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This Week Around the World

July 7 Baqershahr, Iran: A factory explosion caused by “human error” left two dead and three injured in Iran, according to Voice of America. The Sepahan Boresh factory, located south of Tehran, experienced an explosion that authorities have attributed to the employees’ mishandling of oxygen tanks. “The explosion that was caused by some workers’ negligent handling of oxygen tanks…was so powerful that the walls of a factory nearby were also totally destroyed,” local official Amin Babai said in a statement regarding the incident, according to Al Jazeera. The Boresh factory explosion is the latest in a series of fires and explosions across Iran that have occurred over the last two weeks. According to Daily Mail, there has been speculation that Israel was responsible for at least one of the explosions, but there has been no claim of responsibility. 


July 7 Niger Delta, Nigeria: An explosion at the Gbetiokun OML 40 oil field occurred while workers were installing a new ladder on the platform. The incident killed seven workers, but all other employees of the oilfield have been accounted for, according to Voice of America. “Detailed investigation of the cause of the explosion has commenced, while the Department of Petroleum Resources has been duly noted,” the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation said in a statement. It is not yet known if the company’s oil production will be affected by the explosion. 


July 7–9 Peru: A helicopter carrying four crew members and three passengers disappeared over the Amazon region of Peru on July 7 while on a humanitarian mission to deliver food to the indigenous community of Chijia, located near the Peru-Ecuador border. After a two day search and rescue operation carried out by Peru’s Air Force (FAP), authorities discovered the remains of all seven people. They later announced they would open a full investigation into the incident to determine the cause of the crash. “The Peruvian Air Force expresses its heartfelt condolences to the families of our brace airmen who until the end fulfilled the mission of bringing hope and help to those who most needed it,” the FAP said in a statement on Twitter. 


July 8 Northern Burkina Faso: Mass graves discovered just outside the town of Djibo revealed at least 180 bodies. Human Rights Watch called it a “killing field” and claimed “available evidence suggests government forces were involved in mass extrajudicial executions.” The bodies were found in groups of up to 20 under bridges, in fields and in abandoned lots. Some were blindfolded while other bodies had their hands tied behind their backs. “The bodies I saw appeared in the morning…dumped at night on the outskirts of Djibo, a town under the control of the army and in the middle of a curfew imposed and patrolled by the army,” a community leader told Human Rights Watch, according to BBC. 


July 10 Istanbul, Turkey: Following a court’s decision that the 1934 conversion of the Hagia Sophia mosque to a museum and UNESCO World Heritage Site was illegal, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the museum would be reopening as a mosque and would be open for Muslim worship beginng on July 24. Originally founded as an Orthodox Christian cathedral in the sixth century, the Hagia Sophia was later converted to a mosque in 1453 after the Ottoman conquest. Turkey has faced international criticism from religious and political leaders who do not approve of the conversion of the Hagia Sophia back to a mosque. According to BBC, UNESCO said it has “deep regrets” about the decision and called on Turkey to “open a dialogue without delay.”

July 11 Johannesburg, South Africa: An attack on the International Pentecost Holiness Church resulted in five people killed, at least 40 arrested and the seizure of over 40 weapons including rifles, pistols and shotguns. The International Pentecost Holiness Church is one of the largest and richest churches in South Africa, but has been in disarray since the former church leader died in 2016. Since then, there have been a number of violent incidents including a shootout in 2018. The authorities believe the attack on July 11 “may have been motivated by a feud” between church members.