Grenade attack on Kenya church kills 1, wounds 14

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Updated 05 November 2012
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Grenade attack on Kenya church kills 1, wounds 14

NAIROBI: Gunmen hurled a grenade at a Kenyan church in a town near the Somali border yesterday, killing one policeman and wounding another 14 people, the latest such strike in the volatile area since Nairobi sent troops into Somalia to fight Al-Qaeda-linked insurgents.
The attack occurred during morning prayers at the church in the northeastern town of Garissa, which is home to a large number of Somalis and where 18 people were killed in similar grenade blasts in July.
“We have one fatality,” said regional police chief Philip Tuimur after a policeman died of his wounds in the attack on the Utawala church at a police camp in Garissa, which lies about 140 kilometers (90 miles) from the Somali border. “We have mobilized our officers to track down the attackers,” Tuimur added, without giving further details.
Kenya has been rocked by a wave of grenade attacks on cities including the capital Nairobi and the key port of Mombasa since the country sent troops into its troubled neighbor in October last year to fight the Al-Qaeda linked Shebab.
Fourteen people were also wounded in yesterday’s attack, which police said was carried out by two armed men. Most of the victims were policemen.
“We are attending victims mostly suffering from shrapnel wounds and burns, and we are evacuating to Nairobi three of the victims due to the nature of their injuries,” Dr. Mohamed Sheikh, medical director at the Garissa Hospital said.
The grenade “ripped through the roof during prayer session,” said a police officer who spoke on condition of anonymity, while witnesses cited by police said the attackers also fired gunshots.
In early July, at least 18 people were killed in attacks on two churches in Garissa, while in January five people were killed in a grenade blast at a bar in the town.
A child was also killed in a suspected grenade attack on a church in Nairobi in September, triggering reprisal attacks against the Somali community there.
The attacks and cross-border raids in the northeastern region have been blamed on the Shebab militants or their Kenyan supporters, who vowed revenge after Nairobi’s troops invaded last year.
The Shebab still control large parts of southern Somalia, despite African Union troops, allied Somali forces and Ethiopian soldiers wresting control of several key towns from the insurgents.
Human Rights Watch last month warned Kenyan security forces to end what it described as abuses in the hunt for suspected backers of Shebab militants, accusing them of beating and shooting at civilians as well as looting and destroying their property.
“Kenyan police officers are apparently responding to attacks on their forces with abuses against entire villages,” said Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director at HRW.
“Kenyan police need to investigate attacks on their forces carefully, and arrest and prosecute the people responsible instead of attacking everyone in sight.” It said Kenyan security forces have repeatedly accused residents of either harboring Shebab gunmen or participating in attacks, and have carried out abusive operations against them.
“Senior police officials should immediately follow up on the many complaints of police abuse,” Lefkow said.
In May, the rights group also charged that Kenyan security forces were abusing ethnic Somalis in the same region, accusing them of rape, arbitrary detention of civilians, looting and extortion.


The Philippine Rise: An untouched treasure

Map of the Luzon and Philippine Rise (Benham Rise) region. (Philippines' NAMRIA via Wikipedia)
Updated 21 May 2018
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The Philippine Rise: An untouched treasure

  • The Benham Bank exhibits a rich marine biodiversity. Its reefscapes contain corals, algae, sponges and Halimeda, which sustain a variety of fish. 
  • The UN approved the Philippines’ claim to the area in April 2012. On May 16, 2017, Duterte signed an order renaming it the Philippine Rise.

MANILA: A team of Filipino scientists last week sailed to the Philippine Rise, situated on the eastern side of the country, to explore unknown treasures in the resource-rich undersea region.

A ceremony was held on May 15 aboard the Philippine Navy’s amphibious landing dock vessel BRP Davao Del Sur. 

President Rodrigo Duterte led the send-off of the team, which will undertake the Coordinated National Marine Scientific Research Initiatives and Related Activities (CONMIRA).

Duterte was supposed to visit the Philippine Rise and ride a jet ski around the area, but instead he led a program aboard the BRP Davao Del Sur while it was docked in Casiguran Bay in Aurora province. 

The activity was to commemorate the awarding of the Benham Rise to the Philippines by a UN tribunal. 

The UN approved the Philippines’ claim to the area in April 2012. On May 16, 2017, Duterte signed an order renaming it the Philippine Rise.

He also signed a proclamation formally declaring parts of the undersea feature a marine resource reserve.

After Duterte left, a flotilla with the BRP Davao Del Sur sailed to the Philippine Rise. The flotilla included eight other ships.

A flag-raising ceremony was held on May 16 aboard the BRP Davao Del Sur, simultaneous with the laying of an underwater flag marker at the Benham Bank, the shallowest point in the Philippine Rise.

Gil Jacinto of the Marine Science Institute at the University of the Philippines told Arab News that the two-day event raises awareness among government agencies and the Filipino people “about this part of the country that we have sovereign rights over,” and “the needed work by the scientific community.” 

He lauded Duterte’s commitment to support marine science research, adding that the Benham Bank contains a “very good coral cover” and “almost wall-to-wall carpeted corals.”

Jacinto said: “Studies related to tuna fisheries, biology and migration patterns can also be pursued.” 

Oceanographers want to understand physical processes, such as major currents and the movement of water from the Pacific to the eastern side of Luzon island all the way to Mindanao island.

“Our understanding of physical processes and features of the Pacific side can perhaps be useful in some of the models that project the trajectory and intensity of typhoons,” said Jacinto. 

“That’s of interest and perhaps of benefit not just to the Philippines but also in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea region.”

Scientists will also be looking at prospects for energy sources in the area, and the possibility of obtaining compounds on marine organisms that may benefit the medical and pharmaceutical fields.

“One thing I’m very glad about for this event is this part of the country is now in the mindsets of our people,” said Jacinto. “There’s so much that can be done here.”

The scientists opted to sail to the Philippine Rise instead of the West Philippine Sea because they can work in the area “relatively unimpeded,” whereas in the West Philippine Sea there are security issues due to maritime border disputes, he added. 

The Philippine Rise is a 13-million-hectare underwater plateau located some 250 km east of northern Luzon. 

Its original name came from American geologist Andrew Benham, who surveyed the area in the 1930s. 

The Benham Bank exhibits a rich marine biodiversity. Its reefscapes contain corals, algae, sponges and Halimeda, which sustain a variety of fish. 

Results of exploratory fishing suggest that the Philippine Rise yields the highest catch rate of tuna species compared with other areas of the country.

The Philippine Rise may also contain seabed resources such as cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts, and hydrothermal polymetallic sulphides that contain minerals used in the aerospace industry.

Experts have revealed vast deposits of methane hydrate in the area, believed to be a larger hydrocarbon resource than the world’s oil, gas and coal resources combined.