Death toll reaches 93 in Pakistan bombings


Multiple bomb attacks in the southwestern city of Quetta left 93 people dead and more than 170 injured, a Pakistani police official told Efe.

The first bombing targeted a checkpoint in Bachcha Khan square, where two members of the security forces and 10 civilians were killed and a score of other people suffered injuries.

A pair of blasts five hours later resulted in 81 deaths.

Fatalities included a television cameraman, police officers and other emergency personnel, while more than 150 people were wounded.

The early evening attack began with a suicide bombing on the airport highway, followed within 10 minutes by the detonation of a remote-controlled bomb as the media and other first responders arrived at the scene of the initial explosion, the official said.




Obama names chief of staff as new Treasury secretary


U.S. President Barack Obama nominated White House chief of staff Jack Lew to be the nation's new Treasury secretary to replace Timothy Geithner, who had decided to resign after serving in that post for the past four years.

Obama emphasized that Lew, who must be confirmed by the Senate, has substantial experience in budget matters.

Lew also headed the White House Office of Management and Budget between 2010 and early 2012, a post he previously held during Bill Clinton's presidency, where he gained hardcore experience in complex budget negotiations with Congress.

Obama said he trusted that the Senate will confirm Lew in his new post as quickly as possible.




At least 11 dead in Venezuela highway pile-up


At least 11 people died and 75 were injured in a pile-up on a highway in the western Venezuelan state of Zulia that included a truck and two buses, authorities said.

"We presume that the driver (of the truck) stopped because there was a thick cloud of smoke ... which impeded the visibility of the traffic, and the buses came from behind," Henry Uzcategui, the fire chief in Santa Rita, told reporters.

The crash occurred shortly before midnight Wednesday.

The buses were heading for Caracas at the time of the pile-up, in which three other automobiles were involved.




Chavez supporters throng Venezuelan capital


Thousands of supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez flooded into central Caracas to participate in a rally called by the governing PSUV to support the ailing leftist leader on the day he was supported to be sworn in for another term.

Starting early in the morning, people from across the Andean nation gathered near the presidential palace to shout slogans supporting the leader and the Supreme Court ruling that the inauguration could be delayed until Chavez recovers.

The 58-year-old head of state, who won another six-year term in the Oct. 7 election, remains hospitalized in Cuba four weeks after undergoing his fourth cancer surgery in 18 months.




Kurdish activists murdered in France


The three Kurdish political activists found dead here were shot execution-style, French Interior Minister Manuel Valls said, vowing that authorities will do everything possible to solve the crime.

The triple-murder is "totally unacceptable," he told reporters at the Kurdistan Information Center in Paris, where the bodies of the three women were discovered.

The hundreds of people who began gathering outside the center at dawn chanted "Revenge" and "We Are All PKK," referring to the Kurdistan Workers Party, with which the victims were associated.

Several in the crowd suggested Turkey was behind the killings, while the government in Ankara attributed the deaths to internecine conflict among the Kurds.




Emergency declared in N. Mexico due to heavy snow


The Mexican government declared a emergency in 21 municipalities in the northern state of Chihuahua due to heavy snow and a cold wave blamed for six deaths there.

Federal officials said that the measure, which was requested by the Chihuahua government, will allow authorities to access resources within the national emergency fund to cover food, clothing and health care needs among the affected population.




Argentina welcomes navy ship impounded in Ghana


The Argentine government threw a big party to welcome home a navy vessel that was seized in Ghana last year at the request of a hedge fund seeking full repayment on defaulted debt.

Several thousand people, including supporters of President Cristina Fernandez's Front for Victory alliance, government officials and relatives of crew members of the ARA Libertad, gathered at the seaside resort of Mar del Plata for the celebration, which featured an air show, music and fireworks.

The ARA Libertad on Wednesday culminated its longest-ever training voyage, which began on June 2 in Buenos Aires and took it to ports in Brazil, Suriname, Guyana, Venezuela, Portugal, Spain, Morocco and Senegal before it was seized in Ghana.

The ship was impounded in that West African country in early October when a court there granted an injunction by Cayman Islands-based hedge fund NML Capital Ltd., which is seeking to fully collect on some $284 million in unpaid bonds, plus interest.




Eurogroup chief calls for European minimum wage


The EU should adopt a minimum wage and other measures of solidarity to ensure that the European Union's "social dimension" does not disappear amid a bloc-wide austerity drive, Eurogroup President Jean-Claude Juncker said.

"It is indispensable to agree on a European legal minimum wage," the Luxembourg prime minister told the Economic Committee of the European Parliament.

Without such a step, he said, the EU "will lose the support of Europe's working class."

"The social dimension of the European Union is the bastard child of the economic and monetary union, but we must maintain it ... and talk about it in concrete, not abstract, terms," Juncker said.

Seventeen of the 27 EU member-states have adopted the euro.




Spanish prison proposes lenient detention regime for Carromero


The treatment board of a prison in the north-central Spanish province of Segovia has proposed that Angel Carromero, who was extradited from Cuba after being convicted there of vehicular manslaughter, be granted open-regime, or semi-free, status.

Sources with the General Secretariat of Penitentiary Institutions told Efe Thursday that the prison where the Spaniard is serving out his sentence made the proposal and that the secretariat will issue its final decision on Friday.

Carromero, a leader of the youth wing of Spain's governing conservative Popular Party, is serving a four-year sentence handed down by a Cuban court for a July 2012 car accident in which prominent Cuban dissident Osvaldo Paya and another opponent of the island's communist government were killed.

The proposal states that Carromero meets the requirements of open-regime status, citing his family ties in Spain, the type of crime committed, his conduct while in prison and the fact he is employed.

The Madrid municipal government announced that if Carromero is granted open-regime status he can return to his workplace in a district of the Spanish capital.