South Asia

Sri Lanka's strongmen ready to return in presidential vote

A rally for the ruling party in Colombo. Photo: Ishara S. Kodikara/AFP via Getty Images

The next president of Sri Lanka will be elected on Saturday, and he will take charge of a country still recovering from April terror attacks that left 277 dead.

Driving the news: The front-runner appears to be Gotabaya Rajapaksa, known for crushing the Tamil Tigers a decade ago as defense minister — allegedly committing war crimes in the process. His brother, Mahinda, was president then and would return as prime minister.

Train fire in Pakistan kills at least 71

Firefighters work to cool down the burnt-out train carriages.
Firefighters cool down the burnt-out train carriages on Oct. 31. Photo: Waleed Saddique/AFP via Getty Images

At least 71 people died Thursday after a cooking stove onboard a train in Pakistan exploded and engulfed multiple carriages in flames, per the New York Times.

Why it matters: Train accidents have become frequent on the country's railways as a result of poor maintenance, corruption and lax safety standards. Pakistani officials recorded at least 80 accidents between July 2018 and July 2019.

Go deeper: Pakistan is harnessing Western media in the wake of the Kashmir crisis