Entries in Violence (32)


Iraqi Prime Minister Calls for Unity While Violence Escalates

Photo by Iraqi Prime Minister office via Getty Images(BAGHDAD) -- With sectarian-style violence hitting too close to home, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki tried putting on a display of much needed national unity during a press conference in Baghdad Tuesday.

Since late April, terrorist bombings have picked up in intensity throughout the country with hundreds of fatalities and fears that Iraq could be headed back to the days when Shiites and Sunnis engaged in open warfare following the deposal of dictator Saddam Hussein.

As Maliki himself has been criticized for marginalizing Sunnis and Kurds, the leader gathered his top ministers and leading Sunni politicians "to send a message of reassurance that all are in agreement on shouldering their responsibility in confronting the outlaws regardless of their affiliation, sect or political party they belong to."

In perhaps his toughest pronouncement since the current crisis began, the prime minister vowed, "We will chase down all the illegal militias and armed gangs that want to instigate a wave of societal fighting. As far as we are concerned this constitutes a red line."

Al Qaeda militants have taken advantage of this period of uncertainty by launching more deadly bomb attacks.  Even before al-Maliki spoke, an explosion at a bus stop in Baghdad's teeming Sadr City slum killed six people and wounded 20.

This followed Monday's barrage of bombings in the capital that left nearly 70 people dead and hundreds wounded.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


High Turnout for Historic Election in Pakistan Despite Violence

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(ISLAMABAD) -- Pakistan will make history on Saturday when up to millions of Pakistanis showed up at the polls to mark the first democratic transition in the nation's history.

Pakistan, technically a democracy, has been led by President Asif Ali Zardari, an ex-convict, since 2008. Zardari's wife, former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, was assassinated in 2007. Before Bhutto, the country was led by a military general who took power by kicking out the previous prime minister, Mian Nawaz Sharif.

In pre-election polls, Sharif was considered a serious contender to rise from the ashes and reclaim power in Saturday's election.

Despite bomb blasts that have killed at least 16 people, over 86 million Pakistanis showed up to vote on Saturday.

The outcome of Saturday's election will have far-reaching impacts, including on the United States' war on terror. The leading candidates have criticized the war on terror, with Sharif calling for a complete rethinking of the war. His opponent has said he would pull Pakistan out of the war completely.

Whichever candidate wins, when the votes are counted, Pakistan will have a new government. Despite the explosions and Taliban threats, the country will have changed hands from one civilian government to another purely through democratic means for the first time ever.  

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Hours After President Obama Leaves, Explosions Rattle Kabul

The White House(KABUL) -- Just hours after President Barack Obama delivered his pre-dawn, prime time speech Wednesday in Kabul marking the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death and reaffirming his commitment to fulfill the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, at least two major explosions rocked the capital, killing seven.

The Taliban claimed credit for the attacks, which began with a suicide car bomb that went off near Jalalabad Road at 6 a.m. Wednesday and was followed by a much larger explosion two hours later. Taliban leaders told media that they targeted Green Village, a heavily fortified compound home to many westerners including U.S. Department of Defense contractors.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told The Wall Street Journal that the attack was a direct response to Obama’s visit.

“This delivers a message to President Obama that he is not welcome in Afghanistan,” Mujahid said. “When he is in Afghanistan, we want him to hear the sound of explosions. Afghanistan does not want his imposed strategy.”

At least 17 people were also wounded in the blasts, the majority of whom were children on their way to school, according to the Interior Ministry.

In the aftermath of the explosions, well-trained contractors and private security forces reportedly defended the facility against insurgent rocket-propelled grenades. At this hour, the firefight is ongoing and it is unclear to what extent the compound has been compromised.

The U.S. Embassy posted an Emergency Advisory to U.S. Citizens warning of an ongoing attack in Kabul, telling U.S. citizens to take shelter immediately. This followed an earlier tweet from @USEmbassyKabul: “Duck and cover here at the embassy. Not a drill—avoid the area.”

The U.S. Embassy remains on lockdown and has cancelled all appointments for Wednesday.

Green Village was also the target of protests following the burning of Qurans at a U.S. base in February but protesters were unable to breach the compound’s high walls.

