Global Incidents: 03 Mar 2014
Afghanistan: Prison staff tricked into freeing Taliban fighters.
China: Kunming knife attack.
Guatemala: Thousands facing evacuation as Pacaya volcano erupts.
Libya: MPs shot and wounded as congress stormed.
Nigeria: Many die as militants destroy village.
Pakistan: Deadly attack on Islamabad court.
Ukraine: Russia vows troops will stay in Ukraine.
Many die as militants destroy village: Suspected militants have shot dead at least 39 people in an attack on a village in north-eastern Nigeria. The attackers – believed to be from the Boko Haram group – destroyed the entire village of Mainok, about 50km (30 miles) west of the city of Maiduguri. The incident took place late on Saturday; hours after two bomb blasts killed at least 50 people in Maiduguri. Boko Haram has been conducting a four-year violent campaign to demand Islamic rule in northern Nigeria.
Thousands facing evacuation as Pacaya volcano erupts: A volcano has erupted in Guatemala, prompting the authorities to consider the evacuation of some 3,000 people living in the area. The Pacaya volcano began spewing ash and lava after a powerful explosion on Saturday afternoon. New explosions were seen on Sunday, with ash clouds reaching a height or at least 4km (3 miles). Flights have been diverted from the area, some 50km (30 miles) south of the capital, Guatemala City. The Pacaya is one of three active volcanoes in the Central American nation. The other two are the Fuego and the Santa Maria.
Vigilantes agree not to enter more urban areas: Mexican vigilante groups in the western state of Michoacan have pledged not to enter more cities, municipal seats or other urban areas, authorities said. They made those commitments in a meeting Friday in Apatzingan with the federally appointed commissioner for security and development in Michoacan, Alfredo Castillo, the Government Secretariat said in a statement. These militias will only be present in designated checkpoints, always working jointly with federal forces, and must receive permission from authorities before making “any movements whatsoever,” the statement read.
Thousands protests despite carnival season: Thousands of opposition demonstrators in Venezuela marched through the streets of Caracas on Sunday in new protests against the government. At the end of the march, activists clashed with police in the opposition strongholds of Chacao and Altamira. President Nicolas Maduro extended the traditional carnival holidays until the end of this week and asked Venezuelans to rest and celebrate peace. At least 17 people have been killed in more than three weeks of unrest. Opposition leaders have asked people to ignore the carnival season, when many Venezuelans traditionally go to the seaside. They are demanding the release of dozens of demonstrators and activists arrested since last month, including high-profile politician Leopoldo Lopez. The opposition blames the left-wing policies of Mr Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, for high inflation, rampant crime and the shortage of many staples.
Asia & Pacific
Prison staff tricked into freeing Taliban fighters: Prison officials in Afghanistan’s southern city of Kandahar have been tricked into releasing 12 Taliban fighters. The chief of security for Kandahar, Rahmatullah Atrafi, said a letter had been sent to the prison on Tuesday requesting a prisoner release. Eighteen inmates on the list were due to be freed, but the other 12 were not. The Taliban say they carried out the deception, which was only discovered after the inmates were freed. Officials say two have since been recaptured. The search for the others continues.
Kunming knife attack: Security has been tightened in south-west China’s Kunming following a mass knife attack, as witnesses described horrific scenes at the attack. Several men and women burst into Kunming station, south-west China, on Saturday, stabbing people at random and wounding more than 130. Officials have blamed separatists from the Xinjiang region for the attack. China’s security chief, Meng Jianzhu, has vowed “all-out efforts” to “severely punish terrorists”. Mr Meng condemned the “brutal attack on defenseless, innocent people by violent terrorists” in quotes carried by the state-run Xinhua news agency.
NORTH KOREA (Low-Moderate)
North Korea deports detained Australian missionary: North Korea has deported Australian missionary John Short, who was detained last month after it was reported that he distributed religious material. Mr Short, 75, who has arrived in Beijing from Pyongyang, was detained after apparently leaving Christian pamphlets at a tourist site. The North’s state-run KCNA news agency said he had admitted breaking North Korean law and apologized. It said he was being released partly in consideration of his age. Religious activity is severely restricted in the North and missionaries have been arrested on many previous occasions.
North Korea tests more missiles: North Korea has test-fired two more short-range missiles into the sea off its east coast, South Korean defense ministry officials say, amid ongoing South Korea-US military exercises. Officials in Seoul said the missiles flew more than 500km (300 miles). Pyongyang also test-fired four similar missiles late last week. North Korea often carries out short-range missiles tests to show its anger at military exercises involving its southern neighbor. South Korea and the US began the annual joint exercises on February 24. The drills, which involve thousands of troops, continue until the middle of April. Pyongyang is opposed to the drills and has previously called them “exercises of war”. South Korean officials said that the missiles, launched early on Monday morning, were Scud-C models. They have the range to hit any target in South Korea.
