North Korea Threatens War, Closes Border
The North Korean army announced today it has final approval to launch a military strike against the United States. This comes in response to continuing U.S.-South Korean military drills. The North Korean statement cautioned “never has the whole Korean peninsula been exposed to such danger of a nuclear war as today.” North Korea also closed off access to an industrial region that is operated jointly with South Korea. The industrial park lies in the town of Kaesŏng, in North Korea, just north of the extremely fortified border. The Kaesŏng Industrial Region is home to 123 different companies employing more than 1000 South Koreans and tens of thousands of North Koreans. More than 800 South Koreas remain in Kaesŏng. Though the North Korean government has suggested that all of them are free to leave, only 33 have done so. This is the latest in a string of attempts by the North Korean government to sever ties with South Korea, though it is not the first time that access to the Kaesŏng Industrial region has been hampered. In 2010, the North Korean government suspended its participation in Kaesŏng after the Cheonan incident. Access was then restored after U.S.-South Korean joint military exercises concluded.
Putin Signs Law Allowing Him to Choose Governors
Russian president Vladimir Putin has approved a law which allows the President to choose russian governors. Putin released a statement saying this law is needed to protect the rights of minorities in muslim provinces like the North Caucasus. Opponents are calling this a naked power grab. “It’s another lever to manage everything from Moscow,” said opposition leader, Boris Nemtsov. The new rules will allow each regional legislature to vote to end direct popular elections for their governor; instead the legislature will choose from a list of three candidates selected by the Russian President.
53 Dead in Afghan Court Attack
Suicide bombers entered a court in the western Afghan town of Farah, in an attempt to free members of the Taliban who are standing trial. Forty four people were killed in the attack, and nine of the attackers also died. It is not clear whether the attack was successful in its aim to free those on trial, but at least one of the accused remains in custody and is being treated for injuries. More than 100 others were injured in what has been the most deadly attack since 2011.
Hunt for Kony in Question
Yesterday the Ugandan Army suspended its search for Joseph Kony in the Central African Republic (CAR). Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for rape, mutilation, and murder of civilians as well as the use of children as soldiers and sex slaves. His actions stem from a war against the Ugandan government, which lasted decades. Kony is believed to be in CAR, but after rebels ousted former CAR president François Bozizé 10 days ago, the African Union (AU) mandate to find Kony is uncertain. Citing hostility from new government, the Ugandan forces along with U.S. Special Forces advisors returned to their bases. This morning the U.S. government also announced a new $5 million reward for information leading to the capture of Kony.