PAKISTAN: In perhaps the deadliest assault on Christians in Pakistan, Islamic militants bombed a church yesterday, killing at least 78 people. Two suicide bombers struck All Saints Church in Peshawar, the heart of Taliban and al-Qaeda activity in Pakistan. Today the principal of Edwardes College, the only college of the Church of Pakistan, located less than two miles from All Saints, reported on his blog that students and alumni were among the dead.
KENYA: Witnesses heard an explosion and fresh gunfire this hour as a siege at Nairobi’s Westgate Mall enters its second day with reports that most hostages have been freed. Kenyan Defense Forces and police have surrounded the area to end the hostage situation that began after Somali-linked Al-Shabaab gunmen attacked the mall Saturday afternoon. At least 68 are reported dead and over 175 injured.
New York Times photographer Tyler Hicks was nearby shopping himself on Saturday, and followed his instincts into the shopping mall, where he caught one-of-a-kind images of the attack underway (warning: graphic images).
Westgate Mall is a popular Saturday destination for students of Rift Valley Academy and other groups catering to Western workers and Christian missionaries in East Africa. I report on the attack from that perspective here.
Al-Shabaab has claimed the lives of at least eight Somali Christians in public shootings and one beheading this year.
A Kenyan government investigation in 2010 found that Somali pirates were laundering money through real estate development in Nairobi—some of it in the Westgate Mall vicinity—and trebling property prices in the process.
EGYPT: More than a thousand Copts yesterday attended services at the Virgin Mary and Anba Abraam Monastery in the village of Delga, the Upper Egypt town attacked by Islamists. It was the first Sunday mass in the monastery since Aug. 14, when Islamists torched it.
GERMANY: Chancellor Angela Merkel won big in nationwide elections, winning 41.5 percent of the vote in an unexpectedly strong finish that secures her third term leading conservatives—and puts her on track as the longest-serving female head of state in Europe, alongside British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. She is just the third post-war chancellor to win three elections.
CHINA: Authorities sentenced former top Communist Party official Bo Xilai to life in prison for corruption after one of the highest-profile political trials of recent years.