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story.lead_photo.caption A police investigator stands by the wreckage of a regional bus that plunged from a hill Sunday, killing at least 24 passengers who were on an excursion in northern Tunisia’s Amdoun region.

24 passengers die in Tunisian bus plunge

TUNIS, Tunisia -- A bus plummeted off a hill in Tunisia on Sunday morning, killing 24 passengers who were on an excursion in the country's north, government officials said.

The regional bus, which was carrying 43 people and belonged to a private local company, veered off a winding road after the driver failed to maneuver a sharp turn and crashed at the bottom of a ravine, the Interior Ministry said.

Local media showed images of an overturned, crumpled bus with smashed windows at the foot of a hill.

Health Ministry spokesman Chokri Nafti said that the crash left 18 people injured. Some were taken to the nearby Amdoun and Beja hospitals, while the more seriously injured were transported to specialized hospitals in Tunis.

When it crashed, the vehicle was headed 115 miles west from the capital, Tunis, to Ain Draham, a local tourist spot renowned for its mountainous reliefs on the border with Algeria. Ain Draham is located at an elevation of more than 2,600 feet on the slopes of the Djebel Bir, one of the Kroumirie mountains.

Prime Minister Youssef Chahed interrupted a visit to the south of the North African country to return to the seat of government in Kasbah where a crisis center has been set up.

U.S. drone strike said to kill 5 Afghans

KHOST, Afghanistan -- A U.S. drone strike on a car carrying a woman who had just given birth in southeastern Afghanistan left five people dead, including the mother, three of her relatives and the driver, Afghan officials and family members said Sunday.

The strike in the Alisher district of Khost province occurred either late Friday or early Saturday, they said. The woman, Malana, 25, had given birth to a son, her second child, at home. But her health had deteriorated soon after and relatives had been taking her to a clinic. On their way home, their vehicle was hit.

After the strike, there was confusion about whether the newborn was among the victims. Later, it became clear that the baby had not been in the car. Turab Khan, a relative, said the boy was safe at home.

The U.S. military command in Afghanistan confirmed a strike in Khost, saying that three Taliban fighters had been killed. But the military said the strike occurred Thursday.

"We are aware of the allegations of civilian casualties and working with local authorities to determine the veracity of these claims," Col. Sonny Leggett, a military spokesman, said.

Convicted Suriname president returns

PARAMARIBO, Suriname -- More than 1,500 supporters welcomed Suriname President Desi Bouterse as he returned Sunday to the South American country just days after a court convicted him in the 1982 killings of 15 political opponents.

Bouterse dismissed the 20-year prison sentence that he received on Friday as he greeted supporters after an official trip to China.

"There is a lot of love in my party," he said during a news conference held at a nature resort close to the airport, adding that the decision by the panel of three judges was unexpected. "It was clear that the verdict was political."

Bouterse declined further comment, saying he was advised by his lawyer to not talk about the ruling. He said only that he would meet with his advisers and members of Parliament on the strategy to follow, adding that he is focused on the May 2020 general elections.

The court did not issue an arrest order for Bouterse after its verdict, and defense attorney Irvin Kanhai has appealed the decision.

The court verdict followed a trial that began in 2007 and faced multiple setbacks, including efforts by Bouterse to halt the legal proceedings and push through an amnesty law that was ruled unconstitutional.

Albania asks for foreign aid after quake

TIRANA, Albania -- Albania's prime minister said Sunday he has called on the international community for financial aid and expert assistance to help the country recover from a 6.4 magnitude earthquake that killed 51 people and left thousands homeless.

Prime Minister Edi Rama said the government was reshaping the budget to help deal with the crisis but that the country also needs international support.

"Simply, this is humanly impossible to do this [reconstruction] alone," Rama said at a Cabinet meeting.

Tuesday's quake that hit Albania's Adriatic coast also injured more than 3,000 people and left thousands homeless. The worst hit areas were the port town of Durres, a popular beach vacation spot for Albanians 20 miles west of the capital, Tirana, and the nearby northern town of Thumane.

The three quake-hit districts of Tirana, Durres and Lezha remain in a state of emergency and authorities there still have not decided when schools will reopen.

Durres Mayor Valbona Sako resigned Sunday morning after making remarks on Saturday that she was "pleased" only 50 people had died in the earthquake, saying that poor construction, building code violations and corruption were much to blame.

-- COMPILED BY DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE STAFF FROM WIRE REPORTS

Photo by AP/ANDREEA ALEXANDRU
A Romanian serviceman yawns Sunday before the National Day parade in Bucharest, Romania. Thousands turned out to celebrate the date when the country reunified with Transylvania in 1918.

A Section on 12/02/2019

Print Headline: U.S. drone strike said to kill 5 Afghans 24 passengers die in Tunisian bus plunge Convicted Suriname president returns Albania asks for foreign aid after quake

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