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New satellite images and witness accounts have emerged of what Amnesty International calls the “catastrophic destruction” from a massacre in northern Nigeria. Hundreds are feared dead after Boko Haram militants attacked Baga and surrounding areas earlier this month. Before and after images taken of two adjacent towns show thousands of buildings damaged or destroyed. Amnesty says one town was completely “wiped off the map.” One witness who managed to flee told Amnesty: “I don’t know how many but there were bodies everywhere we looked.” The Nigerian military has claimed a toll as low as 150, but it could be as high as 2,000. Amnesty said: “Of all Boko Haram assaults analyzed by Amnesty International, this is the largest and most destructive yet — a deliberate attack on civilians whose homes, clinics and schools are now burnt out ruins.”
An underground Belgium arms dealer has turned himself in to police in Brussels, saying he sold the weapons to the gunmen in last week’s Paris attacks. French authorities have also reportedly identified the accomplice of Amedy Coulibaly, who killed four in a kosher supermarket. The news comes hours after al-Qaeda took responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo massacre, saying it was ordered by top leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.
On Wednesday, Charlie Hebdo published its first issue since the attack, featuring a cover of the Prophet Muhammad holding a sign that reads, “Je Suis Charlie,” or “I am Charlie,” with the headline, “All is forgiven.” The issue was published in five countries with a print run of five million copies, up from the magazine’s normal circulation of 60,000.
The Islamic State has launched a series of new attacks across Iraq, killing dozens of people. According to Al Jazeera, at least 16 Kurdish peshmerga soldiers were killed today in an ISIS offensive on the Mosul Dam. Other attacks were reported in the town of Sinjar and another flashpoint area in Diyala province. The Pentagon says the U.S.-led coalition carried out 12 strikes on ISIS positions inside Iraq overnight. General John Allen, the U.S. envoy for the global coalition, said Iraq is on the front lines of the campaign against ISIS following the recent attacks in Paris and other Western cities.
Gen. John Allen: “As we saw so tragically in Paris last week, Iraq is on the front lines of a global conflict. I was in Paris last week meeting with French and European counterparts as the crisis there was unfolding, and it was a stark reminder that Daesh’s dark, violent ideology has a long reach. Even before Paris, we saw terrorists inspired by Daesh wreak havoc in other capitals of the coalition — in Sydney and in Ottawa and in Brussels.”
The United Nations has issued a new appeal for Syrian refugees as a harsh winter sets in. The U.N. Refugee Agency says two-thirds of Syrian refugees in Jordan are now living below the absolute poverty line of $96 per month. A UNICEF spokesperson said more children are endangered by the day.
Christophe Boulierac: “The number of vulnerable children, as I said, children in need, has been growing on a daily basis. Planning has been extremely challenging due to the increasing numbers of families moving to informal settlements. More and more displaced Syrians have run out of savings and are now having to resort to desperate measures, including moving to settlements as a last resort.”
Five Yemeni prisoners have been freed from the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay. Four were sent to Oman while another has gone to Estonia, the first time either country has agreed to take in former prisoners. The five had been cleared for release for many years, but the United States has refused to send them to Yemen. The Pentagon says there are now 122 prisoners left at Guantánamo.
An Ohio man has been arrested for an alleged plot to attack the U.S. Capitol that authorities say was inspired by the Islamic State. An FBI informant said Christopher Cornell planned to set off pipe bombs and open fire on congressional officials and staffers. Investigators reportedly started tracking Cornell after he expressed support for violent jihad on Twitter.
Federal prosecutors in Mexico have formally charged the mayor of Iguala for the kidnapping of 43 students in late September. Police had accused José Luis Abarca and his wife of spearheading the attack, but it is the first time he has been indicted. The students were allegedly abducted by local police working with drug gangs, and according to one report, possibly federal forces, as well. Parents of the disappeared students meanwhile have launched a civilian search in the region of Guerrero where the students were last seen. Hundreds of people, including members of community police forces, Ayotzinapa students and members of civil society, are scouring rural areas where they have received tips that the students may be held captive. Emiliano Navarrete, the father of one of the missing students, is helping coordinate the search.
Emiliano Navarrete: “I personally have gone to more than 100 places to look for my son, and we haven’t found them, not even one of the students. From my perspective, it is because the government, the military is holding them. This was all planned by them, including the governor. The government definitely knows where they are, but they don’t want to give us the answer. This enrages me as a Mexican. I am embarrassed when I realize what government exists and what kind of government we have here in Guerrero state.”
The Republican-controlled House has voted to undo major portions of President Obama’s executive action on immigration. The measure would strip the legal protections offered to millions of undocumented immigrants as part of a reprieve granted last year. More than two dozen Republicans broke with their party to oppose the measure. President Obama has promised a veto if it reaches his desk.