Thursday morning news: March 22, 2018

Austin bomber latest » The serial bomber behind a series of package bombs in Texas is dead and investigators believe he acted alone. That was the word from Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Wednesday but he cautioned Austin residents that the investigation is still ongoing. 

ABBOTT: We don’t know if there are any other bombs out there, and if so, how many and where they may be, because this individual may have, either by mail or by placement or whatever the case may be, have put other bombs out there. So everyone needs to be remaining vigilant. 

The suspected bomber was 24-year-old Mark Anthony Conditt. Investigators tracked the suspect’s vehicle to a hotel in suburban Austin. As police pursued Conditt he drove into a ditch, and as a SWAT team approached he detonated a bomb inside the vehicle killing himself instantly.

Officials continue to investigate the motive behind the attacks. They gathered evidence from Conditt’s home in Pflugerville, just outside of Austin and have questioned his two roommates.  

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen addressed the investigation on Wednesday.

NIELSEN: Over the course of nearly three weeks at least seven explosive devices were encountered in and around the Austin area, with five of them unfortunately detonating. Our thoughts go out to the victims and their families, and our gratitude is extended to the frontline defenders who helped locate the alleged perpetrator.

Trump congratulates Putin » President Trump continues to draw criticism from his own party after he placed a call to Russian President Vladimir Putin this week.

TRUMP: And congratulated him on the victory – his electoral victory.

Arizona Senator John McCain quickly tweeted: “An American president does not lead the Free World by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters:

MCCONNELL: When I look at a Russian election, what I see is a lack of credibility. 

According to a Washington Post report, the president’s call came after his advisors warned him in briefing materials NOT to congratulate Putin.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio also disagreed with the president congratulating Putin, but he added–quote … “the bigger outrage is this leak could only come from someone in [the president’s] inner circle. If you don’t like the president, resign, but this ongoing pattern of duplicity holds potential for serious damage to the nation.”

The White House called the leak a quote—“fireable offense and likely illegal.”

Lipinski wins » Congressman Dan Lipinski, one of the last pro-life Democrats in Congress … survived his primary race in Illinois Tuesday. Lipinski narrowly defeated liberal businesswoman Marie Newman—winning 51 percent of the vote to Newman’s 49.

The race was too close to call Tuesday night, but Newman conceded Wednesday morning.

Kabul bombing » A suicide bomber believed to be an ISIS terrorist attacked a crowd in Kabul, Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing dozens. WORLD Radio’s Sarah Schweinsberg reports.

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: As Afghans marked the Persian New Year, a crowd gathered near a Shiite shrine in Kabul. A short time later, a man strapped with explosives walked into the crowd and blew himself up. The blast killed at least 29 people and wounded more than 50 others.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack in an online statement.

Back in December, ISIS bombed a Shiite mosque in Kabul, killing at least 41 people. Afghan officials are investigating how the bomber passed undetected through police checkpoints along the road.     

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.

Damascus attack » Meanwhile, hours earlier in Damascus … a mortar attack killed at least 43 people in the Syrian capital. Witnesses told state-run media that the attack happened during rush hour at a market a day before the country marked Mother’s Day. A hospital official told state television the majority of the casualties were women and children.

Boko Haram frees girls » Nigerian-based extremist group Boko Haram unexpectedly freed more than a hundred kidnapped school girls on Wednesday, but issued a warning. WORLD’s Africa reporter Onize Ohikere has more.

ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: Witnesses in the town of Dapchi said the extremists returned all but 9 of the 110 schoolgirls the group abducted last month from the town of Dapchi.

One of the released girls said five of her classmates died and another remained captive because of her Christian faith. Nigerian Information Minister Lai Mohammed said the government paid no ransom for the girls’ release. Mohammed said the girls will receive medical care and counseling.

The militants told residents they released the girls out of pity and warned them never to put their daughters in school again.

The name “Boko Haram” translates to “Western education is sin.”

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Onize Ohikere.

I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: Mindy Belz on Turkey’s transformation. Plus, Cal Thomas on the growing threat from Russia.

This is The World and Everything in It.

(Yuri Kadobnov/Pool Photo via AP) Russian President and Presidential candidate Vladimir Putin gestures as he speaks at his campaign headquarters in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, March 18, 2018.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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