Deadly attack on Islamabad court: At least 11 people have been killed in an attack at a court in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, officials say. Gunmen burst into the court complex and opened fire before at least two suicide bombers detonated explosives, at a time of the morning when crowds gather. A judge and several lawyers are reported to be among those killed and at least 24 people were wounded. No group has said it carried out the attack – one of the deadliest assaults on the capital for years. It comes after a weekend in which the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) pledged a month-long ceasefire and the government said it would suspend air strikes against militants. Both are moves aimed at reviving the stalled peace process.
Europe and FSU
World leaders to boycott G-8 Summit in Sochi: In light of the recent events in Ukraine’s Crimea region, and the deployment of Russian troops, a major boycott of the upcoming G-8 Summit in Russia’s Sochi is expected. “We note that Russia’s actions in Ukraine also contravene the principles and values on which the G-7 and the G-8 operate. As such, we have decided for the time being to suspend our participation in activities associated with the preparation of the scheduled G-8 Summit in Sochi in June, until the environment comes back where the G-8 is able to have meaningful discussion”, the leaders of France, UK, United States, Japan, Germany, Canada, Italy, and the European Commission agreed in a joint statement. On Sunday, Canada was among the first countries to recall its Ambassador to Moscow for consultations and to express its intent to boycott the G-8 Summit in June.
Russia vows troops will stay in Ukraine: Russia has vowed its troops will remain in Ukraine to protect Russian interests and citizens until the political situation has been “normalized”. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia was defending human rights against “ultra-nationalist threats”. Russia is now in de facto military control of the Crimea region, despite Western condemnation of a “violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty”. Ukraine has ordered full mobilization to counter the military intervention. Mr Lavrov said in Geneva on Monday that Russian troops were needed in Ukraine “until the normalisation of the political situation”. Russia’s parliament authorised the use of troops on Saturday, in the wake of the ousting of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych last month. In Kiev, Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said that any attempt to seize Crimea would fail. However, he also said that “for today, no military options are on the table”, urging instead international economic and political support.
Middle East & North Africa
Obama warns Israel’s Netanyahu over peace talk failure: President Barack Obama has warned Israel of “international fallout” if it does not endorse a US framework for a peace deal with the Palestinians. Ahead of talks at the White House, Mr Obama told the Bloomberg news agency that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu needed to “seize the moment”. But Mr Netanyahu reacted defiantly, vowing: “I won’t give in to pressure.” There has been little sign of progress from the direct talks that resumed in July after a three-year hiatus. At the time, Washington said it sought to achieve a deal on a solution to the decades-old conflict by 29 April, but officials say a framework accord on core issues would enable negotiations to continue beyond that date.
Ultra-Orthodox in mass rally over army draft: Hundreds of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews held a mass prayer in Jerusalem on Sunday against plans to conscript more of their young men into the Israeli army. New legislation that would end wholesale exemptions for students at Jewish seminaries is expected to pass in the coming weeks. A draft bill sets quotas for ultra-Orthodox men to join military or civilian public service. Those who refuse could face prison.
MPs shot and wounded as congress stormed: Two members of Libya’s parliament were shot and wounded when protesters stormed the General National Congress (GNC) in the capital, Tripoli. Witnesses said the two were hit as they tried to drive away from the scene. The protesters, who rampaged through the building, were demanding that the GNC be dissolved and a date set for early elections. There have been demonstrations across the country since congress extended its mandate until later in the year. Those who entered parliament on Sunday said they were also angry about the “kidnapping” overnight of demonstrators from a sit-in outside congress. They said those responsible belonged to a former rebel group that operates under the GNC’s command.
WEST BANK / GAZA STRIP (Moderate-High)
Mentally ill woman near Gaza barrier: The Israeli military have shot dead a Palestinian woman who locals say was mentally ill, near the Gaza-Israel security barrier. The area near the border is declared a no-go zone by Israel. The incident happened near the southern city of Khan Younis, late on Friday. Israel says it maintains the buffer zone to prevent attacks by militants. There have been numerous shootings of Palestinians who breach the area in spite of warnings. The Israeli military said the woman was part of a group that ignored orders to leave the area, at which point they fired at the legs of the group, hitting one.