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In 2015, there were some inspiring – and some terrifying – stories that made the news. We round up 2015’s headlines as we review the year in brief.
Terror in Paris
On 7 January, two brothers went into the office of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Armed with assault rifles, they killed 11 people and injured 11 more.
A branch of al-Qaeda in Yemen took responsibility for the attacks and targeted Charlie Hebdo for its satire depicting the Prophet Mohammed. A two-day manhunt ended in the deaths of the brothers after they took hostages at a signage company.
On 11 January, two million people, including 40 world leaders, met in Paris for a rally of national unity. Social media exploded with #JeSuisCharlie in a sign of solidarity with the rights of free speech. In this spirit, the staff of Charlie Hebdo continued with their publication – printing nearly 8,000,000 copies in six languages, compared to their normal 60,000 in French only.
Sadly this was not the only terror incident in France’s capital. On the evening of Friday 13 November, a series of coordinated attacks occurred in Paris beginning at 21.20 Parisian time. Three suicide bombers struck near the Stade de France, where fans including President Francois Hollonde were watching a football friendly between France and Germany.
The explosions could be heard inside the arena and in homes where the match was being watched. Elsewhere in the city, gunmen targeted restaurants and cafes, killing 25 and injuring 32. At 21.40, a mass shooting and hostage situation occurred at the Bataclan Theatre, where the Eagles of Death were playing to an audience of 1,500.
The initial attack on the theatre lasted 20 minutes. Footage emerged of survivors escaping through windows and the emergency exits.
When police surrounded the theatre, the terrorists had around 100 hostages and threatened to decapitate and throw a body off the roof every five minutes. Just after midnight, the French authorities raided the theatre in a three-minute assault. 89 people died there.
A total of 130 people died, with responsibility claimed by the terror group Islamic State. They stated it was in retaliation to the French Air strikes on I.S. in Syria.
European Refugee Crisis
As the Syrian civil war reached its fifth year, with the country torn between the Assad government and opposition factions including I.S., 2015 saw a rising number of refugees making the journey to Europe. The refugees entered through Turkey or the Greek Island of Lesbos.
As of December 2015, the make-up of refugees according the UN Commissioner for refugees was 50% Syrian, 20% Afghan and 7% Iraqi. The E.U. had to intervene when five boats carrying 2,000 refugees sank in the Mediterranean Sea. It was estimated that 1,200 died.
The influx of refugees saw E.U. countries tighten border controls, with Germany, France and Sweden taking the bulk of refugees. David Cameron came under heavy criticism for saying Britain would accept 20,000 over five years from refugee camps in and around Syria.
Germany took in 40,000 child refugees alone in 2015 with Chancellor Angela Merkel stating the German economy was tough enough to take 500,000 refugees.
After the November attacks in Paris, the near open door policies of Germany and Sweden have changed, with limits now being imposed.
America’s gun problem
On 3 December it was reported that America had more mass shootings than there had been days in the year thus far, when a shoot-out in San Bernardino became the 355th. 14 people were killed and 17 others injured, with Islamic State deemed responsible.
Other significant shootings in 2015 included the Charleston shooting, where a 21-year old opened fire in a racially motivated attack inside a church, killing nine people. This triggered the on-air killing of news reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward by a disgruntled employee, who filmed himself walking up to them with his gun in his hand. He later posted this video online before killing himself during a car chase with police.
Meanwhile, police have continued to come under fire for shooting and killing unarmed members of the African-American community. Over 1,130 US citizens have been killed by police in 2015, many of them with firearms, and 300 of them black, including transgender woman Mya Hall and 16-year old Kendre Alston. 29 police officers have also been shot dead in the line of duty in the year to date.