Updated September 29 at 1:35 p.m.
Welcome to Friday, where a suspected suicide bomb blast at a procession kills dozens in Pakistan, the Dutch city of Rotterdam is shaken by twin shootings, and sandals found in a bat cave in Spain turn out to be really, really old. Meanwhile, we look at how Russia's mercenary model for warfare will survive the death of Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin.
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• At least 52 killed in blast at Pakistan rally: A suspected suicide bomb blast Friday killed at least 52 people at a procession to celebrate the birthday of Prophet Muhammad in Pakistan’s Balochistan province. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet.
• Putin meets former Wagner top commander Troshev: Russian President Vladimir Putin met Andrei Troshev, one of the most senior ex-commanders of the Wagner mercenary group, on Friday to ask him to oversee volunteer fighter units in Ukraine. Troshev, who was a former aide of late Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, is now working for the defense ministry, the Kremlin said. For more, see our Story of the Day below.
• Suspect arrested in Rotterdam twin shootings that killed three: Dutch police have apprehended a man thought to have killed at least three people in twin shootings yesterday in the port city of Rotterdam. The 32-year-old suspect allegedly first opened fire in a home and set it on fire, killing a woman and her daughter, before storming the Erasmus Medical Center, killing a man. Motives are as of yet unknown, although the suspect is thought to be a student at the city’s Erasmus University, with which the hospital is affiliated.
• Blinken meets with Indian foreign minister to urge cooperation with Canada: India’s foreign minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, was in Washington DC to meet U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who has urged India to cooperate with a Canadian investigation into the killing of a prominent Sikh Canadian leader. A diplomatic row had erupted between India and Canada after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that Ottawa was investigating “credible allegations of a potential link” between India and the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
• Sweden turns to military as gang violence surge: Sweden’s prime minister announced he has summoned the head of the Swedish armed forces and the police commissioner in a bid to stem gang violence, after a wave of attacks has left 11 dead so far this month. “Sweden has never before seen anything like this,” Sweden’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said.
• Record number of migrants crossing Panama's Darien Gap: The number of migrants crossing the dangerous Darien Gap which links Panama and Colombia has hit a record annual high of 402,300 through September — almost double the number of the whole of 2022. According to data released by Panama, most migrants come from Venezuela, as well as Ecuador and Haiti, and half are children and babies. Read more on the migrants undertaking the perilous journey to reach the U.S.
• Europe's oldest shoe found in bat cave: Scientist analyzing objects discovered in a bat cave in in Andalusia, southwestern Spain, have identified Europe's oldest shoes, sandals woven from grass thought to be around 6,000 years old.
“Shivers through Rotterdam,” reads the front page of Dutch daily Trouw, after the port city was shocked by twin shootings. Police arrested a 32-year-old male suspected to have opened fire at a home, killing a woman and her daughter, before storming the city’s Erasmus Medical Center, killing a man.
French actor Gérard Depardieu, who is currently involved in a number of sexual abuse allegations, brought in over $4 million on Wednesday with the sale of his art collection through the Parisian auction house Ader. More than 95% of the 250-plus lots were sold, including pieces by Pablo Picasso, David Hockney and Ossip Zadkine.
Wagner Group 2.0: why Russia's mercenary system is here to stay
Many had predicted that the death last month of Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin meant the demise of the mercenary outfit. Yet signs in recent days say the private military outfit is active again in Ukraine, a reminder of the Kremlin's interest in continuing a private fighting formula that has worked all around the world.
🇷🇺 How could an independent military outfit survive after its charismatic founder's death? It seemed highly unlikely that President Vladimir Putin would allow the survival of a group after had launched a short-lived coup attempt in late June that most outside observers believe led to Prigozhin's private airplane being shot down by Russian forces on August 23. "Wagner is over,” said the Kremlin critic and Russian political commentator Maksim Katz. Yet barely a month later, and there are already multiple signs that the Wagner phoenix is rising from the ashes.
🇺🇦 In recent days, fighters affiliated with Wagner have once again been spotted on the battlefield near Bakhmut in the Russian-occupied Donetsk region, according to a Ukrainian drone operator. This confirmation supports earlier reports from Russian sources regarding the resurgence of Wagner mercenaries near the strategic city in eastern Ukraine. This marks the first official confirmation of the Wagner Group's reappearance in Ukraine.
🌐 For more than a decade, Russia has built up a system of independent mercenary groups that were deployed for covert military operations in various global hotspots. Though the best-know, Wagner was hardly the only such outfit. These groups have operated with a level of deniability for the Russian government, allowing Moscow to pursue its geopolitical interests without direct military intervention. Their activities spanned from Ukraine to Syria, Libya, and several African nations.
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“If you shush up, I’ll meet with you immediately after this.”
— Joe Biden had a pretty direct reaction to a climate protester demanding a stronger federal response to climate change while the U.S. president was giving a speech in Arizona. After initially saying he would be happy to meet up after his speech, the heckling continued, leading Biden to his “shush up” quip — a response that was met with laughter and applause, as he went on to joke that “Democracy is never easy.”
• Kosovo, A New Theater For Russia's War With The West? — WORLDCRUNCH
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