News Watch

An earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale struck northwestern Ecuador near the city of Portoviejo on April 16, killing at least 650 people and injuring about 16,600. Nearly 7,000 buildings were destroyed, and roads were damaged as well. More than a thousand aftershocks were measured. It was the worst tragedy to hit the country in nearly 60 years.

In the northern Pakistan provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, at least 92 people were killed in floods caused by heavy, pre-monsoon-season rains in early April, including at least 23 from a massive landslide that covered a village.

Flooding also washed away more than 1,000 houses and destroyed or damaged at least 70 shops in the regional capital of Peshawar. Roads also were damaged, including the Karakorum Highway, a link between China and Pakistan.

A heat wave in northern and eastern India in much of April, with area temperatures peaking at 105°, 113°, 116° and, in one town, 121°F, led to the deaths of at least 160 people. The deaths occurred in the states of Odisha, Telengana and Andhra Pradesh, though other states were also affected.

The El Niño weather pattern in the Pacific in 2016 has kept India’s coastal water temperatures high and delayed the monsoon season (which normally begins in April), intensifying the heat and contributing to a countrywide drought. In 2015, the worst heat wave in India in...


In one of the deadliest attacks to take place in Kabul, Afghanistan, in several years, at least 64 people were killed and 347 injured on April 19 when an explosives-filled truck was detonated by a suicide bomber in a parking lot near a governmental building in the Pul-e-Mahmud neighborhood. At least one more man then began a gun battle with security forces and was killed. The Taliban, an Islamic fundamentalist movement, claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Most of the victims were civilians. The neighborhood of homes, businesses and schools is near military compounds, the...


In northwestern Turkey on April 27, a suicide bomber killed herself and injured eight others, none critically, near the Grand Mosque in Bursa, a manufacturing city boasting Ottoman-era architecture.

Among two other suicide bombings reported last month to have taken place in Turkey in March (May ’16, pg. 15) was one on March 19 in Istanbul. Three Israelis (two of whom also were US citizens) and an Iranian were killed and dozens more people were injured when a suicide bomber detonated his device on Istiklal Caddesi, a busy shopping street frequented by travelers. The bomber had...


At least 108 women and children were kidnapped and 208 people were killed in southwestern Ethiopia on April 16 when a group of armed men crossed into Ethiopia from South Sudan and attacked a community in Gambella Province. The Ethiopian military pursued the attackers, reportedly killing 60 of them.

Ethiopian authorities blamed the attack on the Murle tribe of South Sudan, who, in the past, they have accused of crossing the border to raid livestock and kidnap children. The Murle tribe has no association with the South Sudan government, armed forces or any of the rebel groups in the...


In Lusaka, capital of Zambia, two days of violence on April 18-19 left two people dead, 250 arrested and 60 Rwandan-owned shops looted.

Rwandans make up the largest group of immigrants in Zambia, many having moved there after the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. In March and April of this year, following what were apparently ritual killings, the mutilated bodies of six men were found in the Lusaka area. Fueled by charges of police negligence as well as frustration over high unemployment and rising costs, this spurred xenophobic violence, which spread to several local townships.

Thousands of protesters rallied in Cairo and Alexandria on April 15 against Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s plan to give two Egyptian islands in the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia. During the protests, at least 80 people were arrested, with tear gas being fired into the crowds in Cairo. 

The islands, Tiran and Sanafir, are uninhabited and once were part of Saudi Arabia. They were transferred to Egyptian control in 1950 to protect them from Israel, which, nevertheless, twice captured the islands. 

El-Sisi has told critics that he is only returning lands...