Kenya claims killing Al-Shabab commanders in Somalia air raids

Updated 11 January 2014
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Kenya claims killing Al-Shabab commanders in Somalia air raids

NAIROBI: Kenya’s military has killed more than 30 Al-Shabab militants, including commanders, a spokesman said, in its first major barrage of airstrikes in Somalia since the retaliation for the militants’ attack on a Nairobi shopping mall.
Kenyan fighter jets hit a camp at Garbarahey in the Gedo region on Thursday evening, where the militants, who profess links to Al-Qaeda, were holding a meeting, the military said.
Al Shabab has been weakened by African Union troops over the past two years, ushering in some stability in many parts of the Horn of Africa country after a campaign of cross-border raids and kidnappings of Westerners and security forces.
However, the rebels, who have waged a seven-year insurgency seeking to impose a strict interpretation of sharia law in Somalia, stunned the world in September when they attacked an upscale shopping mall in Nairobi, killing at least 67 people.
Thursday’s air raids were the first since October, when Kenyan warplanes bombed targets held by the militants in reprisal for the attack on the mall..
“There are remnants of Al-Shabab that are still trying to draw back the gains that have been made (against them),” Kenyan military spokesman Col. Cyrus Oguna told Reuters on Friday.
“Those remnants are the ones we are focusing on now.”
Despite more than two years of attacks on Al-Shabab positions by Kenyan and other east African troops, there is no clear picture of how many are involved in the movement or whether its numbers have been eroded by the intervention.
After October’s raid, the Kenya Defense Forces said it destroyed a training camp, killing or wounding many of the more than 300 fighters there.
The militants, who said they attacked the shopping center because of Kenya’s intervention in Somalia, denied there had been any attack then and was not immediately available to comment on Friday.
It was not immediately clear what, if anything other than opportunity, had triggered Thursday’s raids.
Residents in Gedo, however, said Al-Shabab has been regrouping its fighters in the area over the past days.


Philippine president wants to end anti-drug war in three years

Updated 21 March 2019
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Philippine president wants to end anti-drug war in three years

  • Philippines being investigated for extrajudicial killings
  • Anti-drug campaign signature policy of president

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday he wanted to finish his war on drugs in three years, defying an international probe into his controversial and deadly campaign to rid the country of narcotics.
Duterte, who came to power in 2016, has made a ‘war on drugs’ the hallmark of his administration. 
But it has been reported that 20,000 people have been killed in what rights groups call a wave of “state-sanctioned violence.”
The firebrand president remains unfazed by the condemnation, and the cases filed against him by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over his crackdown.
He insisted he would assume full responsibility for any consequences due to his decision to enforce the law, telling a military audience his goals.
“I’d like to finish this war, both (with the) Abu Sayyaf (a militant group) and also the communists, and the drug problem in about three years … we'd be able (to) ... reduce the activities of the illegal trade and fighting to the barest minimum.
“I’m not saying I am the only one capable (of achieving these goals) ... I assume full responsibility for all that would happen as a consequence of enforcing the law — whether against the criminals, the drug traffickers or the rebels who’d want to destroy government.”
Earlier this month, the Philippines withdrew from the ICC, citing the global body's interference in how the country was run as the reason.
On Tuesday, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said that investigations into alleged extrajudicial killings in the Philippines would continue despite its exit.
But the government has said it will not cooperate with the ICC, and has even warned its personnel about entering the country for the investigation.
There are Filipinos who support Duterte’s campaign, however, and believe it works. Among them is former policeman Eric Advincula.
He said there had been an improvement in the situation since Duterte came to power. 
“For one, the peace and order situation has improved, like for example in villages near our place where there used to be rampant drug peddling,” he told Arab News. 
“The price of illegal drugs is now higher, an indication that the supply also went down. Also, it was easy to catch drug peddlers before because they were doing their trade openly. But now they are more careful, you can't easily locate them.”
Official data from the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in February indicated that 5,176 ‘drug personalities’ were killed in the anti-drugs war between July 1, 2016 to Jan. 31, 2019.
More than 170,000 drug suspects have been arrested during a total of 119,841 anti-narcotics operations in the last two and a half years.