September 17, 2013

World reacts: Shooting sad but not surprising

Response is particularly strong in Britain, which tightened gun controls after a mass shooting.

By ANTHONY FAIOLA and KARLA ADAM The Washington Post

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From L-R: Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Sandy Winnefeld, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Martin Dempsey, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert arrive at a ceremony at the Navy Memorial in Washington, honoring the victims of an attack at the Navy Yard, at the Navy Memorial in Washington, September 17, 2013. Washington authorities questioned on Tuesday how a U.S. military veteran with a history of violence and mental problems could have gotten clearance to enter a Navy base where he killed 12 people before police shot him dead. (REUTERS/Mike Theiler)

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It's not as if Russians are unfamiliar with violence. Three police officers were killed and six others wounded in separate bombings Monday in the southern regions of Ingushetia and Chechnya. Pushkov didn't tweet about that, but he did note Tuesday that 35 people had been killed in violence in Iraq.

In Britain, Foreign Secretary William Hague offered condolences to relatives and friends of the victims, while Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted: "Tragic events at the Washington Navy Yard. My thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost loved ones."

Elsewhere, pundits reflected on the implications of the latest attack for President Barack Obama, and the likelihood of yet another bruising battle over curbing guns in America.

"The episode arrives at a particularly difficult moment for Obama," Antonio Cano wrote in a news analysis for Spain's El Pais. "The crisis in Syria, in which he has shown signs of indecision and weakness, has damaged his popularity. The president is in urgent need of a triumph to win back confidence."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent a letter to Obama on behalf of the Israeli people expressing "heartfelt condolences" and describing the attack as a "heinous crime."

The shooting was not big news in Israel, where armed security guards on school trips and soldiers with rifles commuting on city buses are common sights. In May, when a man shot dead four people at a bank, then turned the gun on himself, Israeli media labeled the shooter "an American-style lone gunman."

In Lebanon, news of the killings was overshadowed by the diplomatic push for Syria to relinquish its chemical weapons, which has eased concerns of a U.S. military strike on Damascus and the possible ramifications of such a strike for its smaller neighbor.

Najib Mitri, a prominent Lebanese blogger, said there was relief among Arabs that the shooter did not have a connection to the Middle East.

"What is happening in the area here is enough to tarnish our reputations already — the violence, the massacres. It's a relief that this is not another opportunity to label us this way," he said.

While Lebanon is no stranger to gun violence, plagued by corruption and groups that have not disarmed since the Lebanese civil war, the fact that a country like the United States was unable to prevent a gunman from breaching security at a naval base was unsettling, Mitri he said. He predicted a bolstered sense of national unity in the aftermath of the killings — something he said happened in Lebanon after recent bombings in southern Beirut and the northern city of Tripoli.

"The more you have weapons, the more you have crime," Mitri said. "When something like this happens in your country, you stop looking at the political picture, and all that matters is that it needs to be stopped."

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