October 21, 2018

VOA news. I'm tommy McNeil.

Afghans began voting Saturday in parliamentary elections which have been marred by chaotic organization and violence that forced postponement of the vote in the strategic southern province of Kandahar.

Saskia O'Donoghu reports.

Including the capital Kabul, its south, a suicide bomber killed at least 15 people there and wounded more than 25 others.

Voting in the southern province of Kandahar had to be postponed, too, after the assassination of one of the country's top police commanders. General Abdul Raziq was shot when his bodyguard turned on him just moments after he met with the United States top commander in the country.

General Scott Miller was unharmed in the attack. It's thought he was saved by his body armor.

Only around 5,000 out of planned 7,000 polling stations have been able to open due to security concerns.

That's Saskia O'Donoghu reporting.

And now after meeting The Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi died in its Istanbul consulate, Saudi Arabia authorities now say that more than a dozen men have been arrested, [more than] and implicated in a fight that broke out with them.

Reuters Matthew Larotonda.

The Saudis say they've arrested 18 Saudi nationals involved. A Saudi official also told Reuters separately that the Saudi journalist died of strangulation with a chokehold as his opponents tried to keep him quiet.

This version of events doesn't line up with reports of an audio recording. The details circulated by Turkish media for days that suggest Khashoggi was actually tortured, his fingers severed.

Reports that four American and European intelligence sources had previously said were partly confirmed by their governments' own security services.

U.S. President Donald Trump says he believes Riyadh's statement is credible.

Reuters Matthew Larotonda.

And this is VOA news.

There is new evidence that Russia is continuing its assault on the U.S. election system. A Russian woman has been indicted for trying to meddle with next month's midterm voting.

AP's Sagar Meghani.

It's the first federal case alleging foreign interference in next month's elections.

The Justice Department's accusing a Russian in a sweeping bid to use social media to influence American public opinion on everything from gun control to the NFL national anthem debate.

The charge was announced after U.S. intelligence agencies made a rare public statement in accusing Russia, China, Iran and others of ongoing campaigns to sway voters.

"... to influence the American public, to [draw] sow discord and increase divisiveness ...." Homeland Security Under Secretary Chris Krebs says there is no evidence voting systems themselves have been compromised.

Sagar Meghani, Washington.

And the presidents of Honduras and Guatemala met Saturday to implement a strategy to return a caravan of thousands of migrants to Honduras after U.S. President Trump warned the convoy must be stopped before it reaches the U.S.

A standoff between the migrants and Mexican police continued as they settled on a bridge separating Guatemala and Mexico, with some clinging to the closed border gate crying that "there are children here."

The migrants broke through the fence Friday, running into a wall of police in Mexico, whose government has promised the U.S. will confront the caravan.

The United States and South Korea have suspended upcoming joint air defense drills to give diplomatic efforts with North Korea every opportunity to continue.

VOA's Steve Miller.

The Pentagon said the decision to suspend exercise Vigilant Ace was made by U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo when they met in Singapore Friday.

Vigilant Ace was last carried out in December, 2017, and had been scheduled for December again this year.

Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said in a statement both ministers "pledged to maintain close coordination and evaluate future exercises.h

In addition, a senior White House official said the next summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is likely to happen early next year.

Steve Miller, VOA news, Seoul.

The Mega Millions jackpot in the United States has now grown to $1.6 billion. That was to be. That is up from Friday's drawing of $1 billion, which no one won.

This new figure breaks the previous record set by the $1.586 billion Powerball drawing also held in the United States.

On January 13, 2016, both lotteries are offered in 44 U.S. states plus Washington D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

I'm tommy McNeil, VOA news.