Kabul, Sep 6 (AP/UNB) — Twin bombings at a wrestling training center in a Shiite.
neighborhood of Afghanistan's capital on Wednesday killed at least 20 people, including two reporters, and wounded 70, Afghan officials said.
Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish said a suicide bomber struck at the center and then a car bomb went off nearby.
Sediqullah Tawhidi, a senior member of the Afghan journalists federation, said a reporter and a cameraman working for Tolo TV were among those killed, and that another local TV reporter was wounded.
No one immediately claimed the attacks, but they bore the hallmarks of the country's Islamic State affiliate, which has carried out a wave of deadly bombings against minority Shiites. The Sunni extremists of IS view Shiites as apostates deserving of death.
Gen. Daud Amin, the Kabul police chief, said at least seven police were among those wounded in the car bomb explosion.
Elsewhere in Afghanistan, a roadside bomb killed a district police chief and another policeman in the northern Badghis province, according to Jamshid Shahabi, spokesman for the provincial governor.
No one claimed the attack, but Shahabi said it was likely carried out by the Taliban, who are active in the province and frequently target security forces and government officials.
Afghan forces have struggled to combat both the Taliban and IS since the U.S. and NATO formally ended their combat mission in 2014.
Washington, Sep 6 (AP/UNB) — Diplomats urged Venezuela on Wednesday to allow humanitarian aid into the country to alleviate an economic crisis that has caused hundreds of thousands of desperate people to flee the crumbling oil state.
At a special meeting of the Organization of American States, member nations described the exodus of Venezuelans to neighboring countries as a migrant crisis "without precedent" in the Western Hemisphere.
Delegates from Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Peru and the United States called on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to accept food and medical supplies for his country's most vulnerable people and allow international aid groups to work in the country. Maduro has rejected multiple offers made by groups to deliver aid, painting it as part of a plan to destabilize his socialist government.
"The situation in Venezuela is not a natural disaster, but is entirely man made," said Alexis Ludwig, the deputy U.S. representative to the OAS. "President Maduro should unconditionally allow international food and medical assistance to reach the neediest in Venezuela."
According to the United Nations, more than 1.6 million Venezuelans have left their homeland since 2015 to escape severe shortages of food and medicine and inflation that the IMF estimates will reach 1 million percent this year. South American countries have said that outflow is putting a strain on their social services and that violence has broken out in some communities between Venezuelan migrants and residents who blame them for unemployment and crime.
OAS secretary general Luis Almagro called on Latin American countries to "share the burden" posed by Venezuelan immigration. He said they should grant legal status to Venezuelan migrants while working to integrate them socially and economically.
The regional group also recommended that member nations take measures aimed at preventing xenophobic attacks.
Member nations urged Venezuela to provide passports and other travel documents to Venezuelan citizens who want to leave. Thousands of Venezuelan migrants are currently travelling throughout South America without passports and keeping track of them has become difficult for authorities.
A Venezuelan diplomat at the meeting ignored these requests, saying that the discussion on Venezuela's migrant crisis is part of a U.S.-led plot to justify an invasion of his country.
"They want to depict us as a failed state, that has become a problem for the region," said Samuel Moncada, the Venezuelan ambassador to the OAS. "The OAS has become a forum of aggression toward Venezuela."
Venezuela said in April that it was quitting the OAS, but the process could take up to two years.
In June, OAS members approved a resolution saying that Maduro's re-election was plagued by irregularities and that it had broken with Venezuela's constitutional order.
United Nations, Sep 6 (AP/UNB) — Iran's foreign minister sharply criticized President Donald Trump Wednesday for abusing the U.S. presidency of the Security Council this month by holding a meeting on Iran's international activities during the annual gathering of world leaders at the U.N. in late September.
Mohammad Javad Zarif was responding in a tweet to U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley's announcement Tuesday that Trump will chair a meeting to address "violations of international law and general instability Iran sows throughout the entire Middle East region."
