The week at a glance...International


Chelyabinsk, Russia

It came from outer space: The largest meteor in almost a century smashed through the atmosphere over Russia last week, causing a shock wave that blew out the windows of 3,000 buildings and injured 1,200 people. Russians with cameras on their car dashboards—placed there to record traffic accidents because police can’t be trusted—uploaded dozens of videos of the rock streaking across the sky, which were viewed a record 73 million times in one day. So far, 53 tiny fragments of the meteor have been recovered, though a 20-foot hole in the ice of a local lake suggests a bigger piece could still be found. Still, many Russians suspected foul play. “These are not meteors falling, but Americans testing new weapons,” said ultranationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky.


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Military hackers: A cybersecurity firm has traced scores of attacks on U.S. corporate and government computers to a single building in Shanghai. The security firm, Mandiant, found that the attacks originated in a 12-story building known as the headquarters of People’s Liberation Army Unit 61398. Intelligence analysts say that the unit has about 2,000 employees and 1,000 servers, and is the most prolific hacking group in China. Some attacks target trade secrets, including data from Coca-Cola, but most focus on companies involved in infrastructure, such as the electrical power grid, gas lines, chemical plants, satellites, and telecommunications. China denied the allegations.

Quetta, Pakistan

Shiites massacred: Pakistani Shiites demanded government protection this week after a bombing at a crowded market killed 89 people, the second mass assault on Shiites in Quetta in two months. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, an extremist Sunni group, claimed responsibility. Shiite families refused to bury their dead for several days to pressure the government to crack down on the militants; they relented when the government arrested 170 suspects and replaced the police chiefs of Quetta city and of Baluchistan province. A bombing that killed 86 people in January led to a massive protest that toppled the provincial government.


Australian spy scandal: Australia is demanding answers from Israel about the death of an Australian man in an Israeli prison in 2010. The man’s incarceration was a state secret in Israel until the Australian news channel ABC broke the story last week, revealing that he was Ben Zygier, an Australian immigrant to Israel. ABC said Zygier, 34, had been working for the Israeli spy agency Mossad when he was arrested under suspicion of spilling secrets to Australian intelligence. According to an official Israeli inquiry, Zygier hanged himself with a sheet in his prison cell some months later. Israeli officials have refused to confirm whether Zygier worked for Mossad. Relations between Israel and Australia suffered in 2010 after Australian passports were used in a suspected Mossad operation to assassinate a Palestinian arms trader.

Tunis, Tunisia

Government in turmoil: The resignation of moderate Islamist Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali has plunged Tunisia into its worst political crisis since the 2010 uprising that sparked the Arab Spring. The assassination of secular opposition leader Chokri Belaid earlier this month sparked protests and calls for the Islamist-led government to step down. In response, Jebali proposed forming a new government of nonpartisan technocrats, but he quit this week after his own Ennahda party rejected the idea, refusing to relinquish its cabinet posts. “Our people are disillusioned by the political class,” Jebali said. “We must restore confidence.”

Bredasdorp, South Africa

Gang rape shocks nation: A brutal gang rape of a 17-year-old may have begun to move South Africans to protest the way the Delhi bus rape did for Indians. Anene Booyson was raped, beaten, and disemboweled by a group of men. Before she died, she named her ex-boyfriend as one of the rapists. Her injuries were so appalling that the doctors and nurses who treated her were given counseling, and graphic coverage of the crime has shocked a nation where violent rape, even of small children, is extremely common. At least a quarter of South African men surveyed admitted to having raped a woman, and 71 percent of women reported having been victims of sexual abuse, according to the government.

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