Highlights of world events from April to June 2015

World events during the second quarter of the year include an attack on a Kenyan university, a gunman targeting tourists on a Tunisian beach and, after decades of hostility, a handshake between the leaders of the United States and Cuba.

LAGOS, NIGERIA (REUTERS) – At the beginning of April, three decades after seizing power in a military coup, Muhammadu Buhari became the first Nigerian to oust a president through the ballot box, putting him in charge of Africa’s biggest economy and one of its most turbulent democracies.

Buhari won the election with 15.4 million votes to outgoing president Goodluck Jonathan’s 13.3 million, a margin wide enough to prevent any challenge. Buhari congratulated Jonathan for peacefully relinquishing power.

On April 2, al Shabaab gunmen killed 148 people in an attack on Garissa University in northeast Kenya, the worst militant attack in the east African nation in almost two decades.

Students’ clothes and shoes were scattered around the heavily damaged campus. Bullet holes were seen in the walls of dormitories. Walls and floors were still stained with blood.

Kenya has struggled to stop the flow of militants and weapons across its porous 700-km border with Somalia, and the violence has also damaged the economy by scaring away tourists and investors.

April 4 saw a total lunar eclipse turn the moon blood red as it passed the earth’s shadow.

Eclipses occur two or three times per year when the sun, Earth and the full moon line up so that the moon passes through Earth’s shadow.

The round disk of the full Moon slowly moved into the dark shadow, and the bright Moon grew dim. The Moon, however, did not become completely dark. Instead, it glowed with a faint copper or red colour, a result of sunlight being filtered and bent through the Earth’s atmosphere.

After decades of hostility between the United States and Cuba, President Barack Obama and his Cuban counterpart, Raul Castro, shook hands at the Summit of the Americas on April 10.

It was a symbolically charged gesture as the pair sought to restore ties between two Cold War foes.

The next day, the two men sat side by side to hold talks, the mood cordial but businesslike.

Apart from a couple of brief, informal encounters, the leaders of the US and Cuba have not had any significant meetings since the Castro brothers toppled U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista and then steered their Caribbean country into a close alliance with the Soviet Union.

Video was published on a social media website on April 11 purporting to show Islamic State militants destroying the ancient Assyrian City of Nimrud in Iraq.

Reuters reported on March 6 that Islamic State fighters had looted Nimrud in one of their several assaults on some of the world’s greatest archaeological and cultural treasures.

The video showed IS militants using sledgehammers, electric drills and an electric saw to destroy the artefacts before blowing up one site with a large amount of explosives.

Reuters is unable to independently verify the content of the video, which was obtained from a social media website.

Nimrud, about 20 miles (30 km) south of Mosul, was built around 1250 BC. Four centuries later it became capital of the neo-Assyrian empire – at the time the most powerful state on Earth, extending to modern-day Egypt, Turkey and Iran.

Saudi Arabia shelled Houthi positions in Yemen with heavy artillery in April, as fighting continued in the region. The Saudis had stepped up security at the border between the two countries; tanks, artillery units and border guards all in evidence in the Jazan Region on April 13.

Saudi Arabia has led an alliance of Sunni Arab countries in air strikes against the Iran-allied Shi’ite Houthi rebel group and army units loyal to ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

In Yemen’s Ibb province, Saudi shells destroyed a stadium, while video obtained by Reuters showed an air strike targeting a Scud missile base in Sanaa.

Residents said it was the largest explosion in more than three weeks of bombing by the Saudi-led coalition.

In Taiz, a group calling themselves the Popular Resistance exchanged fierce fire with Houthi forces. The fighters claim loyalty to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi who was then in exile in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The war threatens to turn Yemen into a failed state and spread sectarian strife in the Middle East, where the regional heavyweights — Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Iran — are vying for influence.

Combat rages across a tangled front covering hundreds of miles of coastline, mountains and deserts.

An Italian patrol ship arrived in Malta on April 20 with 24 corpses recovered after a migrant boat capsized in the Mediterranean, in one of the worst disasters that had yet been reported in a growing crisis.

The death toll from the shipwreck off the coast of Libya was uncertain after officials said there had been at least 700 people on board, some reportedly locked in the hold.

The 27 survivors of the shipwreck disembarked in the Sicilian port of Catania.

