Violence continues to escalate in Mexico's west-central state of Michoacán, with bus transportation suspended to the towns of Apatzingán, Buenavista, Tepalcatepec and Coalcomán following a series of clashes there April 28, leaving the area effectively cut off from the outside world. At least 10 were killed in the area, in the state's Tierra Caliente region, April 29. The municipal presidency building in Buenavista remains under occupation by the Community Police, a citizen's self-defense patrol, which has seized public buildings in the town, accusing the "official" authorities of being in league with narco gangs. Several families from Buenavista have been displaced by the fighting there, and have taken refuge in Apatzingán. (Reuters, April 29; Milenio, Radio Formula, April 28)
The People's Protection Committees (YPG), armed wing of Syria's main Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), joined forces with Syrian rebels last month, helping them overrun the strategic Sheikh Maksud neighborhood on a hilltop north of Aleppo. "We have the same goal as the rebel fighters," YPG commander Engizek told AFP last week. "It is to seek the ouster of Assad." But days later, militiamen of PYD—considered to be the Syrian offshoot of Turkey's outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)—clashed with Free Syrian Army forces in the Kurdish neighborhood. The internecine fighting started after FSA rebels accused YPG forces of attacking a rebel convoy and otherwise secretly collaborating with the government. "The YPG have been on the government side from the beginning," said Khalid Alhayani, an FSA brigade commander. "When we entered [the area], we asked YPG if we could use their territory to hit government check points. They would agree but then report to the government our plans." (Global Post, April 26; Japan Times, April 23)
A Catholic monastery and convent in the secluded Cremisan Valley outside Bethlehem lost a seven-year legal battle against the construction of Israel's "separation barrier" across its land on April 24. The wall will surround the convent and primary school on three sides, confiscating most of its land. A small gate will be built to allow nuns and monks to access the Salesian Monastery and Convent in order to "guarantee their right of freedom of religion." The gate will also allow farmers and landowners to access their lands on the other side of the wall, although they will need permits to reach them.
Garment workers in Bangladesh walked off the job, blocked roads, attacked factories and smashed vehicles April 26, paralyzing at least three industrial areas just outside the capital Dhaka. Some 1,500 workers, many armed with bamboo sticks, marched to the Dhaka headquarters of the main manufacturers association. The uprising began when police fired tear-gas and rubber bullets at anxious relatives as they massed at the site of a collapsed factory where resuce workers were attempting to dig out their loved ones trapped under rubble. About 3,000 people are thought to have been in the Rana Plaza complex in Savar industrial zone on the outskirts of Dhaka, when it collapsed on the morning of April 24 shortly after the workday started. Only some 60 have been found alive; some 1,000 are thought to have escaped unharmed. The complex housed factories that made clothes for retail chains Benetton, Primark, Matalan, Children's Place, Cato Fashions, Mango and others.
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) on April 24 called for the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) to be repealed. "I'm convinced that if we do not repeal this authorization to use force that I voted against in 2001, we are going to see this state of perpetual war forever," she told Current TV. Congress approved the AUMF just days after the 9-11 attacks, giving the president authority to wage war "against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks." Lee was the only member of Congress to vote against it, calling it a "blank check" for war. The Obama administration has used the AUMF as a legal justification for its targeted drone strike program in Pakistan and Yemen. "The use of drones in many instances creates more hatred, more anger, more hostility toward our country," Lee added, citing the recent congressional testimony of a young Yemeni activist. (Raw Story, April 24)
India is protesting what it calls an incursion by some 30 Chinese troops from across the Line of Actual Control in the Himalayas. New Delhi says the troops entered from Tibet on April 15, and established an encampment 10 kilometers within India-controlled territory, in Depsang valley of Ladakh region, Jammu and Kashmir state. Chinese helicopters also reportedly entered India's airspace. Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid is to visit Beijing next month to discuss the border tensions, but China denies its troops have entered Indian territory.
Chinese authorities say order has been restored after clashes between armed men and officials and police in Bachu (Uighur: Maralbeshi) county near Kashgar in the western part of Xinjiang April 23. The death toll stands at 21, including 15 police officers and social workers, in what official news portal Tianshan Net called a "violent terror incident." Fighting apparently started when a patrol of police, local officials and community workers were set upon with knives and axes. Ethnic Uighurs were blamed for the attack, in which six of the assailants were slain. The Foreign Ministry said a "violent terrorist group" was behind the assault. (BBC News, April 25; BBC News, AFP, Al Jazeera, April 24)
France has vowed to punish those responsible for the April 23 car bomb blast at its embassy in Tripoli that destroyed half the building and wounded six—two French guards, and four resident of nearby buildings that were damaged, including an 18-year-old woman who suffered spinal damage. Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who immediately flew to Tripoli, vowed: "The terrorists who wanted to attack France and Libya and undermine the friendship between them will pay." Prime Minister Ali Zeidan visited the scene of the devastation with Fabius. There was no claim of responsibility, but suspicion immediately fell on al-Qaeda's North African arm, AQIM, which has repeatedly threatened retaliation for the French intervention in Mali. On April 25, two suspects arrested following a lightning investigation led by a French judge and a team of foresnics experts dispatched by Paris. (Libya Herald, Tripoli Post, April 25; Al Jazeera, NYT, April 23)