Top of the Morning: Sectarian Kidnappings in Syria; a Terrible Day for Afghan Civilians

Top stories from the Development and Aid World News Service–DAWNS Digest 

Sectarian-Based Kidnappings on the Rise in Syria

A disturbing new trend in the Syrian civil war. “A series of hostage-takings aimed at Assad’s few remaining supporters — Iranians and Lebanese Shiites — has sought to both send a message about the rebels’ reach and try to buff their image with seeming propaganda stunts such as captives praising their treatment and denouncing Assad’s regime. It also underscores the broader regional rifts exposed by Syria’s civil war. Sunni powers such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia are strongly with the rebels, and Shiite giant Iran and its proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon are standing by Assad, whose minority Alawite community is an offshoot of Shiite Islam. The abductions suggest the Syrian conflict is taking on increasing sectarian overtones as the country lurches deeper into crisis. The U.N. says an estimated 2.5 million Syrians have been injured, displaced or face problems securing food or other necessities, a sharp rise from about 1 million three months ago.” (AP

At Least 43 Civilians Killed in Wave of Attacks in Afghanistan

This was the deadliest day for civilians this year, and it came as people were preparing for the holy day that marks the end of Ramadan. “The worst death toll came in the southwestern province of Nimruz, where suicide bombers struck the provincial capital, Zaranj, as people were thronging to the bazaar in the afternoon to shop for the Id al-Fitr holiday this weekend. The bombings killed at least 29 people and wounded 57, said Gen. Mohammed Musa Rasuli, the provincial police chief. In Kunduz Province in northern Afghanistan, a remotely detonated bomb on a motorcycle exploded in a bazaar just after the evening prayer that breaks the Ramadan fast, killing 10 people, said Sheikh Saadi, the district governor. The bombing occurred in Dasht-e-Archi, a district in the province’s west. And in Badakhshan Province, in the far northeast of the country, a district governor and three policemen were killed in a Taliban ambush as they were driving through a remote area, said Abdul Rasul Rasekh, a spokesman for the provincial governor.” (NYT