5 Minute International Update 01-18-13

Top story continues to be the Algerian hostage situation. The numbers are still constantly changing. Algeria stat news claims that 100 out of 132 foreign hostages were freed. But last update claimed that at least 60 hostages were unaccounted for and presumed dead. Militants were said to have offered 2 American hostages for 2 terrorists jailed in the US. No timeline was given for this, so it is unclear if happened before or after the helicopter attack on the plant. Countries with hostages involved have had what AP is calling a “muted angry” response towards Algeria’s handling of the situation. Some of the involved countries, such as Norway, have been stirred to some kind of action so the continued development of this story should be interesting.  The Japanese had 17 people hostage and only five of those people have been returned. They are very angry. Apparently a Japanese official called Algeria found out the raid was going on and requested it to be. The UK said they wish they had been informed the raid was going to happen. And the Irish captive who was released that there was definitely one kidnapper from Mali. French intelligence says the militants are claiming Mali as the reason but were also already planning a kidnapping in advance. Norway is actively involving themselves and has sent personnel to Algeria. Scope and numbers are still vague.

Christians and Muslims clashed in Southern Egypt. Police had to use tear gas to disperse Muslims protesting outside a Christian church. Protestors demanded an investigation into the allegations against a Christian man for sexually assaulting a 6-year-old girl. Police are already investigating the accusations against the merchant. Coptic Christians in the region have openly claimed discrimination from the government.

After increased self-immolations in Tibet (setting yourself on fire) as protests against Chinese rule in the country, China has responded with a harsh crackdown. They criminalized the suicides, arresting protester’s friends, family and confiscating thousands of satellite TV dishes.

In Syria 2 suicide bombers hit Damascus, 12 people dead, both sides blame each other for the attacks

UN predicting 700,000 people will be forced from their homes in Mali due to military clashes, reports are coming in of amputation, torture and the use of child soldiers by Al-Qaeda, 265 Malian refugees crossed into Burkina Faso, Doctors Without Borders has been unable to get to a key town Konna, they say militants are holding the town despite the Malian government saying they had retaken it

In Sudan, tribes in North Dafur have signed a cease-fire agree. 100 people are dead and 70,000 people displaced over clashes there,

UN officials did not reach a deal with Tehran over restarting a probe into their nuclear program

Somali journalist shot, first journalist to be killed this year

Polls in Israel have Netanyahu and his party in the lead, the election is this coming Tuesday, the 22nd

String of attacks across Iraq kill 31