Afghan Army Outpost Overrun by Taliban Forces
An Afghan army outpost in the eastern Kunar province of Afghanistan was attacked and destroyed by 200 Taliban fighters today. The Third Battalion of the Second Brigade, one of Afghanistan’s most successful U.S.-trained units, was lost, with 13 dead after the outpost was fired upon and then torched. Zabiullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban rebels, took credit for the attack, claiming that 15 soldiers had been killed and that all of their weapons and ammunition had been captured. Second Brigade commander Colonel Hayatullah Aqtash was not fazed by the attack saying, “it is a routine incident. Every day we face such attacks.” In December, the spokesman for the Afghan military General Mohammad Zahir Azimi said, on average, 110 soldiers and 200 policemen have been killed in action each month. He expects these numbers to rise, as the Afghan army takes a more full role in defending the Afghan government from the Taliban and its allies.
Brazil Struggles to deal with uptick in Illegal Immigration
At least 1,700 people have migrated to the Brazilian state of Acre illegally in the last two weeks. The government there was already struggling to cope with the five thousand Haitians who had arrived similarly, since an earthquake devastated Haiti in 2010. State authorities say dealing with the surge in immigration has cost them about $1.5 million. The newcomers arrived via routes through the Amazon rainforest from Peru and Bolivia; the Amazon makes border enforcement nearly impossible. Almost 10% of the population of Brasileia, Acre is made up of immigrants who have arrived in the last 2 years. For most, Acre is not the final destination. A large majority leave their countries of origin to find work in bigger Brazilian cities like Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paolo and can do so in the largely unregulated and booming textile industry there. Nilson Moura, Acre’s justice and human rights secretary, expressed shock at the diversity of immigrants. “I spoke with the Senegalese: We had 53 the day before yesterday, and 70 more arrived today. They travel to Spain, from there to Ecuador. From Ecuador, the coyotes [people-smugglers] bring them here, as well as the Haitians,” he said. Brazil is currently working to legalize the status of Haitian refugees, but the futures for the immigrants from other nations remains unclear.
Chilean Student Protests Resume
Over 100,000 students flooded the streets of Chile yesterday, demanding significant education reform. Police arrested 109 people during the mostly non-violent demonstrations, which local media described as the largest march in Santiago in 20 years. The protest marks the resumption of the 2010-2011 marches aimed at significantly lowering the cost of Chile’s education system. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Chilean families pay more than 75 precent of the cost of education from their own pocket, while U.S. families pay 40 percent, and Scandinavian families pay less than five percent.
While protests died down in 2012 despite few changes in policy, student leader Camila Vallejo believes students are still aggrieved and active. This march “symbolizes that the student and social movement didn’t go home,” she said. The march may also galvanize students during a presidential election year. Indeed, former President Bachelet promised yesterday that if she wins the upcoming elections, she will end for-profit education in Chile: “I believe the education effort must be infinitely more integrating, more inclusive and take care of the quality, of the barriers that block access to financing, of the segregation.”
Boko Haram rejects Amnesty
Boko Haram, a muslim secessionist group in northern Nigeria, has preemptively rejected President Goodluck Jonathan’s amnesty offer. Last week, Jonathan convened a committee to investigate the possibility of granting amnesty to muslim rebels in the northeast, much like his predecessor Umaru Musa Yar’Adua did in 2009 for christian rebels near the Nigerian delta in the south. But Boko Haram’s erstwhile leader Abubakar Shekau has spurned such rapprochement, saying in a statement directed at the Nigerian president, “surprisingly, the Nigerian government is talking about granting us amnesty. What wrong have we done? On the contrary, it is we that should grant you [a] pardon.” Founded in 2003 to oppose western education, Boko Haram is responsible for at least 2800 deaths and dozens of bombings throughout Nigeria in the last five years. But internecine violence has been endemic to Nigeria since the end of the Briafran War in 1970.
Weekend Read: How a Single Spy Helped Turn Pakistan Against the United States
On January 27, 2011 Raymond Davis killed two people in Lahore, Pakistan and altered foreign relations for two nuclear powers. Mark Mazzetti’s investigation in the New York Times.