Night Watch

Pakistan: At least 45 people died and 150 were injured by a bomb explosion in Karachi on 3 March, according to a police report. The explosion occurred in a predominantly Shia Muslim neighborhood, near a mosque as people were leaving evening prayers.

No group has claimed responsibility.

Comment: Karachi is the most violent city in Pakistan, but bombings such as this are not common. Adding the Karachi casualties to those in Quetta since mid-January, nearly 250 people, most Shia Muslims, have died from three terrorist attacks.

Mali-France: For the record. A French soldier died fighting Islamist militants in northern Mali over the weekend, the French government admitted. The paratrooper was killed on Saturday "assaulting an enemy position" in the Adrar des Ifoghas mountains on the Algerian border.

He is the third French serviceman to die since the start of the French military operations in January.

Mali-Chad: On Saturday the Chadian army said its troops killed Mokhtar Belmokhtar. He is the Islamist leader who was behind the attack on the gas plant in Algeria in January in which at least 37 hostages were killed.

The Chadians said he was killed on the fighting during the week of 26 February in the same mountainous region as the French soldier who died over the weekend.

Comment: Neither French nor American officials have confirmed Belmokhtar's death. His death would be a major setback to Islamist and smuggling activities in Sahelian Africa.

Europe:

Bulgaria: Tens of thousands of people protested against poverty and corruption in cities across Bulgaria on 3 March.

Italy: The leader of Italy's Five Star Movement, Beppe Grillo, said in an interview that he supports the idea of an online vote on Italy's membership in the eurozone because such a decision should be up to the Italian people.

Portugal: On Saturday, organizers said as many as 500,000 protested in Lisbon, and hundreds of thousands more in other towns and cities. The protests coincided with a visit by inspectors from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, which required austerity measures as a condition for a 78bn-euro bailout in 2011.

Comment: The Italian elections, as a referendum against austerity, might have provided the impetus for a chain reaction of similar protests across Europe. The danger is that some European cities will become much less stable.

End of NightWatch ###

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