5 Key World News Stories
At Least 43 Police Officers Killed in Counter-Terrorism Raid in Mindanao
Government officials in the Philippines said Monday at least 43 members of the elite Special Action Force were killed in a counter-terrorism raid, making it the largest single loss of involving Philippine police officers in recent history. The raid was also the first breach of a precarious cease-fire between the government and Muslim rebels from the supposed Moro Islamic Liberation Front splinter group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (Biff). The Moro Islamic Liberation Front has yet to confirm the rebel’s affiliation. An undetermined number of rebels were killed in the raid and “most likely” killed the suspect, officials said.
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front, largely based on the predominantly Muslim southern island of Mindanao, has fought a war for independence from the Christian-dominated national government for more than 30 years. As of March 2014, the conflict had claimed approximately 120,000 lives and displaced more than 2 million people.
The cease-fire agreement granted areas of Mindanao increased political autonomy from the Filipino national government in exchange for an end to armed rebellion. It also called for rebel-held arms to be put “beyond use” by 2016. While the Moro Islamic Liberation Front signed onto the deal, many splinter groups- including Biff, did not.
According to the mayor of the town where the raid took place, police forces did not warm the Moro Islamic Liberation Front of the raid, as they were required to under the terms of the cease-fire agreement. The breach lead the rebel group members to return gunfire, which continued until ceasefire monitors intervened according to local officials.
Egyptian Doctor, Father Convicted and Sentenced for FGM
Egyptian doctor Raslan Fadl was sentenced to 2 years in jail with labor for manslaughter and 3 months for performing female genital mutilation (FGM) and resulting death of 13 year old Sohair al-Bataa by a court in the Nile Delta province of Dakahlia. Al-Bataa’s father received a 3-month suspended sentence for bringing his daughter to the clinic, which has also been closed for 1 year. The conviction overturns a November 2014 aquital by a lower court and is the first since the practice was outlawed in 2008.
The UN estimates more than 90% of Egyptian women aged 15-49 are affected by FGM and the practice continues despite legislation.
Body of Missing Mexican Journalist Moises Sanchez Found After 3 Weeks
Officials in Mexico say the body of missing journalist Moises Sanchez has been found 3 weeks after his abduction from his home in the eastern state of Veracruz on January 2. Sanchez reported on corruption and violence for the weekly La Union in Medellin de Bravo, Veracruz. Veracruz is one the most dangerous Mexican states for journalists according to Mexico’s National Commission on Human Rights.
A former police officer has confessed to participating in the abduction and murder of Sanchez. A prosecutor told reporters the suspect allegedly acted on orders from local mayor Omar Cruz, who is immune from prosecution. The prosecutor hopes to have this immunity withdrawn.
Sanchez’s case has been compared to the disappearance of 42 students from Iguala in the south-western state of Guerro in September.
Municipal police officers confessed to handing over the students to a gang who then killed them. The officers also allege they were acting on the orders of the town’s mayor, Jose Luis Abarca. Abarca denies the charges and being held in a high-security prison in Mexico
Alexis Tsipras Elected Prime Minister of Greece
Anti-austerity Syriza party leader Alexis Tsipras was elected Prime Minister of Greece following the general election, with the governing centre-right New Democracy coming in a far off second place.
Syriza is projected to win 149 parlimentary seats, just 2 shy of an absolute majority. It’s staunch anti-austerity ethos sets the stage for conflict between Greece and the EU regarding the EU-backed Greek bailout terms. Syriza campaigned on the renegotiation of the €240bn bailout and to slow austerity cuts.
While a recent speech by Tsipras promising negotiation and not confrontation for, “a just, mutually beneficial and viable solution,” helped to calm some nerves, tensions are still high. The election results are expected to be a key issue on Monday’s agenda when 19 eurozone finance ministers meet.
Following the announcement of Tsipras’ election, the euro fell to an 11+ year low at $1.1098 against the dollar.
Boko Haram Fighters Continue Attacks in Maiduguri, Capture Monguno on Sunday
Nigerian Islamist Boko Haram forces have attacked the “strategically important” north-eastern city of Maidugrui, killing dozens, after capturing the north-eastern town of Monguno on Sunday.
Boko Haram last tried to take Maidugrui, which is home to large numbers of army barracks, in December 2013. The attack coincides with Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, ahead of an election between current president Goodluck Johnathan and former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari.
In his remarks, Secretary Kerry stated “We are prepared to do more [to counter the Boko Haram threat] but our ability to do more will depend to some degree on the full measure of credibility, accountability, transparency and peacefulness of this election.”
According to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, Boko Haram killed 6,357 civilians in 2014 alone. However, this number is likely to be much higher in 2015. Earlier this month, the group killed more than 2,000 civilians in the course of a single day when they attacked the town of Baga. According to Amnesty International, the majority of the dead are children, elderly people, and women, who could not out-run the fighters as they drove into town shooting grenade launchers.