April 16, 2017
From Washington, this is VOA news. I'm David Byrd reporting.
Scores of Syrians have been killed and dozens of others wounded in an explosion Saturday on a bus convoy that was carrying thousands of evacuees.
Syrian rescue workers who operate in opposition areas, also known as the White Helmets, say their volunteers were able to remove at least 100 bodies from the scene of the blast.
The huge explosion earlier Saturday came as a much criticized population transfer deal stalled as the government and rebels bickered over who should be evacuated.
Syrian state media said at least 39 people were killed.
A rebel official says at least 30 of his opposition fighters who were guarding the evacuees were killed.
The group was traveling [from Aleppo to] to Aleppo from Foua and Kfraya after they had reached an evacuation deal to leave their homes.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is on his way to South Korea amid a tense standoff on the Korean peninsula. Pence's 10-day four-nation trip will also include stops in Japan, Indonesia and Australia. It is the vice president's first official trip to the Asia-Pacific rim.
Although North Korea did not conduct a nuclear test Saturday as some had expected, leader Kim Jong Un presided over a huge military parade in celebration of the April 15 birthday of the country's founder and his grandfather, Kim Il Sung.
Pence's trip to South Korea comes less than two weeks after Pyongyang launched a ballistic missile into the waters off its east coast that prompted a warning from President Donald Trump the U.S. would act unilaterally if necessary to end the country's acts of aggression.
This is VOA news.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan concluded his long referendum campaign with a rally in Istanbul Saturday ahead of Sunday's crucial vote on whether to expand presidential powers.
Erdoğan told thousands of supporters waving Turkish flags that they can shock the world by voting "yes" on Sunday.
He said, "Let's implement such a reform together so that tomorrow evening the West goes mad."
Meanwhile, thousands gathered in the Kurdish-dominated city of Diyarbakir on Saturday for a Turkish opposition party's final meeting in support of a "no" vote. The crowd answered "no" every time HDP M.P. Osman Baydemir asked whether they wanted to expand the president's power.
Erdoğan is calling on his countrymen to vote Sunday to approve 18 constitutional changes that would, among other things, abolish the office of the prime minister and hand all executive power to the president.
Pope Francis Saturday denounced how migrants, the poor and marginalized see their human dignity crucified every day through injustice and corruption.
In his Easter vigil message, the pontiff said the poor cannot be treated with contempt that denies their humanity.
He said, "In their faces, we see reflected those who, walking the streets of our cities, feel the pain of dire poverty, the sorrow born of exploitation and human trafficking."
Francis presided over the solemn late night ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica at a time of heightened security following a spate of Islamic-inspired attacks and tensions over Europe's migrant influx.
Meanwhile, faithful from eastern Orthodox churches gathered inside Jerusalem's Holy Sepulcher on Saturday to take part in the annual Holy Fire ceremony. According to Eastern Orthodox tradition, on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter, a fire appears spontaneously from what is believed to Jesus' tomb as a reminder to followers that he has not forgotten them.
Clashes broke out Saturday in downtown Berkeley, California, as supporters and opponents of President Donald Trump exchanged blows, threw bottles and cans and fought with police.
Police in riot gear fired tear gas and tried to separate the two groups. At least 13 protesters were arrested during the blows.
The fighting broke out during an event organized as a so-called "Patriots Day" free speech rally and picnic by conservative activists.
The protest coincided with rallies in dozens of U.S. cities where thousands demanded the president release his tax returns.
I'm David Byrd in Washington.
That's the latest world news from VOA.
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