This Week Around the World

Jan. 28 Beni, Congo: An overnight attack in Beni left dozens dead. Officials first reported 15 casualties, but that number has since gone up. “They were all hacked to death,” Beni Governor Donat Kibwana said in a television statement, according to Al Jazeera. “This brings [the death toll] to 36 bodies.” France 24 reported two people were admitted to the local hospital and underwent surgery for skull fractures caused by machetes. Authorities believe the attack was orchestrated by the Allied Democratic Forces, a rebel militia group which has killed at least 250 people since November 2019.

Jan. 29 Carribean Sea: A 7.7 magnitude earthquake centered between Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and Cuba left no casualties on Jan. 29. While no people were killed, there was significant damage to drainage pipes in some countries, and several sinkholes were created in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. Thousands were evacuated from buildings in fear of potential aftershocks or tsunamis. No tsunami ever came, but several aftershocks, including one with a magnitude of 6.1, did shake the same area overnight. “Our nerves are on edge not knowing if we’re going to be safe or not,” Canadian tourist Andrew Walsh, who was in Jamaica at the time, told TeleSUR. “It is still causing us some anxiety.”

Jan. 28–30 Jerusalem, Israel: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu withdrew his request for immunity from the Knesset on Jan. 28. Netanyahu later said the immunity trial would take too long and he had decided against it, according to Al Jazeera. While Netanyahu was in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 30 to discuss a possible agreement between Israel and Palestine, the Knesset issued an indictment against the prime minister. According to The New York Times, Netanyahu faces bribery, fraud and breach of trust charges. Experts say the trial could last a few months or a few years. “The public interest requires that we live in a country where no one is above the law,” Israeli attorney-general Aichai Mandelblit said in a televised press conference, according to The New York Times. 

Jan. 30 Tokyo, Japan: Japanese prosecutors issued a new arrest warrant for former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn, and three American citizens the government believes assisted Ghosn in fleeing the country prior to his trial. The three American citizens—Michael Taylor, Peter Maxwell Taylor and George Antoine Zayek—are believed to have assisted Ghosn pass immigration checks and board a private plane from Japan to Turkey before he continued into Lebanon. Airport security footage confirmed that the three were at the airport at the same time as Ghosn. Authorities believe Michael Taylor likely met with the former Nissan chairman multiple times in the weeks prior to his escape to Lebanon. The Japanese government has not revealed if it has asked the United States for assistance in the arrest of the three. 

Jan. 30 Bujumbura, Burundi: A court convicted four journalists of attempting to undermine state security and sentenced them to two-and-a-half years in prison. They were also fined approximately $525, according to Reuters. The journalists were employed by IWACU, one of few privately owned media organizations in Burundi. Al Jazeera reported at the time of their arrest in October 2019, the four journalists were working on a story regarding the ADF rebels located in neighboring Congo. According to the prosecution, the journalists were working with the rebels to undermine state security in Burundi. “[The convictions mark] a sad day for the right to freedom of expression and press freedom in Burundi,” human rights organization Amnesty International said in a statement, according to Reuters. “The authorities must quash the conviction and sentences.”

Feb. 1 Moshi, Tanzania: Hundreds of church-goers were involved in a stampede after preacher Boniface Mwamposa poured what he called “holy oil” on the ground. Worshippers rushed to touch the oil, believing it would cure sickness. The stampede resulted in at least 20 dead, including five children. Authorities fear the death toll could rise in coming days and have reported at least 16 more individuals were injured in the incident. Leader of the Arise and Shine Ministry of Tanzania, Mwamposa is a preacher of the “prosperity gospel,” a rising phenomenon throughout many African countries which is believed to cure illness and eradicate poverty, according to The New York Times. Mwamposa was arrested hours after the stampede on Feb. 1, but authorities have not yet released the charges against the preacher.