(left) Deadly Assam riots engulf India in a wave of violence that leaves 22 dead. (Right) 115 die in a wave of sectarian violence across Iraq. A civil war rages in Syria; violence has ravaged Afghanistan. We ask, is the world on the verge of unraveling?
July 24, 2012 – INDIA – Police shot at a roving mob in India’s northeastern state of Assam on Tuesday as security forces struggled to contain ethnic fighting that has killed 22 people and left remote hamlets in flames, forcing tens of thousands from their homes. Rioting between Bodo tribespeople and Muslim settlers has raged for days. Several people suffered bullet wounds and others were injured in a stampede when police fired to disperse a gang of 400 on Tuesday morning, a senior police official said. Soldiers and federal paramilitary troops patrolled Bodo tribe-dominated Kokrajhar town and outlying areas on armored vehicles mounted with machine guns. Locals said more reinforcements were needed to stop the violence that spread to rural areas and neighboring districts overnight, with more hamlets along river banks and in the jungle burned by rival mobs. Some 500 villages have been destroyed. “The security forces were silent spectators when village after village was burnt down,” veteran local politician Urkhao Gwra Brahma told Reuters. “This morning I thought the situation would become normal, but I was wrong. Violence again started. It is really out of control.” Ringed by China, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Bhutan, India’s northeast is home to more than 200 ethnic and tribal groups and has been racked by separatist revolts since India’s independence from Britain in 1947. In recent years, Hindu and Christian tribes have vented strong anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiment against Bangladeshi settlers. The latest violence was sparked on Friday night when unidentified men killed four youths in the isolated Kokrajhar district, police and district officials said. In retaliation, armed Bodos attacked Muslims, suspecting them of being behind the killings. Hundreds of men armed with spears, clubs and rocks attacked an express train passing through Kokrajhar on Tuesday, injuring several passengers. Hagrama Mohilary, the leader of the tribal council governing the region, warned that former separatist rebels had joined the violence to protect Bodo villages. He called for the rebels, who are officially observing a ceasefire, to lay down their arms. Bodo tribes shot at Muslim villages close to the border with Bhutan on Monday night, a senior police officer who asked not to be named told Reuters. He said no casualties had been reported. Assam’s chief minister, Tarun Gogoi, told TV network CNN-IBN that he hoped the situation would be under control within two days. He said some 30,000 villagers have fled their homes and taken shelter in relief camps, but local officials said the numbers were at least twice that. –Reuters
Wave of sectarian violence explodes in Iraq: A series of roadside bombings, exploding cars and gun battles have killed at least 115 people and injured more than 200 across Iraq in the deadliest day of violence in more than two years. The coordinated attacks on Monday come after al Qaeda’s leader in Iraq, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, warned the militant network was returning to strongholds from which it was driven before US troops left the country in December. “The majority of the Sunnis in Iraq support al Qaeda and are waiting for its return,” he said in a statement last week. The bombings and shootings all took place within a few hours of each other, shattering a two-week lull in violence in the run-up to the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, which started in Iraq on Saturday. Sectarian violence peaked in Iraq in 2006-2007, but deadly attacks have persisted while political tensions among Iraq’s main Shi’ite, Sunni and Kurdish factions have mounted since the American military withdrawal. No group has claimed responsibility for the latest wave of assaults, but a senior Iraqi security official blamed the local wing of al Qaeda, made up of Sunni Muslim militants hostile to the Shi’ite-led government. “Recent attacks are a clear message that al Qaeda in Iraq is determined to spark a bloody sectarian war,” the official said, asking not to be named. “With what’s going on in Syria, these attacks should be taken seriously as a potential threat to our country. Al Qaeda is trying to push Iraq to the verge of Shi’ite-Sunni war,’ he said. “They want things to be as bad as in Syria,” he added. –Sky News