Bus Crashes & Terror Attacks

Title: Gunmen Kill 19 On Ethiopian Bus In Gambella Region
March 13, 2012

Abstract: Gunmen have attacked a public bus in western Ethiopia, killing 19 male passengers, officials say.

One report said the attackers kidnapped five female passengers during their assault on the bus, 20km (12 miles) from the town of Gambella.

Some of the other passengers were injured.

Officials did not speculate as to a reason for the attack. Gambella province has a history of conflicts between communities.

State-owned Ethiopia TV said the attack happened early on Monday.

The report said there were 34 passengers on board at the time.

Security forces have been sent to the area to track down the gunmen and try to find the hostages.

Omod Obang Olum, head of the local government, said the victims were Ethiopian residents travelling in a public bus.

He was quoted by the AP news agency as saying the bus was ambushed near a town called Bonga, and that the attackers were carrying machine guns.

The AP report did not mention any hostages being taken (BBC, 2012).

Title: Shock Swiss Bus Crash Kills 28, Most Children
March 14, 2012

A bus carrying Belgian students crashed into a tunnel wall in Switzerland, killing 28 people, 22 of which were children.

­Another 24 students were taken to hospital with injuries, local police say.  

The bus was carrying 12-year-olds from two schools back from a ski holiday in the southwestern region of Valais when it crashed on Tuesday evening. The cause of the accident has yet to be determined.

The bus was not speeding at the time of the accident, nor was other vehicle involved, local prosecutor Olivier Elsig told reporters Wednesday. He also said that all the children on the bus were wearing seat belts.

Police reported that the bus veered, hit a curb and then crashed into a concrete wall. The front of the vehicle was heavily damaged by the impact, leaving people trapped inside.  

The highway was closed for traffic as the rescue operation was underway, AP reported. Some eight helicopters and a dozen ambulances took victims to the hospital. Dozens of firefighters and police, 15 doctors and three psychologists were also called to the scene.

Belgium has announced a day of national mourning after the tragic news broke. The country’s Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo is to travel to Switzerland, local RTBF TV channel reports. The government has offered all necessary assistance to the victims and their families (RT, 2012).

Title: 20 Shiites Forced Off Buses, Killed In Northern Pakistan, Officials Say
August 16, 2012
CBS News

A Pakistani official says gunmen forced 20 Shiites off buses in northern Pakistan and killed them.

The police official said the incident happened Thursday in the Naran Valley.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was worried about retribution.

The Deputy Inspector General of police in Gilgit, Ali Sher, said the victims were traveling from Rawalpindi, near the capital Islamabad, to Gilgit, a mostly Shiite area.

There have been several such sectarian attacks in the region in the past. Many Sunni extremists do not view Shiites as true Muslims.

CBS News' Farhan Bokhari reports the attack comes at a sensitive time for predominantly Muslim Pakistan. On Friday, the country's Muslims will celebrate Jumatul wida - the last Friday of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which is an occasion that typically sees large gatherings of friends and family.

A senior government official tells CBS News Thursday's attack could provoke Shiite protests on Friday, and increase sectarian tension across the country.

Though a minority in comparison to Pakistan's Sunni Muslim majority, Shiites comprise a significant portion of the nation's population - between one fifth and one third of the populace, depending on the estimate.

Thursday's attack also comes on the heels of a brazen siege by the Pakistani Taliban - one of the most active Sunni insurgent groups in the region - on one of the nation's most important air force bases.

A team of nine Taliban militants attacked the base, which has suspected links to the country's nuclear program, before dawn on Thursday, killing a security official in a heavy battle that ended with the insurgents dead and parts of the base in flames, officials said.

The attack on the base in Kamra, located only about 25 miles northwest of the capital Islamabad, was a reminder of the threat posed by the Pakistani Taliban despite numerous military offensives against their sanctuaries along the Afghan border.

The large air base hosts a variety of fighter jets, including F-16s, and contains a factory that makes aircraft and other weapons systems. Some experts suspect the base could be linked to Pakistan's nuclear arsenal because of the weapons development there and the presence of jets that could be used to deploy the bombs. The army has denied the base has any links, but the nuclear program's secret nature makes independent evaluation difficult.

The safety of the country's nuclear weapons has been a major concern for the United States. Western experts say Pakistan has about 100 nuclear weapons and is in the midst of a rapid expansion of its arsenal.