ISAF has not released any casualty numbers, but the Kabul Police Chief, General Ayoub Salangi, tells ABC News that at least six people were killed including a Gurkha guard and an Afghan student.

TOLO News showed images of flames coming out of smoldering cars.

President Obama left Kabul Wednesday roughly two hours before the attacks began and had cleared Afghan airspace by daylight.

Afghan Security Forces released a statement Wednesday saying that it led a capable and quick response in containing and then killing all attackers.

“This is another desperate attack by the Taliban, but again another noteworthy performance by Afghan Security Forces for taking the lead in putting down another desperate attack by insurgents,” General Carsten Jacobson, spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force said. “Another attack by the insurgency that resulted in the deaths of innocent Afghan civilians, with most of that being children from a nearby school.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Spring Break Travel Warning: Mounting Violence in Mexico

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- As spring break nears, the U.S. government is warning Americans to stay out of much of Mexico because of rising drug-cartel violence -- and tells travelers to one of Mexico's most popular beach destinations to stay close to their hotels.

A newly expanded travel warning from the State Department says that U.S. travelers should avoid four entire states, as well as large areas of ten others, most in the north and west of the country.

The most popular destination affected by the warning is Acapulco, where the State Department urged Americans not to travel more than two blocks inland from the boulevard that runs along the popular beaches.

"We strongly advise you to lower your profile and avoid displaying any evidence of wealth that might draw attention," says the warning.

A warning issued last April listed 10 states as areas to avoid, but the State Department said the expanded warning, and stronger language, are a response to a rising level of drug-related violence that has claimed American victims, with crimes including "homicide, gun battles, kidnapping, car jacking and highway robbery."

According to the State Department, the number of U.S. citizens reported murdered in Mexico increased from 35 in 2007 to 120 in 2011. The death toll, coupled with the rising number of kidnappings and disappearances in the country, led the Department to take a stronger stance.

In its warning, the U.S. instructs travelers to "defer non-essential travel" to the states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango and Tamaulipas, as well as parts or most of Nuevo Leon, San Luis Potosi, Sinaloa, Sonora, Zacatecas, Aguascalientes, Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacan and Nayarit.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Egypt Begins Mourning Those Killed, Injured in Soccer Clashes

AFP/Getty Images(PORT SAID, Egypt) -- Three days of national mourning were declared in Egypt Thursday after 74 people were killed and 1,000 others were injured in violent clashes that erupted at the end of a soccer match the day before.

In what has been described as the worst violence in the country since the riots that led to the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak a year ago, fans of the Masry soccer club rushed the field in the city of Port Said following a 3-1 victory over the favored Ahly club.  Bloody clashes between the two rival groups of fans ensued, with many dying or suffering from blunt trauma to the head.

In response, the Egyptian parliament and cabinet are holding emergency meetings. A protest march is also planned.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mexican Officials: Drug War Death Toll at More than 47,000

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(MEXICO CITY) -- The Mexican government Wednesday released its latest tally of deaths from drug-related violence.  The report says 47,515 people have been killed since President Felipe Calderon began a crackdown on drug cartel activity in 2006, according to The New York Times.

The report also shows drug-related murders increased 11 percent from January 2011 to September of that same year when compared to the same period in 2010, the Times reports.

But, the newspaper notes, experts criticize the Mexican government's apparent shortcomings in developing an adequate tracking system for trends in the country's crime, and say the newest data may be inaccurate.

"Since there are very few actual investigations, those [numbers] are approximations at best," Eric Olson, a security expert at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for scholars in Washington, told The New York Times.  Olson added that there is no real way of knowing if counted murders were actually connected to organized crime or drug trafficking at all.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Egypt's Military Council Apologizes to Women Following Violence

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(TEL AVIV, Israel) -- A few days after video of a woman being stripped and beaten by the government military in Egypt hit the Internet, women took to the streets in protest, and now, the ruling military council has issued an apology.

On Tuesday, thousands of Egyptian women turned out in Cairo -- in what could possibly be the largest women's protest ever in the country -- to rally against the military's treatment of women during recent violence.  The demonstration came on the heels of several days of intense and bloody clashes.

