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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Egyptian Police Station Bombed

A suicide bomber detonated a car packed with explosives at a police headquarters in Mansoura, 80 miles north of Cairo, killing at least 14 people and injuring over 100 more. It is Egypt’s deadliest bombing since militants began a campaign of attacks against security services after the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi.

No group has claimed responsibility for the bombing, and the Muslim Brotherhood has released a statement condemning the attack. Nevertheless, officials have sought to pin the blame on the Brotherhood, and may officially declare it a “terrorist organization.”

Mass Graves Found in South Sudan

UN investigators have discovered a mass grave containing 75 bodies of ethnic Dinka soldiers in the rebel-held town of Bentiu, capital of Unity state. At least three mass graves have been reported so far – the two others are in the country’s capital, Juba. This is the first time the UN has reported mass graves in the country.

President Salva Kiir announced that government forces had retaken the key town of Bor, although the UN could not confirm this. Today, the top UN humanitarian coordinator in South Sudan said that thousands of people have been killed in the past week, with aid workers speculating there might be tens of thousands of fatalities.

The Security Council has approved a plan to almost double the number of peacekeepers in the country.

Assad’s Secret Oil Lifeline

The government of President Bashar al-Assad has been receiving substantial imports of Iraqi crude oil via an Egyptian port over the last nine months. An investigation by Reuters shows that millions of barrels of crude oil delivered to Assad’s government on Iranian ships has actually come through Iraq, via Lebanon and Egyptian trading companies, despite these countries’ restrictions on assisting his government.

It’s extremely lucrative, as the companies demand a steep premium in return for the risk of shipping to Syria. This under-the-radar oil trade has kept Assad’s military running despite Western sanctions.

Battle with Boko Haram After Kidnappings

At least 70 people are said to have been killed when Nigerian forces attacked Islamist militants who raided on a barracks last Friday and kidnapped soldiers’ wives and children. The Nigerian military often uses this tactic to get wanted suspects to turn themselves in, and Boko Haram warned it would do the same.

The military claimed it had killed 50 Islamists, while 15 of its own soldiers and 5 civilians also died, but it is notorious for fudging the number of casualties. The bodies of those killed while attacking the barracks have been left to rot in the open, with residents too scared to bury them lest they be seen as collaborators.

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