Car bomb kills 53 in Syrian capital


A car bomb killed at least 53 people and wounded more than 200 in central Damascus in one of the bloodiest attacks in the Syrian capital since the start of the revolt against Bashar Assad's regime in March 2011.

The apparent target was an office of the ruling Baath Party, but the blast also affected a bus station and a school and students were among the casualties, according to what authorities told Efe.

The zone of destruction was enormous, with numerous buildings damaged and dozens of vehicles burned and destroyed.

The official news agency, Sana, attributed the attack to "terrorist" groups and said that authorities discovered nearby another automobile loaded with explosives and arrested its driver.




11 Die in India bombings


At least 11 people died and 50 were wounded in two explosions in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, police told Efe.

The first explosion occurred about 7 p.m. near two movie theaters at a bus stop in the Dilsukhnagar neighborhood, where a fruit and vegetable market is located.

The second blast took place five minutes later in the same area, according to the police source consulted by Efe.

Authorities do not yet know the cause or motive for the explosions but preliminary indications are that they were terrorist attacks.




7 Dead in shootout in Kenya mosque


At least seven people died when gunmen opened fire on people attending the morning prayer session in a mosque near the Kenyan town of Liboi, some 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) from the Somali border.

Regional police chief Maalim Mohamed - quoted Thursday by the online edition of The Standard - said that five men died inside the sanctuary while two women were killed outside.

Police said that they do not as yet know the motive for the attack or whether it is linked to the more than 40 terrorist attacks Kenya has seen since 2011, when its army entered Somalia to fight the Muslim fundamentalist Al Shabaab militia.




Japan executes 3 inmates


The Japanese government executed three inmates who had been sentenced to death, marking the first executions since conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in December, the Justice Ministry said.

The three inmates, who were ages 29, 44 and 62, had been convicted of murder and were hanged.

Japan and the United States are the only industrialized democratic countries that have capital punishment.




Mexico City fair offers book lovers over 1,200 events


The 34th International Book Fair of Palacio de Mineria in Mexico City is offering book lovers more than 1,200 events this year, including appearances by over 100 authors, organizers said.

The Mexican capital's Palacio de Mineria will be the scene of 674 book presentations, 120 readings and 502 other events organized by the National Autonomous University of Mexico, or UNAM, and the Autonomous Metropolitan University, or UAM.

Education is essential for breaking the circle of poverty and ignorance, UNAM president Jose Narro Robles said.




U.S. denies considering removing Cuba from terrorism-sponsor list


The U.S. government denied that it is considering removing Cuba from the list of countries that sponsor terrorism, where Havana has found itself since 1982 and which has constituted one of the great obstacles to the thawing of bilateral relations.

State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland rejected the suggestion contained in an article published Thursday by the Boston Globe, which said that several top officials and members of Congress had concluded that Cuba should be removed from the list and had conveyed that idea to Secretary of State John Kerry.

"I saw that report. Let me say firmly here it is incorrect. This Department has no current plans to remove Cuba from the state sponsor of terrorism list," said Nuland at her daily press conference.




Bail decision for "Blade Runner" postponed


The judge hearing the case of South African Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius, who stands accused of murdering his girlfriend, has put off a decision on whether to release him on bail.

At the close of the third day of the bail hearing here for Pistorius, known as the "Blade Runner" because of the high-tech, carbon-fiber prosthetics he wears on both legs during his races, Judge Desmond Nair postponed until Friday a decision on whether to allow the athlete to go free pending trial.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel argued Thursday against releasing the defendant, saying he is a flight risk and poses a threat to others because of his alleged violent character.

Nel referred to three past incidents involving the athlete, who is accused of premeditated murder, in which he allegedly threatened other people with phrases such as "I'll break your legs."




Mexico slaughters nearly 500,000 birds infected with avian flu


A total of 480,000 birds affected by an outbreak of avian influenza at 12 farms in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato have been destroyed, the National Food Health, Safety and Quality Service, or Senasica, said.

Some 189,500 birds have been immunized to contain the outbreak of "avian influenza of highly pathogenic AH7N" in four cities in Guanajuato, the Agriculture Secretariat agency said.