Seven killed as militants attack checkpoint in Somalia’s Puntland

Security forces stand near the wreckage of a minibus at the scene of a car bomb attack in Mogadishu, Somalia on Sept. 28, 2017. (AP)
Updated 09 October 2017
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Seven killed as militants attack checkpoint in Somalia’s Puntland

BOSASO, Somalia: Al-Shabab militants attacked a checkpoint in Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region, killing at least seven people in the early hours of Monday, police said.
The fighters then ambushed officers rushing in to help colleagues on the outskirts of the city of Bosaso, an officer at the scene said.
Al-Shabab said it took the checkpoint then left, though the police said they fought off the assault.
Al-Shabab has launched a string of attacks on Somalia’s capital Mogadishu and other areas controlled by the federal government in a bid to oust the Western-backed authorities.
Attacks are relatively rare in Puntland, which has its own government and security forces patrolling its territory on the northeastern tip of the Horn of Africa, jutting out into the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea.
“At about 1 a.m., many well-armed Al-Shabab fighters attacked us from all directions in an attempt to capture the checkpoint,” police captain Abdifatah Mohamed said.
Three police and four civilians died and at least 13 others were wounded in the clashes, he said over the phone from the checkpoint.
Abdiasis Abu Musab, Al-Shabab’s military operation spokesman, said its fighters killed seven soldiers and wounded 11 others.
“We captured the Bosaso checkpoint and left this morning. We also ambushed a police reinforcement,” he said.
Puntland is also home to a splinter group of Al-Shabab that has sworn allegiance to Daesh. Security sources say a small contingent of foreign fighters is based there.


Turkish banker released from US prison

Updated 7 min 30 sec ago
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Turkish banker released from US prison

  • Mehmet Hakan Atilla, 47, deputy director general of Turkish lender Halkbank, was arrested in March 2017 and convicted the following year on five counts of bank fraud and conspiracy following a five-week trial in New York
  • Erdogan has repeatedly rejected the allegations, saying Turkey did not violate the US embargo on Iran and that political rivals were behind the case

NEW YORK: A Turkish banker convicted for plotting to help Iran evade American sanctions on Iranian oil proceeds has been released from US prison, according to his lawyer and prison officials.
Mehmet Hakan Atilla, 47, deputy director general of Turkish lender Halkbank, was arrested in March 2017 and convicted the following year on five counts of bank fraud and conspiracy following a five-week trial in New York.
He was handed over to immigration police on Friday pending his deportation to Turkey, his lawyer Victor Rocco told AFP. Prison authorities confirmed his release.
Atilla claimed that he had only played a minor role in the scheme and acted as executor of instructions by the bank’s director general — an argument accepted by the court.
Prosecutors had wanted a 20-year sentence for the banker.
His conviction hinged on the testimony of Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, who was arrested by US authorities in 2016 after jetting to Florida with his pop-star wife and child on a family holiday to Disney World.
Zarrab, 34, initially pleaded not guilty then flipped, becoming a US government witness after admitting being involved in the multi-billion-dollar gold-for-oil scheme to subvert US economic sanctions against Iran.
His testimony identified Atilla as a key organizer in the scheme, but also implicated former Turkish ministers and even President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Testifying in court last November, Zarrab said he was told that Erdogan, as prime minister in 2012, and treasury minister Ali Babacan gave “instructions” to two public banks to take part in the scheme.
Erdogan has repeatedly rejected the allegations, saying Turkey did not violate the US embargo on Iran and that political rivals were behind the case.
Zarrab’s sentence is not known, as many of the documents in his case have remained confidential.