FEBRUARY 07, 2023
West Papua National Liberation Army rebels (TPNPB) from Indonesia’s Papua region have kidnapped a New Zealand pilot and set the small commercial aircraft operated by Susi Air on fire shortly after it landed In the remote Nduga Regency, Highland Papua Province. A police spokesperson in Papua province, told reporters that authorities were investigating the incident, with police and military personnel deployed to the area to locate the pilot and five passengers. An Indonesian military spokesperson in Papua identified the pilot as Captain Philip Merthens but said it was unclear if the five passengers who were onboard had also been kidnapped. Susi Air founder and former fisheries minister, Susi Pudjiastuti, twitted she was praying for the safety of the pilot and the passengers. The West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) issued a statement saying the pilot would not be released until the Indonesian government acknowledged the independence of West Papua – which refers to the western side of New Guinea island. (aljazeera.com, 8 February 2023)
FEBRUARY 06, 2023
At around 3:17 am local time, a powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake occurred east of Nurdağı in the Gaziantep province in Turkey, close to the border with Syria at an estimated depth of 18 km/ 11miles. Hours later, a second earthquake of a 7.5 magnitude struck approximately 55 km/ 34 miles north-northeast of the city of Kahramanmaras, located nearly 80 km/ 50 miles north of Gaziantep -- at an estimated depth of 10 km/ 6 miles. The earthquakes were followed by up to 78 aftershocks. The quake and aftershocks resulted in widespread damage with full and partial collapse of thousands of buildings.
At least 2,379 people were killed and at least 14,500 were injured in ten Turkish provinces, while in Syria at least 1,444 people were killed and at least 1,400 injured. The death toll in both countries is likely to further rise as search and rescue operations continue under severe conditions. The initial quake was felt as far as Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, Iraq, Cyprus and Greece, but no damage or casualties were reported.
Airports in southeastern Turkey, including Gaziantep Oguzeli International Airport and Kahramanmaras Airport, remain open only for rescue and aid operations. Fights have been suspended at Hatay International Airport and damage was reported at Malatya Erhaç Airport located in the Eastern Anatolia Region.
The Turkish government has suspended schools until February 13 and declared a three-month state of emergency in the most affected provinces. The Syrian government have also declared a state of emergency in northern Syria country, including Idlib, which is controlled by anti-government rebels.
Turkey requested the international community for help and many countries have announced that they will send rescue teams, equipment, and humanitarian aid.
As Turkey will hold general elections in May, the disaster has the potential to turn into a political tool by both the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the position. Any delays in distribution of the aid or perceived differences in aid delivery to districts controlled by AKP over opposition-controlled districts, may lead to civil unrest and may increase the popularity of opposition parties ahead of the elections. In a televised speech to the nation, President Erdogan openly threatened to deal with everyone including the media who will spread false news about the earthquake or rescue operations.
The earthquakes—the worst to hit Turkey in 84 years-- is going to further strain the already falling economy and is expected to curb any growth expectations this year.
JANUARY 30, 2023
At around 1:30 pm local time, a suicide bomber detonated his explosive device inside a mosque at the highly security "Red Zone" compound in the volatile city of Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The bomber, reportedly wearing police uniforms and riding a motorbike, entered the complex housing the governor house, chief minister residence as well as houses of police and counter-terrorism officers. At least 100 people, mostly police officers, were killed in the attack and 225 others were wounded, many as result of the collapse of mosque’s ceiling. Following the attack, which was claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP or Pakistani Taliban) militant group, the government have placed the capital Islamabad on high alert.
JANUARY 28, 2023
A 22-year-old off-duty officer in the Paratroopers Brigade and his 59-year-old father were shot and in seriously wounded along Ma’alot Ir David Street Jerusalem’s Old City. Despite being wounded the soldier and a bystander managed to shoot and killed the attacker, a 13 -year-old Palestinian boy, from the Arab neighborhood of Silwan in East Jerusalem. The attack came hours after seven people were killed and three more were wounded in a shooting attack in the Neve Yaakov neighborhood. Following the attacks, the national alert level was raised to the highest level, and security forces were strengthened across Israel and the West Bank.
JANUARY 27, 2023
At 8:15 pm local time, an Arab Israeli identified as Alqam Kheiri, a 21-year-old resident of the At-Tur neighborhood in East Jerusalem, opened fire at worshipers outside Atert Avraham synagogue in the city’s Neve Yaakov neighborhood. Seven people were killed in the attack and three others were wounded. According to police, the terrorist who arrived by car was engaged and killed by police officers responding to the scene as he was fleeing in the car towards the neighboring Arab Beit Hanina neighborhood. Though no organization claimed responsibility for the attack, Palestinian militant groups have praised the attack and celebrations were reported in both the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, where people fired guns into the air, honked horns and distributed sweets.