She accused Iran of supporting terrorism and destabilizing activities in Lebanon, Yemen and Syria.
Zarif tweeted that Trump "plans to abuse presidency of SC to divert a session — item devoted to Palestine for 70 yrs — to blame Iran for horrors US & clients have unleashed across M.E. (Middle East)."
He also accused Trump of violating a 2015 U.N. Security Council resolution, number 2231, that endorsed the Iran nuclear deal. The president withdrew the United States from the nuclear accord between Iran and six major powers in May.
Zarif said "@realDonaldTrump is violating it & bullying others to do same."
Under Security Council rules, Iran can speak at the Sept. 26 meeting that Trump will chair, but Zarif and Iran's U.N. Mission did not indicate whether it would participate. Iran's President Hassan Rouhani is scheduled to attend the General Assembly's ministerial session, along with Zarif.
The mission said in a press release that despite the fact that Iran is in compliance with all its nuclear obligations under the 2015 deal according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, "the U.S. not only unilaterally and unlawfully withdrew from the accord, but also now openly invites all U.N. member states to either violate or ignore resolution 2231 or face punishment."
The mission called Israel's occupation of Palestine "the main cause of all conflicts in the Middle East" and accused the U.S., Israel's most important supporter, of rendering the Security Council "ineffective in discharging its duty to end the illegal occupation."
Iran called the Sept. 26 council meeting "a further attempt by the U.S. to divert attention away from Israeli brutalities and to remove the issue from the council agenda; however, such actions are doomed to fail."
Answering U.S. criticism of "the so-called destabilizing role of Iran in the region," the Iranian mission called the United States "a menace to Middle Eastern security with its destabilizing, unilateralist policies and military interventions based on false claims."
It pointed to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, its presence in Afghanistan, "the illegal occupation" of nearly one-third of Syria, and its part in the Saudi-led coalition fighting Iranian-backed Houthi Shiite rebels in Yemen, which has been accused of killing civilians.
The mission noted that Iran was in "the forefront" of defeating the Islamic State extremist group which it claimed was created and supported by the U.S. and its regional allies.
Rio De Janeiro, Sep 6 (AP/UNB)— Brazil's federal police filed a report Wednesday seeking to have corruption charges brought against unpopular President Michel Temer, which could lead to his suspension from office.
The report said an investigation had obtained evidence that Temer pocketed about $300,000 in bribes from construction giant Odebrecht, which is at the heart of a regional corruption scandal.
Temer has survived two previous attempts to charge him. He has already denied any wrongdoing in the case.
Brazil's top court said it received the report, which will be sent to Attorney General Raquel Dodge, who will decide whether Temer should be charged for the third time since taking office in 2016.
Dodge was appointed by Temer. The two previous charges were made by one of her adversaries, former Attorney General Rodrigo Janot.
If Dodge chooses to proceed, two-thirds of the Chamber of Deputies would have to vote to suspend Temer and put him on trial. The body twice rejected previous charges against him.
Temer's term ends Dec. 31, filling the term of Dilma Rousseff, who was impeached for alleged mishandling of federal finances.
The popularity rating for Temer has been in the single digits since last year and he decided against seeking a new term in October's national elections.
On Tuesday, Brazilian prosecutors asked a judge to approve charges against conservative presidential candidate Geraldo Alckmin. They accuse the former governor of Sao Paulo state of receiving illegal campaign contributions from Odebrecht amounting to $2.5 million in his 2014 election.
Alckmin, who has struggled in the polls, denies any wrongdoing. His lawyers called the accusation "noise from a prosecutor" before the presidential election.
Investigators at Sao Paulo state prosecutors' office said Alckmin's political rights should be suspended, but that would be unlikely to happen before the elections.
The same prosecutors' office is also seeking charges against another likely presidential candidate, Fernando Haddad of the Workers' Party.
Haddad is expected to take over as the party's presidential candidate for jailed former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who was barred from running by Brazil's top electoral court Saturday.
