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This Week Around the World Aug. 23-29

August 23 Ghazni, Afghanistan: A roadside bomb detonated in Afghanistan, leaving three women, two children and two men dead. No group immediately claimed responsibility. The most recent bomb detonation came soon after talks between the Kabul government and the Taliban stalled, because the government refused to release the last 320 Taliban prisoners until the group freed more soldiers. According to a July report by the United Nations, at least 1,282 civilians were killed in acts of violence in the first six months of 2020, with hundreds more wounded, according to AP News


August 24 Durban, South Africa: A massive fire engulfed the second floor of the historic 139-year-old Grey Street Mosque in Durban, South Africa. The fire also damaged three adjacent buildings, according to authorities. The Grey Street Mosque is one of the largest mosques in the southern hemisphere. Firefighters brought the fire under control before it reached the prayer area on the ground floor. “It’s presumed to have been accidental, and not to have been any foul play,” Faisal Suliman, chairman of the South African Muslim Network, said in a statement. Authorities initially said the cause of the blaze was unclear. 


August 25 Barcelona, Spain: Lionel Messi announced he would invoke a clause in his contract with the Barcelona soccer club which would allow him to leave before his contract expires, with no transfer fee. The soccer club would receive no compensation if Messi was picked up by another team. The decision came just one week after Barcelona lost a Champions’ League quarter final against Bayern Munich in an 8-2 match. “He’s been fiercely loyal and [Barcelona’s] greatest ever player,” former England and Barcelona striker Gary Lineker said on Twitter. “It would be terribly sad if it finished with a fight between the player and the club.”


August 25–26 Maharashtra, India: At least 13 people were left dead after an apartment building collapsed in the state of Maharashtra, India. After a search and rescue operation that lasted over 28 hours, 76 people were rescued alive and at least six remain unaccounted for. “We had just gone a few meters from the building and we heard a loud noise,” said Shabana Lora, a resident who fled the building with her three daughters when it began to shake. “Then there was smoke everywhere. The building collapsed a few seconds after we ran out,” she told Al Jazeera. The building held 47 apartments and approximately 200 residents at the time of the collapse. 


August 28 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Brazil’s Superior Court of Justice (STJ) ordered that Wilson Witzel be removed from his post as governor of Rio de Janeiro for six months due to irregularities in the management of public funds during the COVID-19 pandemic. Arrest warrants for 17 people were issued in connection to a criminal network—allegedly structured within the regional government—designed to benefit individuals in high political offices and big businesses. TeleSUR reported the STJ believes officials, politicians and businesspeople are involved in the network. On Aug. 28, authorities carried out a total of 83 raids against Witzel and his wife. 


August 29 North Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo: Ngoyi Primary School was holding exams when it was attacked by a group of unidentified gunmen. Due to safety concerns, the army protects schools holding exams in the region, according to Al Jazeera. A shootout between the gunmen and law enforcement authorities quickly broke out. At least two students and one teacher were killed in the attack. Multiple teachers were also kidnapped by the gunmen, who remain unidentified.