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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Russia Swabbing Muslim Women

Russia is taking saliva samples from religiously conservative Muslim women, according to locals in the restive North Caucasus region of the Russian Federation, ostensibly gathering DNA so authorities can identify remains, should any become suicide bombers. This comes days after Naida Asiyalova, a Dagestani woman, evidently killed herself bombing a bus in the city formerly known as Stalingrad. Authorities investigating that incident said the woman was related to a slain Dagestani militant. With the upcoming Sochi Winter Olympics, Russia has undertaken massive efforts to clamp down on militants and protestors alike. The Daily Telegraph went so far to describe the proposed measures as “near-total surveillance.” The Federal Security Bureau will monitor all electronic communications in the country, both the metadata and the content. Russian Minister of Interior Vladimir Kolokoltsev defended these wholesale measures, saying, “There are simply no other ways to combat these inhuman monsters.”

Protestors Demand Justice for Kenyan Girl

Seeking justice for a victim of rape, hundreds walked from Narobi, Kenya’s Uhuru Park to the nation’s police headquarters to deliver a petition signed by more than a million people from all over the globe. In July, Liz, a pseudonym to protect the identity of the 16 year-old victim, was savagely assaulted and raped, and then tossed into a latrine and left for dead. Liz was left wheelchair bound with a broken spine and fistula. The six men who allegedly attacked Liz, half of whom she knew personally, were told by the local police to cut grass, then set free. In response to this light punishment, an online petition sprung up asking for “the immediate arrest and prosecution of her rapists and full disciplinary action for the police officers who dismally failed to handle her case.” The chief of staff at the police headquarters received the petition and promised the protesters that the authorities would take action. In the meantime, Liz’s mother says her daughter is traumatized, while her attackers are free to roam the town they share. Kenya’s Daily Nation reports the alleged perpetrators and their parents continue to harass and intimidate Liz and her family.

Migrants Found Dead in the Sahara

The bodies of more than 80 migrants, most of them dead from thirst, have been recovered in northern Niger. Military sources determined the migrants had set off in two trucks from the mining town of Arlit, across the Saharan desert towards Tamanrasset in Algeria, earlier this month. When their vehicles broke down, the group dispersed to find water. A number of people survived the ordeal; 19 members of the group reached Algeria by foot and were deported back to Niger by Algerian authorities. At least one man walked more than 20 miles back to Arlit to inform emergency officials.

A senior military official told Reuters, “We have discovered more than 80 bodies scattered in various locations less than 20 km (12 miles) from the border with Algeria.” Rescue worker Almoustapha Alhacen said the bodies – 52 children, 33 women, and seven men from Niger – were found, some in an advanced state of decomposition and had been partly devoured by animals. Alhacen is haunted by the scene, saying, “It is hard to understand what these women and children were doing there.”

Possible Israeli Strike on Syria

A Syrian air defense base near the port city of Latakia was completely destroyed after an overnight missile strike. According to U.S. officials, the target was a cache of Russian-made SA-125 missiles that some believe the Syrian government was transferring to Hezbollah. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, though a number of Lebanese and Syrian media sources are suggesting Israeli forces were involved. Satellite images of the area, obtained by Israel’s Channel 2, show the Russian-made Neva missiles, as well as a SA-3 missile battery. Such missiles have a range of 35km (22 miles).

While the Lebanese government does acknowledge Israeli Air Force jets flew over its territory on Wednesday afternoon, Israel’s defense establishment has not responded to the report. This is the fifth such airstrike conducted inside Syria this year, each of which has targeted sophisticated missile systems bound for Hezbollah.

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