Meanwhile the Italian coastguard continued to rescue hundreds of migrants from packed dinghies in the Mediterranean in several operations. On April 22, 545 migrants were taken to the Italian port town of Salerno, while 446 arrived in Sicily’s Augusta.

The Calbuco Volcano in the southern Los Lagos region of Chile erupted twice in 24 hours in late April sending up a spectacular 17 kilometre-high (11 miles) cloud and coating nearby towns in a thick layer of gray ash.

Calbuco is considered one of the most dangerous along Chile’s chain of around 2,000 volcanoes. It spewed 210 million tonnes of ashes in the immediate surroundings, according to the National Service of Geology and Mining, coating nearby towns and prompting the evacuation of more than 6,500 locals.

Chile, situated on the so-called Pacific Rim of Fire, has the second largest chain of volcanoes in the world after Indonesia, including around 500 that are potentially active.

A 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit Nepal on April 25, killing thousands and demolishing more than half a million homes.

Video filmed by U.S. mountaineer Kevin Krogh showed the moment the earthquake hit a tea-house in the village of Kyanjin Gompa in Langtang National Park. Another amateur video showed the moment mountain climbers at the base camp of Mount Everest in the Himalayas ran for cover as an avalanche triggered by the earthquake approached.

Among the capital’s landmarks destroyed in the earthquake was the 60-metre-high (100 feet) Dharahara Tower, built in 1832 for the queen of Nepal, with a viewing balcony that had been open to visitors for the last 10 years.

On April 29, an Indonesian firing squad executed eight drug traffickers, including seven foreigners, sparking condemnation from Australia and Brazil who had made final, desperate pleas to save their nationals.

Four Nigerians, two Australians, a Brazilian and an Indonesian were executed in a forest clearing near the prison, as family members held a candle-light vigil within earshot of the firing range.

The Australians were Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan.

The mass execution cements the hard line on enforcing the death penalty adopted by Indonesian President Joko Widodo as part of his war on drugs, an approach criticized by the United Nations as applying double-standards.

On April 27, the U.S. city of Baltimore erupted in violence as hundreds of rioters looted stores, set buildings on fire and injured at least 15 police officers following the funeral of a 25-year-old black man who died after he was injured in police custody.

Officers arrested Freddie Gray on April 12 after a foot chase in crime-ridden West Baltimore. He was bundled into a transport van while in handcuffs and shackles and was not secured with a seatbelt. Gray died a week later from a spinal injury and a medical examiner ruled the death a homicide.

His death reignited a public outcry over police treatment of African Americans that flared last year after the killings of unarmed black men in Ferguson, New York City and elsewhere.

On May 2, Britain’s Duchess of Cambridge, the wife of Prince William, gave birth to a girl, the couple’s second child who is fourth in line to the British throne. She was later named Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, a choice that honoured the baby’s late grandmother Princess Diana and her great-grandmother Queen Elizabeth.

British Prime Minister David Cameron swept to a stunning election victory on May 7, confounding forecasts that the vote would be the closest in decades and winning a clear majority that left his Labour opponents in tatters. The scale of his triumph surpassed his party’s most optimistic projections.

A series of tornadoes hit Texas on May 10, with aerial footage showing an expanse of destroyed homes and debris left behind in the wake of the twisters. Two men in a pickup truck were rescued by the National Guard when their vehicle was submerged by fast-flowing flood waters.

On May 12 an Amtrak passenger train derailed in north Philadelphia. Eight people were killed and more than 200 injured.

It was barrelling into a curved stretch of track at 100-plus miles per hour, twice the speed limit, when the engineer slammed on the brakes, U.S. investigators said at the time.

The reason the train accelerated from 70 miles per hour (113 km per hour) to above 100 mph (161 kph) in the minute before the crash remains a mystery. Authorities have not ruled out equipment malfunction or human error as possible reasons for the train gaining speed so rapidly.

On May 13 Burundian Major General Godefroid Niyombare said he had deposed President Pierre Nkurunziza after more than two weeks of protests against his bid to stand for a third term in office.

The protesters said the bid violated the two-term limit outlined in the country’s constitution.

