19 September 1997

The Guelb El-Kebir massacre in Algeria kills 53 people.

The Guelb El-Kebir massacre took place in the village of Guelb el-Kebir, near Beni Slimane, in the Algerian province of Medea, on 19 September 1997. 53 people were killed by attackers that were not immediately identified, though the attack was similar to others carried out by Islamic groups opposed to the Algerian government.

An armed group killed 53 civilians early today and then mutilated and burned their bodies in the continuing wave of violence in Algeria, a newspaper reported.

The raid came after Algerian security forces killed 19 armed Islamic militants during raids on Friday and Saturday, witnesses and independent newspapers said today.

The latest killings of civilians took place in Beni-Slimane, about 40 miles south of Algiers, the daily newspaper Le Soir d’Algerie said.

There was no claim of responsibility for the attack, but similar killings have been committed by Islamic militants who are seeking to overthrow the military-backed Government.

On Saturday night, Government security forces killed three Islamic militants in Bab el Oued, an Algiers neighborhood. Three other militants were killed on Friday in a Mosque in the eastern suburbs of Algiers, two independent newspapers, L’Authentique and El Khabar, reported today.

The newspapers also reported that 13 Islamic activists were killed and several of their bunkers destroyed by Government forces on Friday and Saturday in Tizi Ouzou and Zbarbar regions, 60 miles south of Algiers.

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The Government has failed to suppress the militants, who began their insurgency in 1992 after the Algerian Army canceled legislative elections that fundamentalist parties were poised to win.

20 August 1997

Over 64 people are killed in the Souhane massacre in Algeria.

The largest of the Souhane massacres took place in the small mountain town of Souhane about 25 km south of Algiers, between Larbaa and Tablat on 20–21 August 1997. 64 people were killed, and 15 women kidnapped; the resulting terror provoked a mass exodus, bringing the town’s population down from 4000 before the massacre to just 103 in 2002.

Smaller-scale massacres later took place on November 27, 1997 18 men, 3 women, 4 children killed and 2 March 2000, when some 10 people from a single household were killed by guerrillas. The massacres were blamed on Islamist groups such as the GIA.

11 December 1997

The Kyoto Protocol is ready for signature.

The Kyoto Protocol is an international treaty which extends the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that commits State Parties to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, based on the scientific consensus that global warming is occurring and it is extremely likely that human-made CO2 emissions have predominantly caused it. The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on December 11, 1997 and entered into force on February 16, 2005. There are currently 192 parties to the Protocol.

The Kyoto Protocol implemented the objective of the UNFCCC to fight global warming by reducing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere to “a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”. The Protocol is based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities: it puts the obligation to reduce current emissions on developed countries on the basis that they are historically responsible for the current levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

The Protocol’s first commitment period started in 2008 and ended in 2012. A second commitment period was agreed on in 2012, known as the Doha Amendment to the protocol, in which 37 countries have binding targets: Australia, the European Union, Belarus, Iceland, Kazakhstan, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, and Ukraine. Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine have stated that they may withdraw from the Protocol or not put into legal force the Amendment with second round targets. Japan, New Zealand and Russia have participated in Kyoto’s first-round but have not taken on new targets in the second commitment period. Other developed countries without second-round targets are Canada and the United States. As of July 2016, 66 states have accepted the Doha Amendment, while entry into force requires the acceptances of 144 states. Of the 37 countries with binding commitments, 7 have ratified.

Negotiations were held in the framework of the yearly UNFCCC Climate Change Conferences on measures to be taken after the second commitment period ends in 2020. This resulted in the 2015 adoption of the Paris Agreement, which is a separate instrument under the UNFCCC rather than an amendment of the Kyoto protocol.

13 June 1997

Timothy McVeigh is sentenced by the jury to death for his part in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

Prosecutor Joseph Hartzler began his opening statement in the Timothy McVeigh trial by reminding the jury of the terror and the heartbreak: “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, April 19th, 1995, was a beautiful day in Oklahoma City at least it started out as a beautiful day. The sun was shining. Flowers were blooming. It was springtime in Oklahoma City. Sometime after six o’clock that morning, Tevin Garrett’s mother woke him up to get him ready for the day. He was only 16 months old. He was a toddler; and as some of you know that have experience with toddlers, he had a keen eye for mischief. He would often pull on the cord of her curling iron in the morning, pull it off the counter top until it fell down, often till it fell down on him. That morning, she picked him up and wrestled with him on her bed before she got him dressed. She remembers this morning because that was the last morning of his life….”

A bomb carried in a Ryder truck exploded in front of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City at 9:02 a.m. on April 19, 1995. The bomb claimed 168 innocent lives. That a homegrown, war-decorated American terrorist named Timothy McVeigh drove and parked the Ryder truck in the handicap zone in front of the Murrah Building there is little doubt. In 1997, a jury convicted McVeigh and sentenced him to death. The federal government, after an investigation involving 2,000 agents, also charged two of McVeigh’s army buddies, Michael Fortier and Terry Nichols, with advance knowledge of the bombing and participation in the plot. Despite considerable evidence linking various militant white supremacists to the tragedy in Oklahoma City, no other persons faced prosecution for what was–until September 11, 2001–the worst act of terrorism ever on American soil.