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The world in brief: Troop-bus bomb kills 14 people in Syria

by Compiled Democrat-Gazette Staff From Wire Reports | October 21, 2021 at 3:37 a.m.
A firefighter extinguishes a bus fire Wednesday after a bombing in Damascus, Syria. (AP/SANA)

Troop-bus bombs kill 14 people in Syria

DAMASCUS, Syria -- Two bombs attached to a bus carrying Syrian troops exploded in Damascus during the morning rush hour Wednesday, a military official said. Fourteen people were killed in the attack, one of the deadliest in the capital in years.

While the Syrian government's decade-long conflict with insurgents continues in parts of the country, including the rebel-held northwest, bombings in Damascus have become exceedingly rare since President Bashar Assad's troops pushed opposition fighters from the capital's suburbs in 2018.

Shortly after the Damascus bombings, government shells landed in a rebel-held town in northern Syria, killing at least 10 people, four of them children. The attack, part of the government campaign to regain control of areas still in opposition hands, was the worst violence in the region since a truce in March last year was negotiated by Turkey and Russia, allies of the opposition and Syrian government, respectively.

Assad's forces now control much of Syria after military support from Russia and Iran helped tip the balance of power in his favor. U.S. and Turkish troops, meanwhile, are deployed in parts of the country's north.

A little known group calling itself the Qasioun Brigades claimed responsibility for the explosions in Damascus, saying the bombs were attached under the bus. It added in a short statement posted on social media that attacks in government-held areas will continue in retaliation for "massacres committed against our people in the liberated north."

Death toll reaches 46 in India flooding

LUCKNOW, India -- At least 46 people have died and several are missing after floods triggered by heavy rains hit the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, officials said Wednesday.

Rescuers worked through the night to retrieve bodies stuck in debris and to evacuate those in vulnerable areas, said S.A. Murugeshan, secretary of the state's disaster management. On Tuesday, officials said 22 people were killed by the rains.

The mountainous state has seen incessant rains for the past three days, flooding roads, destroying bridges and causing landslides in which several homes were washed away. The situation has prompted help from more than 2,000 members of the paramilitary and civil police.

The Indian Meteorological Department said the rains were likely to recede in Uttarakhand on Wednesday, but warned of more heavy downpours in the country's northeastern and southern regions.

Experts say the magnitude of the rains has been staggering. Uttarakhand saw 7 inches of rain in the first few weeks this month, but recorded nearly 22.8 inches within just 22 hours Tuesday, said Bikram Singh, the director of the Meteorological Center in Dehradun, the state's capital city.

India has seen worrisome rains across several regions this week. Flooding and landslides caused by downpours over the week have killed at least 39 people in the southern Kerala state, which is on high alert for more rains in the coming days.

Japanese on alert after volcano erupts

TOKYO -- A volcano in southern Japan erupted Wednesday with a large column of gray smoke billowing into the sky.

The Japan Meteorological Agency raised the warning level for Mount Aso to three on a scale of five, warning hikers and residents to avoid the mountain.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said there has been no report of damages or injuries.

NHK national television aired footage of a smoke column above the volcano.

The smoke rose as high as 11,480 feet above the crater, with pyroclastic flow pouring out almost a mile down the western slope of the mountain, the agency said.

The explosion blew off volcanic rocks as far as 2,950 feet from the crater and ashfalls were detected in several towns in the Kumamoto and neighboring Miyazaki prefectures.

The warning was issued for the city of Aso and two nearby towns in Kumamoto prefecture, which is in the north-central region of the southern island of Kyushu.

Road blast kills 4 people in Pakistan

PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- A roadside bomb struck a vehicle carrying security forces in a former stronghold of local militants in northwest Pakistan on Wednesday, killing four, police said.

The attack happened in Bajur, a district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on Pakistan's border with Afghanistan. The area served as a base for the Pakistani Taliban until a few years ago, when the army said it cleared the region of insurgents. But the violence has continued there.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the latest attack.

Senior police officer Abdul Samad Khan said two police officers and two soldiers were killed in the attack. He said troops launched a search operation in the region to find those who orchestrated the attack.

Khan refused to speculate on who could be behind the attack.

But suspicion fell on Pakistan's own Taliban who have been emboldened by the return to power of the Taliban in Afghanistan, where thousands of Pakistani militants are still believed to be hiding.

This photo provided by the Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows smoke rising from Syrian government shelling on the northern town of Ariha, in Idlib province, Syria, Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. Rescue workers reported several people were killed, including children and a woman, in the shelling of Ariha, a town in the last rebel enclave in the country's northwest. (Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets via AP)
This photo provided by the Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows smoke rising from Syrian government shelling on the northern town of Ariha, in Idlib province, Syria, Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. Rescue workers reported several people were killed, including children and a woman, in the shelling of Ariha, a town in the last rebel enclave in the country's northwest. (Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets via AP)
In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA,  a Syrian firefighter extinguishes a burned bus at the site of a deadly explosion, in Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. Two roadside bombs exploded near a bus carrying troops during the morning rush hour in the Syrian capital early Wednesday, killing and wounding several people, state TV reported. (SANA via AP)
In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, a Syrian firefighter extinguishes a burned bus at the site of a deadly explosion, in Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. Two roadside bombs exploded near a bus carrying troops during the morning rush hour in the Syrian capital early Wednesday, killing and wounding several people, state TV reported. (SANA via AP)
In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian firefighters and security officer check a burned bus at the site of a deadly explosion, in Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. Two roadside bombs exploded near a bus carrying troops during the morning rush hour in the Syrian capital early Wednesday, killing and wounding several people, state TV reported. (SANA via AP)
In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian firefighters and security officer check a burned bus at the site of a deadly explosion, in Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. Two roadside bombs exploded near a bus carrying troops during the morning rush hour in the Syrian capital early Wednesday, killing and wounding several people, state TV reported. (SANA via AP)
This photo provided by the Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrian White Helmet civil defense workers carrying a casualty, in the northern town of Ariha, in Idlib province, Syria, Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. Rescue workers reported several people were killed, including children and a woman, in  shelling by Syrian government forces on Ariha, in the last rebel enclave in the country's northwest. (Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets via AP)
This photo provided by the Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrian White Helmet civil defense workers carrying a casualty, in the northern town of Ariha, in Idlib province, Syria, Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. Rescue workers reported several people were killed, including children and a woman, in shelling by Syrian government forces on Ariha, in the last rebel enclave in the country's northwest. (Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets via AP)
In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian security officers gather around a burned bus at the site of a deadly explosion, in Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. Two roadside bombs exploded near a bus carrying troops during the morning rush hour in the Syrian capital early Wednesday, killing and wounding several people, state TV reported. (SANA via AP)
In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian security officers gather around a burned bus at the site of a deadly explosion, in Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. Two roadside bombs exploded near a bus carrying troops during the morning rush hour in the Syrian capital early Wednesday, killing and wounding several people, state TV reported. (SANA via AP)

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