This Week Around the World: Oct. 28–Nov. 4

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Oct. 28 Chongqing, China: A bus crashed into the Yangtze River when it swerved into the opposite lane, hitting one car before plunging off a bridge. The incident started when one of the passengers, surnamed Liu, became angry with the driver, Ran, who would not let her off after her stop was missed. Liu started hitting Ran with her phone, prompting Ran to respond. He lost control and swerved off the road, falling 164 feet into the river. A search and rescue mission was deployed and the bus was retrieved from the river on Oct. 31. However, 13 of those on board have been confirmed dead with two still missing. Dashcam footage from an oncoming vehicle shows the bus plunging into the river, while video from inside the bus was retrieved detailing the fight.

Oct. 29 Java Sea: A plane traveling between the Indonesian islands of Jakarta and Sumatra crashed into the Java Sea just 13 minutes after departure; of the 189 on board, no survivors were found. The Lion Air flight had just left when pilots requested permission from air traffic control to return to Jakarta. Contact was lost shortly after at 6:30 a.m., with Flightradar24 showing its path ending abruptly over the sea. The National Search and Rescue Agency was deployed, and wreckage from the Boeing 737 MAX 8 including seats and debris was found. No cause has been determined. However, Lion Air is known to have a history of similar incidents, the latest being in April 2018 when one of their flights was evacuated after skidding on the runway during heavy rains.

Oct. 29 Taif, Saudi Arabia: Relations between Indonesia and Saudi Arabia have been strained after the kingdom executed Tuti Tursilawati, an Indonesian national given the death sentence in 2011 after killing her employer in 2010. Tursilawati was working inside her employer’s home as a domestic servant when he allegedly attempted to rape her. Tursilawati claims she was acting in self-defense. Over 9 million migrant workers live inside the kingdom. Human Rights Watch reports predominantly women domestic workers routinely face abuse from their employers under the kafala system, a type of sponsorship found in the Gulf where employers may confiscate passports or withhold wages, among other things. Tursilawati’s family was not notified of her execution, and Jakarta has filed an official protest against Saudi Arabia.

Oct. 31 Farah, Afghanistan: All 25 passengers are dead after an army helicopter traveling from Farah to the neighboring province of Herat crashed, according to Al Jazeera. While officials say the helicopter crashed into a mountain after losing control in poor weather conditions, a spokesperson with the Taliban has claimed the helicopter was shot down. The helicopter was one of two on its way to Herat carrying senior army officials.

Oct. 31 Nigeria: According to Democracy Now, militant group Boko Haram killed at least 15 people after attacking villages near Maiduguri, including Bulaburin, Kofa and a camp with 10,000 internally displaced peoples in the Dalori village. As reported by Al Jazeera, members of the militant group arrived late on Oct. 31, opening fire on the villages and IDP camp, looting food supplies and setting fire to buildings while also firing grenades. Boko Haram has killed 20,000 people since 2009, with the area around Maiduguri targeted multiple times.

Oct. 31 Arkhangelsk, Russia: Russia’s Federal Security Service building was the target of a suicide blast when a teenage boy detonated his explosive in the lobby, killing himself while injuring three others. The explosion occurred at 9 a.m., though seven minutes prior, a message appeared on the application Telegram warning of the attack. “I will most likely croak in the blast. I wish you a bright future of anarchist communism,” said the poster signed Valeryan Panov. “The reasons are quite clear to you. I have decided to do this because the FSB has gone fucking mad. It is inventing cases and torturing people.” Though the assailant has not been named, an anonymous official told Agents France-Press via Al Jazeera they believe the attacker was Mikhail Zhlobitsky, a student at a nearby college.

Nov. 1 New York City, U.S.: The UN General Assembly has condemned the U.S. embargo on Cuba, with 189 countries voting in favor of the resolution. Only two countries voted against—the U.S. and Israel—while Moldova and Ukraine abstained. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley expressed her disfavor with the outcome, saying the embargo is intended to combat the country’s human rights violations. “You’re literally hurting the Cuban people by telling the regime that their treatment of their people is acceptable,” Haley said. Though the resolution does not allow for the U.S. embargo to be forcibly halted, the vote reflects global outlooks on Cuba–U.S. relations.

Nov. 2 Egypt: The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for an attack targeting Coptic Christians en route to a monastery located in the city of Minya, as reported by Al Jazeera. Militants fired on the bus carrying visitors as they arrived near the Saint Samuel Coptic Christian monastery, killing at least seven and injuring 14. The Copts are a sect of Orthodox Christianity unique to Egypt, as well as parts of Africa and the Middle East, who—at 10 percent of Egypt’s population—comprise the largest religious minority in the country.

Ongoing – U.S.-Mexico border; Central America: In response to the migrant caravan of people fleeing violence and poverty in Central America, President Donald Trump announced Oct. 31 the deployment of 7,000 military troops to the U.S.-Mexico border as part of Operation Faithful Patriot. However, migrants who are mostly coming from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala are still some 700 miles away from the Texas border and some 2000 miles from California, according to Business Insider. Trump has called the caravan an invasion while calling on military to use lethal force against anyone throwing stones, as reported by Canadian news outlet Global News.

Ongoing – Pakistan: Protests continue throughout Pakistan in the wake of a high-profile case dismissed on Oct. 31. The Supreme Court decided to acquit Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman who spent eight years on death row for charges of blasphemy following an argument between herself and two Muslim women. Initially, the women refused to drink from the same container as Bibi due to her religion. Bibi was then accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad, a crime which under Pakistani law may constitute the death penalty. Major protests consisting of thousands of demonstrators and even blockades have taken place in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and other cities. One Muslim scholar told a crowd, “Hang the accursed Aasia, and you may still be saved.”

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