Da Silva has held a strong lead in opinion polls despite his corruption and money laundering conviction. He denies any wrongdoing.
Haddad, who is currently the Workers' party vice presidential candidate, said during a campaign event in Sao Paulo that the party will appeal electoral court's decision to Brazil's Supreme Court. The party has only until Tuesday to replace da Silva as its presidential candidate.
United Nations, Sep 6 (AP/UNB) — The United States warned the Security Council on Wednesday that Nicaragua is heading down the path that led to conflict in Syria and a crisis in Venezuela that has spilled into the region — but Russia, China and Bolivia said Nicaragua doesn't pose an international threat and the U.N. should butt out.
The sharp exchanges took place at the first Security Council meeting called by U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, the current council president, to address what the U.N. says is the government's violent repression of student and opposition protests that have killed over 300 people since mid-April and led thousands to flee the country.
"With each passing day Nicaragua travels further down a familiar path. It is a path that Syria has taken. It is a path that Venezuela has taken," Haley said.
She said Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega and Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro "are cut from the same corrupt cloth ... And they are both dictators who live in fear of their own people."
But she said there is still an opportunity for Nicaragua's government "to prevent tyranny from threatening peace and security" by responding to the people's demands for freedom, an end to "dictatorship," and the release of arbitrarily jailed protesters.
Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia countered that the "subversive policies of the United States against Nicaragua have a long history" and the meeting —which Moscow "categorically objects to" — represented "a glaring and grim example of destructive foreign intervention."
He warned that "following today's discussion, polarization in Nicaragua will only worsen."
In Nicaragua, Ortega responded to Haley's comments in a speech to a pro-government march in Managua.
"What should we say to the United States?" the Nicaraguan president said. "We'll tell them that if they want to help the Nicaraguan people, if they want to contribute to peace, the best thing they can do and should do is not meddle in Nicaragua, respect Nicaragua."
The popular protests that began in mid-April were triggered by cuts to the social security system. Ortega reversed the cuts, but demonstrations quickly expanded and turned into a call for him to step down. He has refused to give up power before elections scheduled for 2021.
A report released last Wednesday by the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights on four months of unrest in the country described government repression that stretched from the streets to courtrooms, where some protesters face terrorism charges.
The human rights office called on the government to immediately halt the persecution of protesters and disarm the masked civilians who have been responsible for many of the killings and arbitrary detentions. It also documented cases of torture and excessive force.
Two days later, the government expelled the U.N. human rights team in the country.
Gonzalo Koncke, chief of staff to the secretary-general of the Organization of American States, told the council that Nicaragua "is at a critical juncture and the government must take critical measures" to re-establish democracy in the country.
The government must quickly hold "free, just, democratic and transparent elections" and start a dialogue with all parties that leads to agreements.
If democracy is not restored, Koncke warned, Nicaragua "may go the way of other countries in the region who have fallen in the arms of dictators."
Civil society leader Felix Maradiaga, a former secretary general of Nicaragua's Ministry of Defense who said he faces constant death threats, told the council he came to convey the urgency of the situation in the country that threatens peace and security in the region.
"Every day we see a climate of terror and indiscriminate persecution," he said, citing the rising number of political prisoners, armed and masked people bursting into homes, and sexual attacks.
"For more than a decade, the Daniel Ortega regime has been benefiting from the fact that it is off the international agenda, off the international radar," Maradiaga said. "So we are seeing the danger of Nicaragua spinning out of control in a volatile region of the world."
Nicaragua needs the attention of the United Nations, he said, "to ensure there is peace and security before it's too late." And he urged the U.N.'s most powerful body to adopt a legally binding resolution, assign resources and establish a system to monitor what's happening in the country and support the restoration of the rule of law.
Nicaragua's Foreign Minister Denis Moncada Colindres made no mention of the unrest or elections, stressing instead that "in Nicaragua we love peace, we strengthen our security and we promote and defend human rights in a holistic way."
"There is consensus in this council Nicaragua does not represent a threat to international peace and security," he said.