October 3, 2018

(This is VOA) news. I'm Christopher Cruise reporting.

At least 14 people were killed Tuesday when a bomb exploded at an election-related gathering in eastern Afghanistan.

The Taliban has now claimed responsibility for the attack, which happened in a province where both Taliban insurgents and Islamic State militants are active.

Separately, officials told VOA on Tuesday that the Afghan military has mistakenly bombed one of its own bases in the Nad Ali district of southern Helmand province during a counter-Taliban operation.

Six Afghan soldiers were killed and eight were wounded.

The United Nations and other international agencies are on the ground and more are en route to help victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Sulawesi, Indonesia. The government says 1,234 people have been killed, 800 seriously injured and nearly 100 missing.

Correspondent Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from the U.N. European headquarters in Geneva.

The United Nations estimates 66,000 houses have been damaged and nearly 62,000 people made homeless by the 7.4 magnitude earthquake that struck Sulawesi on Friday.

U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs spokesman Jens Laerke says thousands of people are unable to return to their damaged or destroyed homes. Many fearful, terrified survivors are sleeping in the open as aftershocks of the devastating quake continue.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies says rescue teams are reporting "incredibly difficult conditions."

About 34 migrants have died in a shipwreck in the western Mediterranean. The U.N.'s International Organization for Migration said 26 people survived.

The boat had been adrift. It had 60 people on board.

This is VOA news.

The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said Tuesday he will host representatives of Russia, Germany and France as they try to find a way to bring an end to the conflict in Syria.

Erdoğan said Turkey will strengthen its observation points in Syria's northwest and work with Russia against radical groups.

Turkey and Russia agreed in mid-September to enforce a new demilitarized zone in Syria's Idlib province, from which rebels will be required to withdraw.

France has frozen the assets of two Iranian intelligence officials in response to an alleged aborted bombing attempt outside Paris in June.

The French government said it also froze the assets of Iran's Ministry of Security and Intelligence.

Iran has denied any role in the foiled attack and accuses the People's Mujahedeen of Iran of coordinating the plot to discredit Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Two letters sent to the Pentagon have tested positive for the highly toxic poison, ricin. One was sent to Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, the other two the top navy admiral.

The U.S. Environment Protection Agency is proposing that some regulations on radiation exposure be weakened.

Associated Press correspondent Ben Thomas reports.

For decades, government agencies have subscribed to the view that any exposure to harmful radiation is a cancer risk.

But now the EPA is proposing to change how it gauges safety for those who live and work around radiation.

The pending proposal would require regulators to consider theories that smaller amounts of radiation exposure may not be harmful or may in fact be healthy.

The EPA cites a University of Massachusetts toxicologist who argues that cell damage from radiation is a strength-building stressor like exercise.

The U.S. National Council on Radiation Protection says no credible public health study supports that view.

President Trump's wife, Melania, is in Ghana to start a tour of Africa.

VOA White House correspondent Patsy Widakuswara reports.

The White House says her trip will "focus on maternal and newborn care in hospitals, education for children, the deep culture and history woven into each African country, and how the United States is supporting each country on its journey to self-reliance."

USAID programs in Africa were slated for significant cuts in the Trump administration's proposed budget but have been blocked by Congress.

The number of Venezuelan migrants living in Colombia could swell to four million by 2021 if the crisis in the socialist country escalates.

The estimate coming Tuesday from Colombia's foreign minister who also estimated the cost of the crisis at $9 billion.

There is more on these and other late breaking and developing stories, from around the world, around the clock, at voanews.com and on the VOA news mobile app. I'm Christopher Cruise, VOA news.