One image of the violent crackdown has highlighted the brutality and has drawn global condemnation -- that of a veiled Muslim woman stripped bare as a soldier stomped on her chest.

In a rare move, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces issued a statement Wednesday, saying: "The Supreme Council express its great regret to the great women of Egypt for the violations that took place during the recent events, in the demonstrations that took place at the parliament and the ministers' council, and reassure its respect and appreciation for Egyptian women and their right in protesting and their active positive participation in the political life."

The ruling military council added that, "all legal measures have been taken to hold accountable all those responsible for these violations."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Syria Uprising: More than 100 Killed Monday?

Hemera/Thinkstock(DAMASCUS) -- On the same day that Syria signed a deal to allow Arab League observers into the country, activist groups are reporting that more than 100 people were killed. If their estimate proves to be accurate, Monday would be one of the bloodiest days in the nine-month uprising.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights – based on one eyewitness account -- said that 60-70 would-be defectors were mowed down by machine gun fire as they fled their posts in the northern Idlib province; another group, the Syrian Revolution General Commission told the BBC that that number was 72. Activists say another 30-40 civilians were killed across the country on Monday.

The Syrian government has not responded to these claims.

Here is the statement from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights:

A defected soldier has told the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that dozens of defected soldiers were killed today in gunfire by machine guns. They were killed while trying to run away from their military positions on the way between the villages of Kensafra and Kefer Quaid, in Zawyia Mountain, in Idlib district. He added that the Syrian authorities have dragged the bodies of the soldiers. The defected soldier who was wounded himself said that almost 60-70 soldiers were killed.

The death toll of civilians for today Monday 19 December 2011 has risen to 40 martyrs for whom we have their identity records and circumstances of death. 11 people were killed in Daraa and another 9 in Idlib including 2 children. Also, 3 people were fallen martyrs in the neighbourhood of Al-Meedan in Damascus, 3 martyrs were fallen in Deir Ezzor and 13 in Homs. And a person was killed in Hama under torture.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Hillary Clinton Calls for Respect of Egyptians' Rights as Violence Persists

FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on Egyptian security forces Sunday to, “respect and protect” the rights of all Egyptians, including the rights to, “peaceful free expression and assembly.”

The call came in the wake of three days of violence in Cairo between military police officers and civilians that left at least 11 dead and hundreds more injured.

The clashes began Friday when military police officers used electric prods and clubs to clear out a small group of citizens conducting a sit-in against the country’s military rule. Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in response.

As people in the streets clash, there appears to be a separate propaganda battle brewing between Egypt’s state-run television and the country's independent media.

State-run television presented a news report Sunday that suggested the protesters who died of bullet wounds had been shot by infiltrators in their ranks, not by security forces.  The New York Times says the government-controlled television also interviewed people it claimed were protesters who had been paid by liberals to attack the military.

The Times reports independent newspapers and satellite channels have reported numerous abuses by military officers and unprovoked attacks on civilians.  Videos posted on YouTube show government forces shooting into crowds and chasing down and beating civilians. In one video, military police are seeing dragging a woman and ripping off her clothes while kicking and stomping her.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Is Egypt Going Through a Second Revolution?

KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images(CAIRO) -- Tahrir Square in Cairo was ground zero for the Egyptian uprising earlier this year that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak, and this past weekend, it was once again the center of unrest as thousands of protesters unhappy with the country’s interim military leadership clashed violently with police and soldiers.

Civilian police and Egyptian soldiers burned down protesters’ tents and used clubs, tear gas and rubber bullets in a two-day effort to clear the square just one week ahead of the start of planned parliamentary elections.  Egypt’s health ministry said at least 20 people were killed and over a thousand injured in the weekend violence.

The cabinet running Egypt’s interim government -- the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces -- has faced incidents of unrest and condemnation since taking power from Mubarak, but various opposition groups now appear to be united in their demand for the end of military rule and an accelerated move to a civilian government.

Parliamentary elections are scheduled to begin next Monday, but they are not expected to be completed until March.  The military has already stated it intends to retain power until long after the voting is completed.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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