1 Afghan bombing: A suicide bombing in Afghanistan’s eastern Paktia province on Thursday — that appeared to target a military compound but exploded before its destination — killed five civilians and wounded at least 29 others, including civilians and military personnel, Afghan officials said. The Taliban took responsibility for the bombing, calling it retaliation for statements by President Ashraf Ghani blaming it for an attack earlier this week against a maternity hospital that killed 24 people, including two newborns as well as several mothers and nurses. The Taliban were quick to deny responsibility and condemn that attack this week.
2 Bamboo scarcity: The Calgary Zoo will be returning two giant pandas on loan from China because a scarcity of flights due to COVID-19 has caused problems with getting enough bamboo to feed them. Er Shun and Da Mao arrived in Calgary in 2018 after spending five years at the Toronto Zoo and were to remain in the Alberta city until 2023. The zoo’s president, Clement Lanthier, said this week the facility spent months trying to overcome transportation barriers in acquiring fresh bamboo and decided it’s best for the animals to be in China, where their main food source is abundant.
3 Church dispute: Montenegrin police said Thursday they have detained around 60 people following clashes at protests demanding the release of eight Serbian Orthodox Church priests jailed for leading a religious procession despite a ban on gatherings related to the coronavirus outbreak. Twenty-six officers were injured during the unrest late Wednesday in the towns of Niksic and Pljevlja, police said. Prime Minister Dusko Markovic in a televised address on Thursday described the protests as a “brutal attack on the state that could have unforeseeable consequences on public health. There is no reasonable explanation or justification for such behavior.” The detained priests are facing charges of violating health regulations during the virus outbreak by organizing the procession.
4 West Bank violence: Israeli troops shot and killed a Palestinian man who allegedly rammed his car into a soldier in the southern West Bank on Thursday, the army said, the latest in a string of violence in recent days. The military said the Palestinian driver struck an Israeli soldier near the West Bank settlement of Negohot, south of Hebron. A second soldier at the scene shot the driver, who died of his wounds. Paramedics said the Israeli soldier suffered moderate injuries and was hospitalized. In recent years, Israel has seen car-ramming attacks, shootings, and stabbings carried out mostly by lone Palestinian attackers with no apparent links to armed groups. On Tuesday, an Israeli soldier was killed when a rock thrown off a rooftop struck him in the head during an arrest raid in the West Bank.
5 Sephardic Jews: Spain’s government said Thursday it will extend the deadline for descendants of Sephardic Jews expelled from the country more than 500 years ago, who have launched the process of acquiring Spanish citizenship but couldn’t complete it due to the pandemic. The extension of one year until Sept. 2021 applies only to those who had presented their preliminary request for citizenship before the Oct. 2019 deadline. More than 132,000 people who claim Sephardic origins had requested Spanish citizenship since the law offering them the opportunity took effect in 2015. Spain issued the law to redress the “historical mistake” Spain committed when it forced its Jewish population to convert or go into exile in 1492. The term “Sephardic” literally means “Spanish” in Hebrew.
Chronicle News Services