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.


Japan wrestling with Trump going to sumo during state visit

Updated 4 min 52 sec ago
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Japan wrestling with Trump going to sumo during state visit

  • Japanese PM is eager to have Trump and Melania attend the finals of a sumo wrestling tournament

TOKYO: Plans for US President Donald Trump to check out the ancient Japanese sport of sumo wrestling during a state visit are raising security issues for organizers.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is eager to have Trump and his wife, Melania, attend the final day of a 15-day tournament on May 26 and hand over a trophy to the winner.
The issue for organizers, Japanese media reports said Tuesday, is that more than 1,000 seats near the ring are generally sold out and buyers will all have to be checked in advance.
They may also have to ban the sale of canned beer in the front section, where Trump is expected to sit, the reports said.
Ring-side seats are coveted for sumo, an art-like sport that dates back to the 17th century, featuring overweight men in top-knots and loincloths bashing each other in a circular mud ring.
Trump’s state visit from May 25-28 has regional security and trade issues on the agenda. He is also expected to be the first foreign dignitary to meet Emperor Naruhito, who inherited the Chrysanthemum Throne on May 1.
Every Japanese prime minister likes to trumpet close ties with this nation’s most important ally. But Abe has made showing off close relations with Trump a key part of his profile.
Trump has said he is having a trophy made for the sumo winner, which Japanese media have already informally dubbed the “Trump Cup.”
“I’ve always found that fascinating,” Trump told reporters last month, describing sumo as “something I’ll enjoy very much.”
The winning wrestler gets several trophies, so adding another cup would not be a problem.
The ring-side seats called “masu seki,” which cost about 10,000 yen ($100) each, don’t have chairs but are boxed in areas with Japanese “zabuton” mattresses for sitting on the floor. Seats up higher in the stands have chairs.
News Post Seven reported that putting in chairs was being considered to accommodate Trump. All entering Ryogoku Kokugikan, the venue in Tokyo, go through metal detectors and other standard security checks.
The Japan Sumo Association and the US Embassy declined comment Tuesday.