Dreary news from around the world
As Christmas peace descends on those fortunate to live in a peaceful corner of Tellus, it is business as usual, out in the ”real” world.
Death toll rises after an attack on Government buildings in Kabul
43 people have been killed following an attack on Government offices in Kabul, Afghanistan on Christmas Eve, the authorities state. At least ten people are injured.
Most people killed are employees of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, spokesperson Najib Danish in the Interior Ministry reports on Tuesday. 357 other employees were evacuated.
The attack started when a car driven by a suicide bomber was blown up outside the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. Three armed men stormed several Government buildings as the employees were heading home for the day. All three attackers have been killed. A policeman was among the fatalities.
The attack happened a few hours after Pakistan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, was in Kabul to discuss peace in Afghanistan. The minister has condemned the attack.
Pakistan is an active part of the talks between the US and the Taliban. US President Donald Trump has announced that the United States is pulling 7,000 troops out of Afghanistan.
No one has so far assumed responsibility for the attack, which is the 22nd in Kabul since January this year, and one of the most deadly. A total of 510 people have been killed and over one thousand wounded in these attacks.
37 protesters killed in Sudan
The police in Sudan last week killed 37 unarmed protesters during protests against the Government, Amnesty International informs.
The human rights organization refers to “credible reports” and calls security forces’ use of force against unarmed protesters “very disturbing”.
The protests began last Wednesday and were initially aimed at increased bread prices and a lack of food and fuel.
The rage was eventually directed at the country’s long-standing President Omar al-Bashir, who is charged with genocide and war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
On Tuesday, there were clashes between security forces and thousands of protesters trying to march to the Khartoum Presidential Palace claiming Bashir’s resignation.
Videos show that the police used tear gas and fired warning shots into the air against the protesters to prevent them from reaching the palace.
Monday, the United States, Norway, the United Kingdom and Canada expressed concern in a communal statement of “credible reports” that security forces are using live ammunition against the protesters.
The videos show how groups of hundreds of people gathered in the side streets and marching towards the Presidential Palace on the banks of the River Nile in Khartoum.
They sang patriotic songs and shouted slogans with demands for freedom and “peaceful settlement with the thieves”. One of the slogans was one that was common during the so-called Arab spring of 2010 and 2011.
Tear gas and warning shots
Large security forces were deployed throughout Khartoum on Tuesday to prevent demonstrations. Despite the tear gas and the warning shots, the protesters gathered over and over again to continue the march, often in brawls with the security forces.
Two of the country’s largest parties, Umma and the Democratic Union, are behind the protests, and the protesters have tabled a call where they demand that Bashir resigns and relinquishes the power to a transitional Government consisting of technocrats.
The petition states that the protesters will use all available peaceful means to remove Bashir, including a general strike and civil disobedience.
Force used in the past
The military made it clear on Sunday that they stand behind Bashir and stresses that they are acting in unison with the security forces and Bashir’s dreaded secret police.
Bashir has been in power since he, together with the country’s Islamists, overthrew an elected, but ineffective, Government way back in 1989.
He has also previously given the security forces orders to use excessive force against protesters, including during the previous round of protests in January this year
A suicide attack against the Libyan Foreign Ministry
Three people were killed and at least ten were injured when armed men stormed the Foreign Ministry in Libya’s capital Tripoli on Christmas Day.
According to local media, three attackers entered the building and one of them has triggered a suicide vest.
Another attacker was killed when he triggered a bomb hidden in a suitcase, while the third was killed in a gunfight with guards in the building.
A fourth attacker triggered a car bomb near the Ministry shortly before the attack, a security source reports.
Libya has been characterised by chaos and anarchy since rebels with air support from Norway and other NATO countries in 2011 overthrew Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.
Today, the country has rival governments and national assemblies and numerous militia groups are fighting for power and territories.
Riots in Tunisia after journalist set fire to himself
The police in Tunisia used tear gas against protesters after a journalist set fire to himself and died of the injuries.
The 32-years-old journalist Abdel Razaq Zorgi died late Monday night after setting himself on fire at Kasserine, 27 kilometres southwest of Tunisia’s capital, allegedly protesting against unemployment and deteriorating living conditions.
This triggered protests where protesters blocked off streets and set fire to car tires. Large security forces moved in and used tear gas, and it came to heavy confrontations. Six members of the security forces were injured and twelve protesters were arrested.
The Arab Spring started when vegetable seller Mohammed Bouazizi set fire to himself in the Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid on December 17th, 2010.
Kasserine was one of the cities where it first came to protest actions, which later spread and ended with the dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s fall
Eight killed during a bus hijacking in China
Eight people were killed and 22 injured when a hijacked bus ploughed into a crowd in eastern China on Christmas Day.
The bus was hijacked on Tuesday afternoon by a man armed with a knife in Longyan in the Fujian province, reports local media.
The hijacker drove the bus through the crowd for 300-400 metres before the bus finally stopped.
The 48-years-old man from Longyan allegedly beforehand attacked a woman inside the bus. He was later apprehended by the police.
It is unclear whether anyone was killed inside the bus or if all the victims were hit by the bus.
The hijacker’s motive is unknown, but Chinese television reports that the background for the hijacking may have been a trivial disagreement with a local neighbourhood committee.
Students perish in a bus accident in Tehran
Seven students lost their lives and 28 were injured when a bus fell over in the compound of the Azad University in Iran’s capital, Tehran.
The university is located on the outskirts of Tehran at the foot of the Elburz Mountains, but the cause of the bus accident is unknown.
About 17,000 people annually lose their lives in traffic in Iran, which has over 80 million inhabitants.
Poor road standards, old vehicles in a bad state and inadequate ambulance service are to blame for many of the deaths.
27 killed in bus crash in Congo
At least 27 people perished and 17 were injured when a bus and a truck collided south-west of Congo’s capital, Kinshasa, on Christmas day.
The accident happened in Kisantu, about 200 kilometres from the capital. According to the police, high speed was likely the cause of the collision.
The state of six of the injured is critical according to the health authorities.
In October, another 53 persons died when two trucks collided in a village near Kisantu in Congo.
Mexican senator and governor dies in a helicopter accident
Mexican Governor Martha Erika Alonso and her husband, Senator Rafael Moreno, did not survive a helicopter accident on Monday.
According to the Mexican newspaper Reforma, the helicopter took off from Puebla de Zaragoza and crashed in Huejotzingo, about 30 kilometres from the city.
It is not confirmed whether the pilot perished as well as the politicians.
Alonso was the governor of the state of Puebla, where her husband has also been governor in the past.
Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador tweeted his condolences to the victims’ family after the accident.