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Top five international stories of the week

Every Friday, we will bring to you the top five international stories of the week, with a particular emphasis on religious liberty, justice issues, and geopolitical issues that impact liberty and justice.

1. Iran detains and releases U.S. sailors. This week, the Iranian navy detained—and released—10 U.S. sailors that strayed within three miles of Iran’s Farsi Island. It appears that one of the U.S. vessels had suffered engine malfunction, making it impossible for the vessel to retreat to international waters. Secretary of State John Kerry indicated that the release of the U.S. sailors was a “testament to the critical role diplomacy plays in keeping our country safe, secure, and strong.” One U.S. sailor apologized for straying into Iranian waters and accepted responsibility; it remains unclear whether this admission was made under duress or threat.

2. Doctors Without Borders hospital in Yemen bombed, killing five and wounding 10 others. Doctors Without Borders (French: Medecins Sans Frontieres or MSF) has been caught in the crossfire again; a “projectile” struck a hospital in Yemen, collapsing several buildings in the hospital compound. This is the third “incident” at an MSF facility in Yemen in three months. And in Kunduz, Afghanistan, an MSF hospital was bombed by U.S. warplanes last October.

3. Explosion in Istanbul kills 12. A suicide bomber killed at least 10 people in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet square, which is close to the famous Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. Nine of the victims were German, according to authorities. Some Turkish officials have blamed the attack on the Islamic State, but the responsibility for the attack remains murky. On Thursday, seven were arrested in connection with the attack. But just as Turkish officials were trying to reassure the public, another blast struck the police headquarters in the Cinar district in southeastern Turkey, near the Syrian border. That attack, which killed at least five and wounded 39, has been attributed to the PKK, a pro-Kurdish party.

4. So-called Islamic State carries out coordinated attacks in Jakarta, killing two and wounding more than 20. Although the attack was relatively minor—one CNN analyst described the attack as “fairly amateurish … with hand grenades and firearms”—an attack in the world’s largest Muslim country raises concerns about the rise of extremism in Indonesia. This latest attack is part of a trend counter-terrorism experts have called a “Marauding Terrorist Firearms Attack,” or MTFA.

5. Fifteen-year-old Turkish Kurd attacks Jewish teacher in Marseille with a machete in the name of ISIS. The teacher’s back and hand were injured during the attack, but the teacher was able to successfully defend himself by kicking and using a Torah as a shield. Although the attacker declared that the assault was in the name of the Islamic State, the New York Times notes, “The majority of Kurds oppose the Islamic State, so it was unclear what had motivated the teenager to carry out the attack.” Just this week, the Jewish Agency reported that Jewish immigration to Israel from Western Europe has reached an all-time high.

Bonus: Here’s how you can pray for the persecuted church in Nigeria. My ERLC colleague Matthew Hawkins provides in-depth analysis of the situation of persecuted Christians in Nigeria and gives practical, specific ways to pray for our Nigerian brothers and sisters.

Have suggestions for a top 5 article this week or think there’s an issue we should be covering? Email me at [email protected]

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