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This Week Around the World

March 28 Makassar, Indonesia: At least 20 people were wounded when two suicide bombers detonated outside of a packed Catholic cathedral on Palm Sunday, according to AP News. Police announced late Sunday they believed one of the attackers was associated with Jemaah Anshorut Daulah or J.A.D., the extremist group accused of carrying out other bombings in 2019 and multiple church attacks in 2018. “The members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the heinous and cowardly terrorist attack that took place at Makassar Church in Makassar,” stated United Nations Security Council President Linda Thomas-Greenfield in a press statement. “The members of the Security Council reaffirmed that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security.”


March 28 Galápagos Islands: Officials discovered 185 baby tortoises in a suitcase headed to Mainland Ecuador, according to The New York Times. The baby tortoises were found wrapped in plastic in a red suitcase. According to Al Jazeera, Nixon Alejandro was arrested on the charge of a crime against wild flora and fauna, which can carry a three-year sentence. “No second thought is given to these people who do so much harm to society, the environment, health and the ecosystem, we will apply the full weight of the law,” Ecuador’s Minister of Environment Marcelo Mata said. “And as Ecuador’s main environmental body, we will be ready to collaborate with prosecutors and other authorities.” 10 of the tortoises were found dead and five more died the following day. 


March 30 Germany: German health officials announced that use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine would be restricted to those under 60 years old following unusual blood clots being found in those that have received the shot, according to AP News. “In sum, it’s about weighing the risk of a side effect that is statistically small, but needs to be taken seriously, and the risk of falling ill with [COVID-19],” said Health Minister Jens Spahn. Germany’s vaccine regulator, the Paul Ehrlich Institute, announced it had registered 31 cases of the rare blood clot in the brain, nine of which led to deaths, according to Al Jazeera. With the new restriction, people under 60 are able to receive the vaccine, however only after a doctor’s recommendation following a risk analysis conversation. 


March 31 Libya: Following Libya’s new unity government taking office in early March, western Libyan authorities have released 105 military leader loyalists who are believed to have surrendered peacefully in 2019. The unity government was established to replace the two rival administrations that had ruled in east and west Libya. According to Reuters, the move to release the prisoners from Khalifa Haftar’s eastern-based Libyan National Army was made to solidify the ceasefire efforts started in October. “The development is a symbol of goodwill so that Libyans can turn the page and move towards bringing the country together after years of division, as we move towards coming elections,” said Malik Traina, a reporter for Al Jazeera. Although the agreement led to a ceasefire between the two major groups, on the local level, many areas are controlled by armed groups that control the country’s oil wealth.


April 2 Hualien County, Taiwan: At least 51 people died after a train carrying over 400 passengers hit a truck and derailed, according to AP News. The train came off its tracks while entering a tunnel heading from the capital of Taipei to the city of Taitung, after hitting a truck that slid off of a nearby road. “People just fell all over each other, on top of one another,” a survivor told a local news channel, as reported by Reuters. “It was terrifying. There were whole families there.” Emergency rescuers were sent to aid survivors after the crash. “In response to a train derailment in Hualien, Taiwan, our emergency services have been fully mobilized to rescue & assist the passengers & railway staff affected,” wrote Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Twitter. “We will continue to do everything we can to ensure their safety in the wake of this heartbreaking incident.”