Syrian prime minister survives bomb attack

April 29, 2013

Rebels strike Assad’s prime minister, Bangladesh building owner brought to court, and explosion in Prague injures forty. Today is Monday, April 29, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner and @clarerrrr.

People stand near debris and a damaged vehicle after an explosion at al-Mezze neighborhood in Damascus, April 29, 2013, in this handout photograph distributed by Syria’s national news agency SANA. REUTERS/SANA/Handout

No place is safe for symbols of Assad. Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halki survived a bomb attack by rebel forces. The attack targeted his convoy and killed six people in Damascus’ Mezze district, according to Syrian media:

Mezze is part of a shrinking “Square of Security” in central Damascus, where many government and military institutions are based and where senior Syrian officials live. Sheltered for nearly two years from the bloodshed and destruction ravaging much of the rest of Syria, it has been slowly sucked into violence as rebel forces based to the east of the capital launch mortar attacks and carry out bombings in the center.

President Bashar al-Assad appointed Halki to the largely symbolic position in August. Syria’s previous prime minister defected to Jordan following a bombing which killed four top security advisors. Today’s attacks come after President Obama acknowledged on Thursday that the Syrian government likely used chemical weapons, a move the U.S. said would cross a “red line.” Republican lawmakers urged Obama to intervene, as the president weighs difficult options. Meanwhile Syria’s neighbors would be wary of a U.S.-led intervention.

Crowds out for blood of Bangladesh building owner. Officials brought to court the owner of a factory building that collapsed in Bangladesh last week after a four-day manhunt concluded with his arrest on Sunday:

Bangladeshi lawyers and protesters chanted “hang him, hang him” on Monday as the owner of a factory building that collapsed last week killing nearly 400 people was led into court dressed in a helmet and bullet-proof jacket, witnesses said. The drama came as rescue officials said they were unlikely to find more survivors in the rubble of the building that collapsed on Wednesday, burying hundreds of garment workers in the country’s worst industrial accident.

A fire broke out in the factory on Sunday night, started by sparks from cutting equipment workers used in attempts to rescue victims buried in rubble. Hundreds of mostly female garment workers remain unaccounted for. Angry demonstrators took to the streets, setting fire to an ambulance and smashing cars.

Blast rocks central Prague. An explosion in central Prague injured as many as forty people, according to officials:

The explosion, in a building facing the Vltava river just a few dozen yards from the 19th-century theatre, was heard as far away as Prague Castle about a mile away. A police spokesman said the blast was probably caused by gas and that there had been about 15 people in the building, which included an office of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and an art gallery.

The eruption blew out windows in nearby structures. No fatalities have been recorded, but some people may be trapped in the building.

Nota Bene: Cyprus tries to win back public trust by limiting the president’s immunity from prosecution.


Cash for Karzai – The CIA delivered millions of dollars in monthly bundles of “ghost money” to Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai’s office. (The New York Times)

Pass the Dutch – The new king of the Netherlands has a salty past, spurring sales of drugs, alcohol and furry clogs. (Agence France-Presse)

Tempers rise at high altitude – Everest climbers get in a fight with their sherpas. (BBC)

Iraq pulls the plug – Iraq shuts down ten news networks for “unethical” and “unprofessional” coverage. (CNN)

Happy ads miss the point – India safety ads warn of trivial dangers. (The Atlantic)

From the File:

  • North Korea holds back seven South Koreans at industrial zone
  • Italy’s new government begins life in climate of crisis
  • Kenya chief justice denies taking bribe in presidential petition
  • Royal hoax caller to testify at inquest into UK nurse’s death
  • Yemenis languish in Guantanamo prison with scant hope of release

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