China: The police declared they cracked the case of the explosion at the south station of the Urumqi Railway Station on 30 April, following an all-out overnight investigation. The explosion caused three deaths, including both assailants, and injured 79 people.
The police confirmed it was a terror attack by two Uighur men, motivated by religious extremism.
Comment: This is the second attack in two months, which begins to create a baseline for dissident/terrorist capabilities. The last was the knife attack in Kunming in which 10 assailants killed 33 people and wounded 130 others.
The style of the attack suggests it was a suicide attack, but Chinese authorities are not describing it as such. The last suicide attack by Uighurs occurred in Beijing last November. Suicide attacks are a significant challenge to law and order authorities responsible for a population exceeding 1.3 billion.
Chinese President Xi directed another crackdown on the Uighurs in Xinjiang, but repeated crackdowns have not stopped the attacks.
Russia: For the record. Russia staged a huge May Day parade on Moscow's Red Square for the first time since the Soviet era. Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin told Rossiya 24 TV that more than 100,000 people marched through Red Square. "This is not by chance, because there is a patriotic uplift and a good mood in the country," he said.
Comment: The parade was a celebration of Crimea for having returned to Russia. Workers held signs praising President Putin. Incrementally, Putin is restoring many practices from the Soviet era, such as May Day parades. His behavior and decisions indicate he sees many of those activities and practices as Russian more than communist.
Russia-Baltic States: A spokesman for Russia's Western Military District said on 30 April that a newly formed Russian army helicopter brigade has begun training flights in the northwest of the country.
"Helicopters of the army aviation brigade of the Western Military District, based in the Pskov region, have begun regular training flights in the skies over northwestern Russia," Colonel Oleg Kochetkov said.
Kochetkov said the flights involve dozens of Mi-28N Night Hunter and Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopters as well as Mi-8MTV-5 and Mi-26T combat transport helicopters.
The 15th army aviation brigade, formed in December and stationed at the Ostrov airbase, is fully equipped with new, recently-built helicopters. The brigade currently comprises three helicopter squadrons, with two more to be added in the near future.
Comment: The location of the training is along the border of Estonia and Latvia. Although flight training by a new unit is routine, the location is deliberately provocative.
Ukraine: Acting president Oleksandr Turchynov signed a decree on 1 May that reintroduces compulsory military service.
Comment: In his comment yesterday, Turchynov said that his government must now take steps to prevent the spread of separatism. Today's decree clarifies what he has in mind.
The Russian government news agency RIANovosti published a report that Ukraine is planning a major offensive. According to an unnamed source in the Ukrainian General Staff, Ukrainian security forces have been tasked with storming separatist-controlled facilities and checkpoints on 2 May and regaining control "at any price." The source claimed that the head of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU), Valentyn Nalyvaychenko, will command the operation, which would use "special battalions" of the ultra-nationalist group Right Sector
The Russian Foreign Ministry posted a warning based on the RIA Novosti report.
"Moscow is extremely alarmed by mass media reports about the Kyiv regime's intention to carry out a special assault operation in the country's south-eastern regions and, on top of it, with the involvement of detachments of the ultranationalist Right Sector."
"Such irresponsible and aggressive actions by the current "Ukrainian government", if they are implemented, could lead to catastrophic consequences. Punitive measures against its own people would attest to the Kyiv leadership's inability to fulfil the obligations undertaken by it under the Geneva statement of 17 April this year in favor of the soonest possible cessation of any violence and launch of a broad nationwide dialogue involving all regions and political forces."
"We are urging Kyiv, as well as the USA and the EU, which are turning a blind eye to it and which signed the Geneva agreements, not to make criminal mistakes, soberly assess the whole gravity of possible consequences for the use of force against the Ukrainian people."
Comment: The RIA Novosti report is the second to mention operations involving fighters from Right Sector. A week ago several Russian open sources quoted Right Sector leader Yarosh as saying that his organization had moved its headquarters to eastern Ukraine and had begun training a special battalion for seizing check points and buildings. Yarosh also said Right Sector was working with the SBU.
Small attacks are within the capabilities of Right Sector, but it has shown no ability to organize large units and train them in military operations. The Russian Foreign Ministry, however, continues to produce propaganda that enables it to blame the Kyiv regime and its components for any clashes or other mishaps in eastern Ukraine.
Central African Republic: European Union (EU) troops have taken control of security at the Central African Republic's (CAR) main airport. French troops handed control of the airport in the capital, Bangui, to the EU force on Wednesday. Maj-Gen Philippe Ponties commands the unit which contains French and Estonian soldiers.
Comment: The press statement asserted that taking responsibility for the airport is the EU unit's first major operation. It is more correct to say airport security is its first mission. That means the unit never left the airport after its arrival. Nevertheless, it will free a French unit on airport security to leave the airport.
The some 7,000 French and African peacekeepers in CAR have presided over the near total purge of Muslims from the country. The CIA World Factbook lists CAR's population at 5.25 million with 15% Muslim. Many of them have left the country. The UN estimates 2.2 million people have been displaced, nearly half the population.
Nigeria: A car bomb attack in a suburb of Abuja on Thursday killed at least 19 people and injured many more. This was the second such attack in almost the same location since 14 April when 70 people died.
Comment: No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but the similarity tothe April attack suggests Boko Haram did it. . The Islamist militant group Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the April bombing.
Satellite imagery shows the car park is a commuter lot inside one leaf of a huge cloverleaf on a highway that leads to Abuja. It is unprotected and vulnerable. It is significant that Boko Haram has attacked twice in two weeks. That starts to define the capability of that bombing cell. The periodicity and the nature of the two attacks suggest it has local support.
End of NightWatch
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