Several Blasts Kill More Than Two Dozen, Injure Scores in NW Pakistan
Two back-to-back bombs went off Friday in northwestern Pakistan, killing at least 15 people and wounding more than 70 others.
The blasts occurred in a crowded market of Parachinar, the main town of the semi-autonomous Kurram tribal district near the Afghan border.
Sajid Turi, a member of parliament from the area, told local the media that a low-intensity blast occurred during afternoon rush hours, before a second powerful bomb exploded. The lawmaker said he anticipated the death toll will increase.
The population in the area where the deadly blasts occurred is predominantly Shi’ite Muslims.
A military statement said it has dispatched two helicopters to Parachinar to evacuate injured to hospitals in Peshawar.
There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the deadly blasts.
The attacks happened hours after a car bombing in southwestern city of Quetta killed at least 13 people and wounded 20 others.
Senior police officers apparently were the target. At least seven personnel were among the dead.
A splinter Pakistani Taliban faction, Jamaatul Ahrar, claimed responsibility for that attack.
New Trump Exec. Order May Increase US Visa Wait Times
White House and State Department officials said Thursday that a new executive order revoking an Obama-era guideline on processing times at consulates was made in the interest of "vetting" and national security.
It was not immediately clear how much much longer the process will take for the millions of tourist, student, and business visa seekers who apply to travel to the country every year.
The brief order signed by U.S. President Donald Trump a day earlier deletes part of a 2012 order that sought to expedite the processing time for non-immigrant visas, including those needed by students and tourists.
The original order issued by then-President Barack Obama called on the State Department to "ensure that 80 percent of nonimmigrant visa applicants are interviewed within 3 weeks of receipt of application."
The new order comes amid months of efforts by the Trump administration to wield executive powers over certain immigration policies and implement what officials refer to as "extreme vetting."
A White House spokesman told VOA the amendment "removes an arbitrary requirement."
"The president expects careful, accurate vetting of visa applicants, not a rushed process to accommodate an arbitrary deadline," assistant press secretary Michael Short said Thursday.
The administration recently expanded the visa application process to include social media handles used during the last five years, and additional biographical information for the last 15 years - meaning the consular officials can ask for a would-be visitor's Facebook profile, and a list of everywhere they've traveled for more than a decade.