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Baghdad Bomb Attacks Kill at Least 60

18 bombs went off across Baghdad today, killing at least 60 people. It was the worst attack in months and comes amid very heightened political tensions between Shi’a and Sunni leaders in the Iraqi government. Is this what we can look forward to now that the USA has pulled its troops from the country? “There was no immediate claim of responsibility. But the bombings bore all the hallmarks of al Qaeda’s Sunni insurgents. Most appeared to hit Shiite neighborhoods, although some Sunni areas were also targeted. In all, 11 neighborhoods were hit by either car bombs, roadside blasts or sticky bombs attached to cars. There was at least one suicide bombing and the blasts went off over several hours. The deadliest attack was in the Karrada neighborhood, where a suicide bomber driving an explosives-laden vehicle blew himself up outside the office of a government agency fighting corruption. Two police officers at the scene said the bomber was driving an ambulance and told guards that he needed to get to a nearby hospital. After the guards let him through, he drove to the building where he blew himself up, the officers said.” (CBS http://bit.ly/svOE5O)

A True Massacre in Syria, Meanwhile, USA Turns up the Heat

It’s getting bad. Real bad. “In one of the deadliest reported episodes of a nine-month uprising, Syrian security forces assaulting a village near the Turkish border surrounded and killed more than 100 people in a hail of tank and machine gun fire.” (LAT http://lat.ms/uwPLje)  Meanwhile, The White House released a tough worded statement on Wednesday hinting at some future international action. “The United States continues to believe that the only way to bring about the change that the Syrian people deserve is for Bashar al-Assad to leave power. The words of the Assad regime have no credibility when they continue to be followed by outrageous and deplorable actions…We urge Syria’s few remaining supporters in the international community to warn Damascus that if the Arab League initiative is once again not fully implemented, the international community will take additional steps to pressure the Assad regime to stop its crackdown.”  (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/tQjUf8)

Aid Distributions Suspended in Dadaab

Amidst security concerns, aid agencies have suspended operations in Dadaab. “Aid distributions have been temporarily suspended at Kenya’s Dadaab refugee complex, near the border with Somalia, following a series of bomb attacks. Tensions are high at the world’s largest refugee camp, where refugees have accused the police of harassment. On Tuesday, a suspected remote-controlled bomb exploded in Ifo camp, part of Dadaab camp, damaging a police vehicle, the United Nations’ refugee agency (UNHCR) said in a statement on Wednesday. On Monday, a similar device killed one police officer and seriously wounded two others in the camp.” (AlertNet http://bit.ly/rXIBQA)

North Koreans Could Die Within Months From Malnutrition

The succession issue in DPRK has overshadowed a very pressing humanitarian emergency. “’We are concerned. Time is of the essence,’ said Ken Isaacs of Samaritan’s Purse, a US-based NGO that helped to distribute the last American food aid in North Korea, almost three years ago. David Austin of Mercy Corps, who visited flood-hit regions in September, warned: ‘The longer you delay this decision, the more suffering there’s going to be.’ He said it would take six weeks to three months to set up new deliveries, and warned that based on current conditions, people’s food rations would be cut ‘quite substantially’ by April. Aid groups warned that North Koreans would die from malnutrition within months unless donations increased. The WFP launched an emergency programme in April, but has received less than a third of the funding it needs.” (Guardian http://bit.ly/rBuGxS)

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