COLOMBIA
Blast at police academy kills 9, injures dozens

At least nine people were killed and dozens injured in a car bombing at a heavily guarded police academy in Colombia’s capital Thursday, recalling attacks seen during the bloodiest chapters of the country’s drug-fueled guerrilla conflict.

The scene outside the General Santander police academy in southern Bogota was chaotic in the aftermath of the midmorning attack. Videos on social media showed panicked police officers carrying injured colleagues on stretchers along a road strewn with debris and body parts.

President Iván Duque rushed back to the capital from a visit to a western state to oversee the police investigation.

Chief Prosecutor Néstor Martínez said a man named José Aldemar Rojas driving a pickup loaded with 175 pounds of explosives carried out the attack. Although no armed group had asserted responsibility, attention was focused on leftist rebels from the National Liberation Army, or ELN, which has been stepping up attacks on police targets amid a standoff with Duque over how to restart stalled peace talks.

In addition to the dead, Bogota’s health department said 54 people were injured.

For decades, Bogota residents lived in fear of being caught in a bombing by leftist rebels or the Medellin drug cartel. But as Colombia’s conflict has wound down, security has improved and people have lowered their guard.

— Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS
WHO to investigate alleged misconduct

The head of the World Health Organization has ordered an internal investigation into allegations that the U.N. health agency is rife with racism, sexism and corruption, after anonymous emails with the explosive allegations were sent to top managers last year.

However, critics doubt that the WHO can effectively investigate itself and have called for the probe to be made public.

Three emails addressed to WHO directors complained about “systematic racial discrimination” against African staffers and other instances of wrongdoing, including claims that some of the money intended to fight Ebola in Congo was misspent.

Last month, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told staffers he had instructed the head of WHO’s office of internal oversight to look into the allegations raised by the emails.He confirmed that directive for the Associated Press on Thursday.

Tedros — a former health minister of Ethiopia — said that investigators looking into the allegations “have all my support” and that he would provide more resources if necessary.

But he disputed claims that the WHO’s hiring policies are skewed, arguing that his top management team is more geographically diverse and gender-balanced than any other U.N. organization.

— Associated Press

Lebanon reportedly holding U.S. citizen: Lebanon's army intelligence has reportedly detained a U.S. citizen on suspicion that he crossed into Lebanon from Israel. Lebanon and Israel are in a state of war and each bans its citizens from visiting the other country. There are no border crossings at the tightly controlled frontier. A military official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said that the man was being questioned and that once the army had information it would release a statement. Lebanese media reported that the detainee is a U.S. citizen. The U.S. Embassy said it had seen those reports and was ready to provide all appropriate consular services. It added that because of privacy considerations, "we have no further comment."

E.U. votes to suspend funds in rule-of-law cases: Amid deep concerns about the rule of law in Hungary and Poland, European Union lawmakers voted to suspend E.U. funds to states that interfere in their courts or fail to tackle corruption. The new rules must now be agreed upon with member countries. Under the plan, the European Commission and independent experts would identify any rule-of-law weaknesses and decide what penalties would be appropriate, including suspending or reducing budget payments to
E.U. nations.

Motorcade of U.N. official comes under fire in Yemen: The head of a U.N. mission tasked with overseeing a peace deal in Yemen's port city of Hodeida was safe after an armored car in his convoy was hit by a bullet, the United Nations said. U.N. spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said retired Dutch general Patrick Cammaert and his team were leaving a meeting with representatives of Yemen's government when the incident occurred. The Houthi rebels and the Saudi-led coalition backing the government each accused the other of targeting the convoy.

Kidnapped Canadian found dead in Burkina Faso: A Canadian kidnapped this week in a restive region of Burkina Faso has been found dead, drawing condemnation from the Canadian and Burkina Faso foreign ministers. Kirk Woodman was abducted Tuesday night by a dozen gunmen at a mining site owned by Vancouver-based Progress Minerals in the northeast near the border with Niger, an area that the government says is under growing threat from armed Islamist militants. Woodman was an employee of the company. The death fans concerns that the influence of violent groups with links to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State has spread uncontested into Burkina Faso from neighboring Mali and Niger.

— From news services