Plague outbreak: A town in western China is under quarantine due to an outbreak of pneumonic plague, which has killed three people. Police have set up barricades, while rats in the area are being exterminated because they carry the fleas that spread the illness. Pneumonic plague is the deadliest and most rare form of plague. Unlike bubonic plague, which is spread only by fleas, pneumonic plague can also be passed from person to person. Untreated, it kills 60 percent of its victims, though early treatment with antibiotics cuts the death rate to 15 percent. “It’s not something we’re very worried about,” said Vivian Tan of the World Health Organization, “but we are keeping an eye on it.”
Mob kills Christians: A huge mob revved up by a banned Islamist group went on a rampage against Christians in eastern Pakistan, killing eight people and burning down dozens of houses. Hundreds of people were arrested. The melee began when the group Sipah-e-Sahaba falsely claimed that local Christians had desecrated the Koran. “This is a direct consequence of the religious fanaticism that is rampant now all over Pakistan,” said human-rights activist Iqbal Haider. “These extremists are hellbent upon killing every person who does not support their religious views.” Christians, who make up just 3 percent of Pakistan’s population, say they have been have been harassed and threatened by Islamist militants since 9/11. Christians are seen as pro-American because of their faith.
Anbar province, Iraq
American pilot found: Marines have found the body of an American fighter pilot shot down at the start of the first Gulf War, in 1991. Navy Capt. Michael Scott Speicher was the only American missing in action from that war, and some officials suspected he’d been taken captive. After the 2003 invasion of Baghdad, the military redoubled efforts to find him, chasing down rumors including a report that his initials had been scratched into the walls of an Iraqi prison cell. But Bedouins told Marines last month that they had buried Speicher after finding his body at the crash site, and authorities located the remains and identified Speicher from dental records. The Speicher family issued a statement thanking the Pentagon for not abandoning its search: “We will be bringing him home.”
Tel Aviv, Israel
Attack on gays: A masked gunman burst into a community center for gay youth and opened fire last week, killing two people before fleeing. No arrest has been made. The attack shocked Tel Aviv, which sees itself as a gay-friendly city, with openly gay elected officials and an annual gay pride parade. Some gay activists blamed a recent rise in anti-gay rhetoric from the ultra-Orthodox community, particularly the Shas Party. “Years of continuous incitement by Knesset members, rabbis, and public figures have exacted a terrible price,” said Nitzan Horowitz, a gay Knesset member from the Meretz Party. “We won’t forget and we won’t forgive.”
Terror plot: Police have arrested four Islamists they say were plotting to attack an Australian military base on the outskirts of Sydney. The four, Australian citizens of Somali or Lebanese background, are suspected of being part of al-Shabaab, an al Qaida–linked group that is trying to take over Somalia. Authorities don’t believe that al-Shabaab ordered the attack, but rather that the men had been trained and radicalized in Somalia and then hatched their own plot after returning to Australia. The men were allegedly plotting to invade a barrack, to kill as many soldiers as possible before they themselves were killed. “This would have been the most serious terrorist attack on Australian soil,” said Federal Police chief Tony Negus.
Half a million homeless: More than 500,000 people have been chased from their homes in Congo so far this year, the U.N. Refugee Agency reports. Fighting between government forces and Hutu rebels who fled to Congo after participating in the 1994 Rwanda genocide has been going on for more than a decade, and it has surged in recent months. The rebels are reportedly attacking villages across eastern Congo, raping and torturing residents. The U.N. estimates that at least 5 million people have died in the conflict, most of them from disease. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to press Congolese President Joseph Kabila to do more to protect civilians when she visits Congo as part of her 11-day tour of Africa, which began this week.