A day later, Army Chief of Staff General Prime Niyongabo said the coup had failed, and Nkurunziza returned to Burundi from Tanzania where he had been attending a summit of African leaders.

Protests against Nkurunziza continued.

After fierce battles between Iraqi troops and Islamic State fighters, the city of Ramadi fell to the militants on May 17. The Iraqi army beat a chaotic retreat from the city in Iraq’s Anbar province, the capture of which marked a fresh low in the country’s fight against IS.

About 500 people were killed in the fight for Ramadi and between 6,000 and 8,000 fled. Displaced families gathered outside Baghdad, waiting to cross the Euphrates River towards the capital.

Iraqi Military of Defence video showed more than 20 soldiers being rescued from the city.

May saw thousands of ethnic Rohingya, a Muslim minority group from majority Buddhist Myanmar, adrift in the Andaman Sea. Desperate people fleeing persecution were crammed aboard overloaded boats with little food or water after Thailand launched a crackdown on people-smuggling gangs. Other countries were unwilling or unable to accept them.

Myanmar does not recognize its 1.1 million-strong Rohingya minority as citizens, rendering them effectively stateless. Many have fled the apartheid-like conditions of the country’s Rakhine state. Myanmar denies it discriminates against them.

The crisis blew up after the crackdown made it too risky for people smugglers to land their human cargo. Smugglers abandoned the boats full of migrants at sea.

On May 16 a Thai navy vessel towed a boat crammed with migrants away from Thailand, one of a number of vessels pushed back to sea by governments who ignored a U.N. call for an immediate rescue.

In recent years trafficked Rohingya have been held in remote camps in the dense forests of southern Thailand and northern Malaysia. Following the crackdown, the remains of hundreds of suspected victims of people smugglers were discovered in shallow graves at camps which had been abandoned.

On May 23 Ireland became the first country in the world to adopt same-sex marriage by popular vote when its people backed same-sex marriage by a landslide in a referendum.

After one of the largest turnouts in a referendum, 62 percent of voters said ‘Yes’.

More than 400 people died after a cruise ship capsized during a freak tornado on China’s Yangtze River on June 1. Most of the passengers were elderly tourists.

Turkey faced the prospect of weeks of political turmoil after the ruling AK Party lost its parliamentary majority in June 7 polls, dealing a blow to President Tayyip Erdogan’s ambitions to acquire sweeping new powers.

Instead of the two-thirds majority he had wanted, to change the constitution and create a new presidential republic, the AK Party, while remaining the biggest party, failed even to achieve a simple majority.

Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) entered parliament for the first time after winning 13 percent of the vote.

Floods which hit Georgia on June 14 saw dozens of animals escape their destroyed zoo in the capital Tbilisi.

Locals had been told to stay indoors immediately after the flood allowed the animals, including wolves, lions and a hippopotamus, to roam the streets.

It took several days to round up the animals, but not before one man was killed by an escaped white tiger. The tiger was later shot.

At least 19 other people were killed by the floods. More than 300 animals escaped or died.

An Egyptian court sentenced deposed President Mohamed Mursi to death on June 16 over a mass jail break during the country’s 2011 uprising, and issued sweeping punishments against the leadership of Egypt’s oldest Islamic group. The sentence was part of a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood launched after an army takeover stripped Mursi of power in 2013 following mass protests against his rule. He later appealed the sentence.

On June 17 a gunman opened fire at an historic African-American church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, killing nine people.

The suspect, Dylann Roof, was arrested the next day.

The massacre triggered soul-searching over race relations in the U.S. South, with its history of slavery and segregation. A long debate about the Confederate flag came to a head, when photos of Roof draped in the flag surfaced on a website with a racist manifesto. South Carolina removed the flag, a Civil War-era symbol, from the state house grounds.

At the funeral for the pastor of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Reverend Clementa Pinckney, President Obama delivered the eulogy and led the mourners in a rendition of “Amazing Grace”.

Thirty-nine people were killed when a gunman opened fire on holidaymakers in Tunisia on June 26.

The attack, near the Imperial Marhaba hotel in the resort town of Sousse, was claimed by Islamic State.

The gunman, later named as Saif Rezgui, dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, opened fire with a rifle he had hidden in an umbrella at British, German, Belgian and Irish tourists as they lounged at the beach and pool.

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