World News

    Beirut Car Bomb Kills Ex-Minister Chatah

    Lebanese officials say a car bombing in central Beirut has killed former Finance Minister Mohamad Chatah and at least four others.

    Chatah, a Sunni Muslim, was a respected economist and senior advisor to ex-Prime Minister Saad Hariri. He previously served as Lebanon's ambassador to Washington.

    VOA correspondent Margaret Besheer, who is in Beirut, says many observers see the 62-year-old Chatah as an unlikely assassination target.



    "He is not a current member of the government. He's not a deputy in the parliament. He's not a current minister. When we've seen assassinations in Lebanon in the recent past, it's usually active members of government who are targeted or major political figures from important families."



    Dozens of people were wounded in Friday's explosion, which occurred near government headquarters and left a thick cloud of black smoke rising above the city skyline. Video and social media showed terrified people running from the scene, with cars on fire and windows blown out.



    Yara Zeitoun, who is in Beirut on vacation, told VOA she just missed walking in front of the bomb site as the explosion happened. She said the damage to the area is extensive.



    "We're two buildings away from the scene, and we had debris fall all over our apartment from the ceiling and from outside. Dust dust blew in everywhere in the house. It was just a monumental sound."



    No one has claimed responsibility. But Lebanon has seen a recent increase in violence related to Syria's civil war that has spilled over the border.

    Chatah was an outspoken critic of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. His last message on Twitter, posted about an hour before the car bombing, was critical of Syria and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, which has supported President Assad in the country's civil war.

    Saad Hariri blamed Hezbollah for the assassination. The militant group called it a "heinous crime" within the "framework of a series of crimes and bombings aimed at sabotaging the country."

    The U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly condemned the bombing, saying he is "shocked and saddened." He called for those responsible to be brought to justice.

    The site of the assassination was close to where former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the father of Saad Hariri, was killed in a truck bombing in 2005. Investigations have suggested Syria and Hezbollah were involved in that assassination. Both deny the accusation.

    The Friday car bombing occurred just days before several Hezbollah members go on trial at a U.N.-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which is investigating the Rafik Hariri assassination.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora