This weekend, at least 28 people were killed in a terrorist attack at an upscale hotel in Burkina Faso. According to reports, four Al Qaeda militants took more than 120 hostages before local forces were able to kill the terrorist and free the building. Among the victims was 45-year-old Christian missionary Mike Riddering who help run an orphanage supported by the ministry Sheltering Wings in a town not far from the hotel. In a Facebook statement, his wife wrote, “Heaven has gained a warrior. Mike was an example in the way he lived and loved.” The State Department also released a statement, saying, “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time, as they are with all those affected by this brutality.” Discuss
Just a week after the World Health Organization declared that known transmissions of Ebola “have been stopped in West Africa," at least 100 people were quarantined in Sierra Leone following the death of a woman infected with the virus. The 22-year-old’s death is particularly concerning to officials, because it appears that locals did not observe protocols put in place to stop the disease from spreading. In addition to living in close quarters to 22 other people, several individuals washed her corpse, putting themselves in danger of contracting Ebola. The outbreak of the virus last year killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa. Discuss
Five American citizens have reportedly been released by Iran as part of a prisoner swap. Among the five men are Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, Christian pastor Saeed Abediniand and an American military veteran. In exchange, the U.S. will release seven Iranian citizens who were being held on charges that they violated sanctions, and charges against 14 others—who were not extradited—will be dropped. The deal comes as the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog prepares to announces whether or not the country is within compliance of a nuclear agreement they struck earlier this summer.
The case of Iranian-American Pastor Saeed Abedini was well-known in some Christian circles. He ran an orphanage in the country and was imprisoned after allegedly helping to lead illegal underground Christian house churches in the country. He’d been held since 2012. Along with campaigns from church groups, Amnesty International also petitioned for his release, saying that he was a “prisoner of conscience,” jailed for peacefully exercising basic human rights, like the right to assemble. His wife, Naghmeh Abedini, confirmed the news of his release, telling The Washington Post, “[Our children] were shocked. You can probably hear them now, jumping up and down, asking ‘When are we going to see him?’ It’s been a time of rejoicing.” Back in November, Naghmeh Abedini temporarily stopped being active on social media (she had long used social media to advocate for her husband’s release), and wrote an email to supporters saying that she suffered abuse in their marriage, though she later said she regretted the admission, adding that they were written during a time of "great psychological and emotional distress." Discuss
Earlier today, several terrorist militants opened fire in the streets of Indonesia’s capital city of Jakarta, while also detonating bombs during the midday attack. At least 19 people were injured and seven—including five of the suspects—were killed. According to a BBC report, ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack. As several outlets have noted, the brazen nature of the shootings were similar to the ISIS attack on Paris in November. A law enforcement spokesperson said the terrorists mainly targeted police officers and foreigners in the city. In a statement, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said, ”We all are grieving for the fallen victims of this incident, but we also condemn the act that has disturbed the security and peace and spread terror among our people.” Discuss
Remember last Friday when news circulated that North Korea tested a hydrogen bomb—but it was actually a nuclear bomb? Well now experts are saying there was not a bomb at all. According to Middlebury Institute's James Martin Centre for Nonproliferation Studies, footage aired on North Korean state television was faked. In fact, experts in South Korea's military announced on Saturday—just a day after the blast—that they think North Korea edited footage from a 2014 Scud missile test. The Centre for Nonproliferation Studies looked at two frames of video that show flames engulfing the missile and small parts of its body breaking away—which apparently isn’t characteristic of hydrogen or nuclear weapons. A senior researcher at the centre said, "North Korea used heavy video editing to cover over this fact." Discuss
There’s a terrible story coming out of Turkey, where officials have raided a workshop, seizing hundreds of ineffective life jackets. More than 2 million refugees are currently in Turkey, and thousands have attempted to get to Greece on dangerous boats and makeshift vessels. The underground workshop that made the vest was reportedly using labor from Syrian children. The raid comes just hours after the bodies of dozens of drowned refugees were found—many were unknowingly wearing fake life jackets. According to The Telegraph this “summer had seen a booming trade in life jackets in Turkish resorts for sale at suspiciously low prices.” Discuss