The United States bombed caves in eastern Afghanistan, which were believed to be occupied by Islamic State (ISIS) fighters, on Thursday. The move came a week after U.S. airstrikes struck an air force base in Syria, giving rise to speculation over what President Donald Trump’s next step will be.
The uncertainty was reflected on the internet, where it translated into a spike in Google searches for the term “World War 3,” possibly related to the escalating tensions across the world.
Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime carried out an alleged chemical attack on its people, which prompted the U.S. to take action in the form of 59 Tomahawk missiles being fired to target the Shayrat air field, from where the planes carrying the chemicals reportedly originated.
“On Tuesday, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad launched a horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians,” Trump said April 6. “Using a deadly nerve agent, Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack.”
This week, the U.S. military fired a GBU-43 bomb, also known as the “mother of all bombs,” at caves in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, the first instance of the bomb being used in combat. At least 94 ISIS fighters were reportedly killed in the bombing.
U.S. relations with Russia have also steadily deteriorated over the Kremlin’s alleged hacking of the presidential election and its continued support for Assad's regime in Syria.
Another sphere that has seen a massive escalation of tensions is North Korea and its nuclear threat. On Saturday, Kim Jong Un’s administration carried out a massive military parade where it showed off an alleged submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) and a new intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), called Pukguksong-2.
At the parade, Choe Ryong-hae, who is said to be one of the most powerful politicians in North Korea, made a thinly-veiled threat to the U.S. when he reportedly said: “We will respond to an all-out war with an all-out war and a nuclear war with our style of a nuclear attack.”
According to data by Google, the searches for “Trump War” were also at their highest level in April, along with a spike in search for other terms like “war” and “nuclear war.”