Peshawar, Pakistan – A powerful car bomb tore through a crowded market in northwest Pakistan on Saturday, killing at least 16 people in an attack that local authorities said targeted the offices of an anti-Taliban militia.
The blast occurred in Darra Adam Khel, a town on the edge of Pakistan’s volatile tribal region that is known as a major hub for illegal arms trafficking.
No one was in the militia’s office at the time of the attack. The dead and wounded were shoppers and merchants at a nearby bazaar, local officials said. At least 33 people were injured.
There were conflicting reports on whether the blast was detonated by a suicide bomber or by remote control.
Authorities said they suspected that the Pakistani Taliban, the insurgent group behind the assassination attempt last week on 14-year-old education rights campaigner Malala Yousafzai, was behind the bombing. A local Taliban spokesman denied any responsibility for the blast.
Yousafzai remained in critical condition at a military hospital in Rawalpindi, though doctors say her condition has improved since the attack Tuesday. Two Taliban gunmen on a motorcycle boarded the school van that Yousafzai was traveling in and shot her and two of her schoolmates. One of the girls is in critical condition. The other was not seriously hurt.
After the attack, Yousafzai underwent successful surgery to remove a bullet that had struck her temple and lodged in her neck. Officials say she is still on a ventilator, but there is no indication that the teenager suffered any brain damage.
Chavez adds Maduro to Cabinet as new vice president
Caracas, Venezuela – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez swore in his new vice president and six other Cabinet ministers on Saturday, less than a week after winning a new mandate to extend his self-styled Bolivarian revolution.
Former Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro replaced Elias Jaua as Chavez’s vice president. The 49-year-old Maduro, a burly former bus driver, is considered the member of Chavez’s government with the closest ties to Cuba’s Fidel and Raul Castro.
The vice presidential job has assumed new importance because of Chavez’s recent struggle with cancer and rumors have circulated that Maduro is being groomed as his successor.
Jaua will be the ruling party’s candidate for the governorship of Miranda, Venezuela’s second largest state, which is the power base of Henrique Capriles, the rival Chavez beat in Oct. 7 elections.
Humans once ate pandas, scientist says fossils show
Beijing – A Chinese scientist says humans used to eat pandas.
In a newspaper interview, Wei Guangbiao said prehistoric man ate the bears in what is now part of the city of Chongqing in southwest China.
Wei, the head of the Institute of Three Gorges Paleoanthropology at a Chongqing museum, said many excavated panda fossils “showed that pandas were once slashed to death by man.”
The Chongqing Morning Post quoted him as saying: “In primitive times, people wouldn’t kill animals that were useless to them” and therefore the pandas must have been used as food.
But he says pandas were much smaller then.