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News Summary: March 2016

Brussels Attacks

Three bombs exploded in Brussels, Belgium this month killing at least 30 people and injuring 230. Two blasts took place at Zaventem airport at 8 am local time, killing 11 and injuring 100. A third bomb went off at Maelbeek metro station around an hour later. 20 people died in this attack and 130 were injured.

In an online statement, Daesh quickly claimed responsibility for the attacks, although the statement offered no more details than were publicly available and have also warned of “harder and more bitter” attacks to come.

The Belgian Prime Minister, Charles Michel, described it as a “black day” for Belgium, saying: “What we feared has happened.”

The colours of the Belgian flag – black, yellow and red – were been on to national landmarks across Europe in a show of solidarity.

Ankara Bombing 

A car bomb exploded in the Turkish capital Ankara, killing 37 people and wounding over 100, the health ministry has said.

The explosion happened in Guven Park in the Kizilay district, a key transport hub and commercial area.

The Kurdish militant group TAK then claimed responsibility for the deadly attack. In an online statement it said the attack, was in revenge for military operations in the mainly Kurdish south-east.

The TAK, an offshoot of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), had already said it was responsible for another bombing in Ankara last month.

Both the TAK and the PKK are classified as terrorist groups by Turkey and the US.

Lahore Attacks 

A busy park was attacked this month in the eastern city of Lahore, the powerbase of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The faction of the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack late on Sunday night, and issued a direct challenge to the government.

“The target was Christians,” said a faction spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan. “We want to send this message to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that we have entered Lahore.”

Most of those killed were women and children enjoying Easter weekend. Pakistan is a majority-Muslim state but has more than 2 million Christians, making up less than 2% of the population.

The minority Christian population has been repeatedly targeted alongside the army, police, government and Western interests.

The Easter bombing was Pakistan’s deadliest attack since a 2014 school massacre claimed by the Taliban killed 134 students.

Grand Bassam Beach Resort Attack 

At least 18 people including were killed this month after six gunmen opened fire at a beach resort in Ivory Coast.

It happened at the Etoile du Sud complex in Grand Bassam, a popular tourist resort, approximately 40 kilometres east of the country’s main city, Abidjan.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb, which claimed responsibility, is adopting the more aggressive tactics of Isis.

Witnesses described the attackers as African, armed with Kalashnikovs and grenade belts and dressed in casual clothes who shot at “anyone they could find” as they “calmly” walked along the beach.

The attack is the third on West African establishments popular with Westerners since November. In November, the attack on Radisson Blu in Mali’s capital Bamako left 20 dead, and in January gunmen entered the Hotel Splendid and nearby Cappuccino Café in Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou, killing 30.

French president François Hollande called the shooting a ‘cowardly attack’ and promised to lend the Ivory Coast logistical support and military intelligence.

India Flyover Collapse

A flyover under construction in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata has collapsed, killing at least 18 people and injuring more and it is feared that many people are still trapped under the concrete and steel bridge, which fell on a busy road.

Safety issues such as lack of inspections and the use of substandard materials on construction projects have been prevalent throughout the country.

The accident took place in an area near Girish Park, one of Kolkata’s most densely populated neighbourhoods, with narrow lanes, and shops and houses built tightly together.

The 1.2 mile flyover has been under construction since 2009 and has missed several deadlines for completion.

The causes of the disaster were not immediately clear but the company in charge of the construction, IVRCL, said it would cooperate with investigators.

Disability Benefit Cuts

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, proposed to strip 370,000 disabled people of an average of £3,500 a year prompting his resignation following public backlash.

David Cameron admitted that the plan to cut disability benefits is one of the occasions where the Government does not “always get it right”.

However the U-turn only came after a number of Tory backbenchers threatened to rebel. A report used by the Government to justify the cuts was also based on anecdotal and untested evidence, according to it’s own text.

The Government has not indicated how it will save the missing money but it has said it remains committed to making £12 billion of welfare cuts – meaning that overall welfare cuts are unlikely to be reduced.

Steel Crisis

David Cameron has said that “We’re not ruling anything out – I don’t believe nationalisation is the right answer.

Speaking after an emergency ministerial meeting in Downing Street, the PM defended his decision not to send ministers to a crunch meeting of Tata Steel executives in India on Tuesday – insisting the Government had been working on a plan “for months”.

 

The Government has been criticised for its response to Tata’s announcement that it is preparing to sell its UK assets, including the country’s biggest steel plant at Port Talbot in South Wales.

Around 40,000 jobs could be lost if no buyer is found, according to an analysis by the Institute for Public Policy Research.

Image credit: http://www.gotcredit.com

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Naina Bhardwaj

Naina Bhardwaj

Naina Bhardwaj

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