VOA news 2019-04-23

This is VOA news. I’m Liz Parker.

Devastating bombings in Sri Lanka killing hundreds has forced the island nation into a state of emergency.

At least 290 people are dead and hundreds of others injured after the blasts, targeting churches and hotels on Easter Sunday.

Sri Lanka Project Director for the International Crisis Group in London Alan Keenan explains why this [has] attack has come as such a shock.

“There was any history of violence of this sort against Christians and certainly not by the Muslim group that the government is claiming is responsible for this. There has been no history of Islamic militants even in Sri Lanka.”

Officials believe seven suicide bombers belonging to the National Thowheeth Jama’ath group carried out the coordinated attacks.

The government said it is investigating whether the group had links to foreign terrorist organizations.

The United States on Monday ended its sanctions waivers for five countries importing Iranian oil. The U.S. hoping to put new pressure on Tehran to curb its military aggression in the Mideast by cutting off its main source of national revenue.

The waivers will end for three U.S. allies – Japan, South Korea and Turkey – as well as China and India.

The U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, has left for another regional trip that will also take him to Qatar for a new round of negotiations with the Taliban. The political end to the Afghan war is the goal of this peace process.

The United States is offering a reward of up to $10 million for information that disrupts the finances of Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant organization.

The U.S. State Department announced the award Monday.

This is VOA news.

Tensions are rising between Sudan’s military and protesters who have held a weeks-long sit-in around army headquarters in Khartoum. As Naba Mohiedeen reports, the protesters have vowed to stay until the country returns to civilian rule.

Sudan’s transitional military council on Monday warned protesters it plans to clear the streets around the Defense Ministry.

Meanwhile, protesters called for an even bigger demonstration raising the risk of confrontation.

After weekend talks with protest leaders broke down, the military council issued a statement calling for barricades around the sit-in, which started April 6, to be immediately removed.

The group leading the protest, the Sudanese Professionals’ Association, suspended talks with the military Sunday because it refused the SPA’s demand to promptly hand power to a civilian council.

Naba Mohiedeen, for VOA news, Khartoum.

The military council, which replaced ousted former President Omar al-Bashir on April 11, is under pressure to return to civilian rule after announcing a two-year transition period.

After extensive talks between his country and his Pakistani counterpart, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani says Tehran and Islamabad have agreed to form a joint new force to fight terrorism on their common borders.

Rouhani and Prime Minister Imran Khan [said] held a news conference. Groups operating within Pakistan’s and Iran’s Baluchistan provinces which share a long border seek independence from both countries.

Here is Prime Minister khan. “We have come to the conclusion that we will not allow any militant groups to operate from our soil. We have this government, for the first time in Pakistan, is dismantling any militant group in our country.”

Khan’s visit to Tehran comes just days after a group of militants crossed the border from Iran and carried out a deadly attack against Pakistan armed forces and southwestern Baluchistan province, killing 14.

President Trump sued Monday to block a congressional panel from subpoenaing his personal and business records from the accounting firm that for years has handled his financial affairs.

Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings, who chairs the House of Representatives Oversight Committee, is seeking eight years of Trump information from Mazars USA. But the Trump Organization said in the suit the subpoena is “invalid and unenforceable because it has no legitimate legislative purpose.”

A strong earthquake in northern Philippines Monday left several people dead, trapping others in buildings and damaging the capital’s secondary airport.

I’m Liz Parker, VOA news.

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