting.

Yemeni officials say suspected militants killed at least 13 soldiers in a suicide attack on an army base in Southern Yemen Friday. Officials say the militants drove a vehicle close to the entrance of the base and exploded it. The attack took place near a town in Abyan Province. Al-Qaeda took control of parts of Southern Yemen last year during a rebellion that ousted that country’s president. Yemen’s army launched an offensive earlier this year to take back areas seized by the militants.

A bomb explosion in Northern Afghanistan destroyed a small bus and killed at least 19 people. The bus passengers were traveling to a marriage celebration. Officials say at least 18 others were wounded in the explosion which happened in the Dawlat Abad area of Balkh Province. Police say most of the passengers were women and children.

You are listening to the news in VOA Special English.

In Japan, the commander of American forces there has ordered a nationwide curfew for all military troops in the country. The curfew is an answer to the suspected rape of a Japanese woman by two American soldiers early Tuesday. After apologizing to the woman and the people of Okinawa for the incident, a US lieutenant general announced the curfew to the troops. The curfew will apply to service members, but not to civilians or American non-government workers. The soldiers were arrested on Thursday.

In Japan, the Nippon Foundation says it is sending $3million in food and medical aid to ethnic groups in Burma. Some of the groups are still involved in armed conflict with the Burmese government. The aid group made the announcement Thursday in Tokyo after meeting with representatives from the United Nationalities Federal Council, or UNFC. The UNFC is a coalition of Burmese ethnic groups that is seeking peace talks with the government. Burma does not recognize the UNFC. However, the Nippon Foundation says the Burmese government sees the aid as a way of speeding up the peace process.

China and the Philippines are taking new steps to ease tensions over a territorial dispute in the South China Sea. Chinese vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying met with Philippine officials Friday in Manila. He brought a message form Chinese President Hu Jintao to Philippine President Benigno Aquino expressing a desire for improved relations. The meeting was the first since April when the Philippines said Chinese ships were taking fish from Philippines’ territorial waters. China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei claim all or parts of the South China Sea.

In India, the top court has granted bail to a reporter arrested in an attack on the car of an Israeli diplomat earlier this year. The Supreme Court on Friday also ordered Said Muhammad Kazni to surrender his passport to the court. Mr. Kosmi worked for an Iranian news agency. He is the only person arrested in connection with the February bomb attack in New Delhi. The Israeli diplomat’s wife, the car’s driver and two people were wounded in the blast. Mr. Kasmi’s lawyer has said his client is not an international terrorist and that he is innocent. The attack was carried out on February 13th, the same day as an attempted bomb attack on an Israeli diplomat in Georgia. Israel has linked Iran to the two incidents as well as to attempted attacks on Israeli targets in Thailand, Azerbaijan and else where. Iran has denied involvement.

The social media Website Twitter has agreed to remove anti-Semitic messages written in France. The media company acted after the Union of French Jewish students threatened legal action. A lawyer for the French students said Friday that the group will provide Twitter with a list of the posts or twits it wants removed. The Jewish students argued that the messages were his speech. On Thursday, Twitter agreed to block offensive messages in Germany posted by a neo-Nazi group that had been banned by police. Earlier this year, Twitter announced it could remove posts on a country-by-country basis. The media rights group Reporters Without Borders said Twitter’s new policy violates freedom of speech.

Briefly, here again is the major news of the hour.

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