Suicide bombing attack on Shia cultural center in Kabul kills dozens
- A single suicide bomber infiltrated the Tabian Social and Culture Centre in Kabul’s Dasht-e Barchi neighborhood, leaving more than 40 dead and at least 80 injured.
- The attack took place as a crowd of more than 100 gathered to mark the 38th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
- The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, the latest in a series of more than a dozen since 2016 targeting Shiites that have left more than 700 dead.
“Suicide bombers kill dozens at Shi’ite center in Afghan capital” (Reuters | December 2017)
“ISIS suicide bombing in Kabul kills dozens” (CNN | December 2017)
“Why is ‘Islamic State’ targeting Shiites in Afghanistan?” (Deutsche Welle | December 2017)
Deported Somali immigrants file suit against U.S. for inhumane conditions during removal flight
- The 92 deported individuals were reportedly subjected to physical and psychological abuse during a 48-hour trip intended for Mogadishu, including physical shackling, medication withholding, and lack of restroom access.
- After landing in Dakar, Senegal, the flight was held for nearly 24 hours before eventually returning to the U.S., with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials denying incident.
- The lawsuit seeks to reopen their deportation cases and ensure the future treatment and security of the plaintiffs, with some having lived in the U.S. for decades and fearing retribution by the militant group al-Shabaab given the publicity surrounding the flight.
“Somalis were shackled for nearly 48 hours on failed US deportation flight” (The Guardian | December 2017)
“Somalis faced ‘inhumane’ abuse on US deportation flight” (Al Jazeera | December 2017)
“Somalis faced ‘slave ship conditions’ on failed deportation flight” (Public Radio International, via USA Today | December 2017)
Danish journalists wounded in knife attack in Gabon capital
- Two Danish reporters for National Geographic were wounded after a Nigerien national living in Gabon attacked them with a knife in Libreville.
- The attacker told police the assault was in retribution for the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, although it was unclear if the Danes were mistaken for Americans.
- The attack was reportedly the first of its kind in Gabon, a Christian-majority country with peaceful interfaith relations.
“2 Danish journalists violently attacked in Gabon” (The Associated Press | December 2017)
“Two Danish journalists wounded in Islamist knife attack in Gabon” (Reuters | December 2017)
“Two Danish journalists wounded in Gabon knife attack” (AFP, via France 24 | December 2017)
Suicide bombers kill 9 in attack on church in southwestern Pakistan
- At least 9 were killed and 56 wounded following an attack by two suicide bombers on Bethel Memorial Methodist Church in Quetta, capital of Baluchistan province.
- Nearly 400 had been in attendance for the pre-Christmas service, and authorities say the toll could have been much higher had the attackers reached the sanctuary.
- The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, a part of ongoing targeting of the 2 million Pakistani Christians in the country by both IS and the Pakistani Taliban.
“9 killed in suicide attack on Quetta’s Bethel Memorial Methodist Church” (Dawn.com | December 2017)
“Nine killed in terrorist attack on church in Quetta” (Geo News | December 2017)
“Suicide bombers attack church in Pakistan’s Quetta before Christmas, killing nine” (Reuters | December 2017)
Azerbaijan launches offensive against LGBT citizens
- Dozens were arrested and charged with “resisting police orders” in September according to community activists in the country.
- A state spokesman denied the raids targeted sexual minorities but rather those who “show a lack of respect”, “annoy citizens,” and whom authorities believe to be carriers of infectious diseases.
- The government has framed targeting the LGBT community as protecting community health and defending the “traditional” and “moral” values of Azerbaijan against Western attack, tying the LGBT community to Western encroachment.
“Outcry as Azerbaijan police launch crackdown on LGBT community” (The Guardian | October 2017)
“Azerbaijan: Scale of LGBT Persecution Is Rising – Lawyer” (EurasiaNet | September 2017)
“Gay men and trans women were suddenly rounded up in Azerbaijan. Here’s why.” (The Washington Post | October 2017)
More than a half-million Rohingya flee violence in Myanmar
- Since August, nearly 520,000 Rohingya have crossed the border from their homes in Myanmar into Bangladesh, and dozens—many of them children—have died attempting to reach Bangladesh by boat.
- Refugees spoke of attacks by the military and Buddhist vigilantes, including the burning of villages and physical assaults throughout the state of Rakhine.
- The U.N. has condemned the violence as “ethnic cleansing” on the part of the Burmese state, which targeted Rohingya communities following an attack by Rohingya militants on a military outpost.
“‘I can’t take this any more:’ Rohingya Muslims flee Myanmar in new surge” (Reuters | October 2017)
“Rohingya crisis: Children die as boat capsizes off Bangladesh” (BBC News | October 2017)
“Bangladesh to build one of world’s largest refugee camps for 800,000 Rohingya” (The Guardian | October 2017)
Religious scholars in Afghanistan one of Taliban’s most frequent targets
- Over the last 16 years of war in the country, hundreds and perhaps thousands of ulema have been killed, although official numbers are difficult to track.
- Taliban members surveil sermons to monitor adherence to Taliban interpretations of sharia, both courting and threatening scholars to buttress their power across the nation’s provinces.
- Religious leaders note that the targeting of scholars is driven by anxiety over scholars’ influence on communities, a desire for ideological control, and the suppression of criticism.
“Taliban Target: Scholars of Islam” (The New York Times | May 2017)
“Religious scholar shot dead in eastern Afghanistan” (Andalou Agency | May 2017)
(Image Credit: Jim Huylebroek/The New York Times)