"The great danger we've always feared is that, you know, if terrorism is not controlled in their country, that those nuclear weapons could fall into the wrong hands," U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters at the Pentagon on Tuesday.

The militants, some of whom were wearing explosives strapped to their bodies, attacked the base at around 2 a.m. with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades, according to the air force.

At least one of the rockets hit a hanger holding a number of aircraft said air force spokesman, Tariq Mahmood. The rocket pierced the hanger wall, and shrapnel from the explosion damaged one of the aircraft parked inside.

After the rocket barrage, the attackers scaled the wall surrounding the air base, said Mahmood.

Guards inside the base then opened fire on the militants, and an intense firefight ensued, he said. In the initial exchange of gunfire one Pakistani soldier was killed.

Security forces, backed by a team of elite commandos, fought the militants for two hours and were finally able to retake the base, the air force said.

Nine militants and one security personnel were killed in the fighting. The head of the base, Air Commodore Muhammad Azam, was wounded in the shoulder, said Mahmood (CBS News, 2012).

Title: 1 Dead, 6 Seriously Injured In Arizona Tour Bus Crash
October 20, 2012
Fox News

A tour bus careened off the road and crashed in northwest Arizona late Friday night, killing the driver and leaving six passengers with serious injuries, authorities said.

About 45 other passengers were less seriously hurt and not all of them required hospital treatment, the Arizona Highway Patrol said.

The crash occurred shortly before 8 p.m. PDT on Highway 93 near Willow Beach, about 20 miles from the Nevada state line and 40 miles southeast of Las Vegas.

The bus was northbound when it went off the road and into a ravine. No other vehicles were involved.

"We believed the driver experienced some sort of the medical condition and he just went off the road," the patrol said.

The six most seriously hurt were flown by helicopter to University Medical Center in Las Vegas, while 15 others passengers with less severe injuries were rushed to area hospitals by road.

UMC spokewoman Danita Cohen said the six were being treated for nonlife-threatening injuries, such as broken bones and lacerations. She described them as being mostly over 50 years old.

The patrol statement said officers were trying to determine what happened to the bus after it went off the roadway. The front end was heavily damaged.

Four hours after the crash, the bus was sitting upright about 30 feet off the shoulder of the road.

It appeared to have at first gone down a ravine before traveling up an embankment.

The highway near the crash site was reduced to one lane of traffic.

A bus crash nearby nearly four years ago killed seven people.

Authorities said a charter bus carrying a group of Chinese tourists on a return trip to Las Vegas from the Grand Canyon on Jan. 30, 2009, crashed on U.S. 93 near Hoover Dam. Ten others were injured, including the driver (Fox News, 2012).

Title: Bus Overturns In Southwest Iran Leaving 26 Dead
October 20, 2012
Fox News

A passenger bus carrying female students overturned in southwestern Iran Friday evening, killing 26, Iran's state radio reported Saturday.

Senior police official Col. Mohammad Reza Mehmandar, was quoted as saying that the driver lost control of the bus because of high speed in rainy weather. Mehmandar said 19 others were injured in the accident. They were rushed to hospitals for treatment.

The accident took place on the Izeh-Lordegan road, about 310 miles southwest of the capital Tehran.

Iran has one of the world's worst traffic safety records, with more than 400,000 accidents and about 20,000 deaths on its roads every year. The high death tolls are blamed on high speed, unsafe vehicles, widespread disregard of traffic laws and inadequate emergency services (Fox News, 2012).

Title: Official: Gunmen Kill 18 In Pakistan Bus Attack
November 2, 2012
Fox News

Gunmen riding on two motorcycles opened fire on a bus at a small fuel station in southwest Pakistan on Friday, igniting a massive blaze and leaving 18 dead, a Pakistani official said.

Abdul Mansoor Kakar said all 16 people on the bus, including eight women and three children, were killed and the bodies badly burned. The vehicle had been parked next to fuel drums that ignited during the attack, starting a fire that engulfed the bus and killed two in a nearby car.

The attack took place in the town of Khuzdar in the province of Baluchistan.

No one claimed responsibility and the motive of the attack was unclear, Kakar said, adding that the incident was under investigation but no arrests were made.

Khuzdar is located 300 kilometers (180 miles) south of Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province. The region has experienced a decades-long insurgency by nationalists who demand greater autonomy and a larger share of the province's natural resources.

The province is also thought to be home to many Afghan Taliban militants (Fox News, 2012).