BBC News with Marion Marshall.
Police in Pakistan say more than 60 people have been killed and 200 others injured in a bomb attack in a bazaar in the southwestern city of Quetta. Most of the victims were members of Pakistan’s Shiite minority. Orla Guerin reports.
Once again the Shiites of Quetta have been targeted in a devastating bombing in spite of promises by the government to improve their security. It’s the second major attack on the beleaguered minority community this year. The blast was so powerful it was felt across a wide area. Local sources say ambulances were initially prevented from reaching the scene because of protest by Shiites. Some reports claim this may have increased the death toll.
The Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said Afghan security forces will not be allowed to call for air strikes in residential areas. The announcement comes days after ten civilians were killed in an air raid in Kunar province in eastern Afghanistan. Here is our defense correspondent Caroline Wyatt.
President Karzai’s move takes away an important weapon in Afghan forces’ armory. American and British air strikes were used at the very start of Operation Enduring Freedom to dislodge the Taliban from power in Afghanistan in 2001. Later on as more U.S. and British ground forces were sent as part of a wider Nato mission, troops under attack called in air strikes more frequently, several times a day across the country to help them in battles against insurgents. But the number of Afghan civilians including children killed in air strikes has made them a deeply divisive weapon just as likely to drive villagers to support the insurgents.
The United Nations says that serious human rights abuses are continuing in Burma despite progress towards democracy under the military-backed government. At the end of a five-day visit, the UN special rapporteur Tomas Ojea Quintana said the army was continuing to use arbitrary arrest and torture in the conflict with Kachin rebels.
A former Brazilian environment minister Marina Silva has launched a new political party called Sustainability Network ahead of next year’s presidential elections. In the speech to hundreds of supporters in Brasilia, Ms. Silva stressed the new party’s green credentials and ruled out taking either a pro or anti government stance. Marina Silva won nearly 20 million votes when she ran for president three years ago. Eric Camera reports.
Since a surprising success in 2010 as a green party’s presidential candidate, Marina Silva has watched her political influence grow steadily. She left the party a year later as she had done before with former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s PT Workers Party and snubbed all other invitations. Yet she didn’t disappear from the public eye. In 2012, Marina Silva was personally invited as the only Brazilian to carry the Olympic flag at the opening of the London Olympics raising eyebrows within the Brazilian government.
World News from the BBC
An uncle of the Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorious says there is no substance to allegations that his nephew shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in a premeditated killing on Thursday. Arnold Pistorious said the South African prosecutors own forensic evidence refuted the possibility of a premeditated murder. He added that his nephew was numb with shock. Meanwhile, South African state television has broadcast a reality TV show featuring Reeva Steenkamp. The producers of the show said the episode was dedicated to her memory.
The Vatican says the conclave of cardinals to choose a successor to Pope Benedict could be brought forward to ensure that the new pontiff is installed before Easter, the most important date in the Christian calendar. Existing rules require a waiting period of at least 15 days after the papacy becomes vacant but the Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said this arrangement is open to reinterpretation.
Tens of thousands of people in Portugal have taken part in this year’s first major protests against the government’s economic policy. The demonstration in several towns and cities across the country was organized by Portugal’s largest trade union federation which has opposed to the harsh austerity measures imposed as part of the country’s Euro Zone bailout. This protester in the capital Lisbon explained why he was so angry at the government.
“They have been elected but that doesn’t mean they can do anything they want and they are going far beyond their powers and far beyond what’s here.”
Preliminary figures indicate Portugal’s economy shrank by more than 3% last year.
In a surprise decision by the judges of the Berlin Film Festival, a young amateur from Bosnia-Herzegovina has won the Best Actor Award. Nazif Mujic, an unemployed Bosnian Roma played himself in the film An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker. The film also won the runner-up award to the main Golden Bear prize claimed as widely expected by the Romania film Child’s Pose.