BBC World News 2012-07-19

BBC News with Stewart Macintosh

Syria state television has reported that three senior figures in President Assad's government have been killed in a suicide bomb attack in the capital Damascus. The president's brother-in-law, Assef Shawkat, was among the dead. He had been very influential in the security services. Also killed were the Defense Minister Daoud Rajiha and Gen Hassan Turkomani, who was heading the crisis management team that the bomber targeted. Frank Gardner reports.

In Damascus, the rumors are rife , but the conclusion is clear. The ruler President Assad is now under more serious threat than ever before. That does not mean it's on the point of immediate collapse, but the death of Assef Shawkat, the president's powerful brother-in-law, is a triple blow for the ruling family. He's the closest person to the president to be killed so far. The personal command and control he built up in the armed forces has now gone, and his apparent assassination in the heart of the capital will make others in the regime wonder if anywhere in the country is safe for them.

Syria's rebel Free Syrian Army has said it was responsible for the bomb attack in Damascus. The Syrian government said it was more determined than ever to hit back at what it called terrorists backed by the United States and Israel. But unlike previous incidents, Syrian state television has not shown images from the attack.

The United States says the killing of senior Syrian government figures shows that President Bashar al-Assad is losing control of his country. The White House Press Secretary Jay Carney gave this assessment of today's attack.

"The incident today makes clear that Assad is losing control, that violence is increasing, rather than decreasing, and that all of our partners, internationally, need to come together and support the transition."

A bomb has exploded on a bus carrying Israeli tourists in Bulgaria, killing at least six people and injuring more than thirty. The incident happened at the airport of the Black Sea resort Burgas. The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has blamed Iran as Yolande Knell reports.

In a statement on the attack, Mr Netanyahu said all the signs pointed to Iran. He claimed this was the latest in a series of attempts to target Israelis in foreign locations, including Thailand, India, Georgia, Kenya and Cyprus. And he warned other strong reaction to what he called 'Iranian terror'. Teheran did not immediately give any response. According to Israel's foreign ministry, the explosion in the Black Sea city of Burgas was caused by a bomb. It went off on a bus carrying tourists who just arrived on a chart of flight from Tel Aviv.

A 97-year-old Hungarian man suspected of taking part in the deportation of Jews in 1944 has been put under house arrest after he was questioned in Budapest. Prosecutors say they're studying evidence that could lead to the man, Laszlo Csatary, being charged with committing war crimes.

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The United States Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner says the uncertainty about possible tax increases and government spending next year poses a significant risk for the US economy. Speaking on US television, he said a balanced mix of reforms was needed to address the government's financial problems.

Eight thousand Nigerians have been moved out of their village in the troubled Plateau state where religious and ethnic clashes left around 100 dead earlier this month. The army reached an agreement with the Fulani community on Monday to temporarily leave five villages so that a security sweep could be conducted. Eleven days ago, suspected Fulani gunmen stormed many Christian villages.

A Taliban attack has destroyed at least 22 trucks carrying supplies to Nato forces fighting in Afghanistan. An explosion triggered a fire which tore through the trucks while they were parked overnight in the northern province of Samangan. At least one of the drivers was injured. Nato has made greater use of northern supply routes into Afghanistan since Pakistan banned Nato traffic last December. Pakistan lifted its blockade earlier this month.

The authorities in India are investigating allegations that staff at a private school in Bangalore deliberately humiliated the poorer children it was legally obliged to teach. The children are reportedly from low-caste Hindu communities. The school administration has made no comment. Andrew North reports from Delhi.

Indian schools are supposed to reserve up to a quarter of their places for children from poorer backgrounds, but many private institutions oppose what's known as the right to education quota – among them, this school in Bangalore. Parents of four children admitted under the scheme complained to the local authorities that they had tufts of their hair cut off to distinguish them from other children. They're also denied the same uniform as other children, their parents say, and made to sit at the back of the class to humiliate them.

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