Drone strike in Somalia kills ‘several militants’

Residents walk at the scene of a blast on October 29, 2017, a day after two car bombs exploded in Mogadishu. On Thursday, a US drone strike killed “several" Al-Shabab militants in Somalia on Thursday afternoon, the US Africa Command said on Friday. (AFP / Mohamed Abdiwahab/File photo)
Updated 10 November 2017
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Drone strike in Somalia kills ‘several militants’

MOGADISHU: A US drone strike killed “several militants” with Al-Shabab in Somalia, the military said, as the Trump administration increasingly targets what has become the deadliest Islamic extremist group in Africa.
The strike was carried out Thursday afternoon in the Bay Region, about 160 km west of the capital, Mogadishu, according to a statement by the US Africa Command. A spokeswoman told The Associated Press that no civilians were anywhere near the strike.
The US military says it has carried out 22 airstrikes this year against the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab and the smaller Daesh presence in Somalia after the Trump administration approved expanded military efforts.
The US says the latest airstrike, like others, occurred in cooperation with Somalia’s government.
Earlier this month the US military carried out its first airstrikes in Somalia against Daesh, which is a small but growing presence in the northern part of the Horn of Africa nation. Many of its fighters are reported to be former Al-Shabab members who switched allegiances.
The Somalia-based Al-Shabab has been blamed for the massive truck bombing in Mogadishu that killed more than 350 people in the country’s worst-ever attack. The extremist group often targets high-profile areas such as hotels in the capital.
While Somalia’s president has vowed a “state of war” in response to last month’s attack, concern is growing about the gradual security handover that has begun from a 22,000-strong African Union force to Somali national forces.
The AU this week announced the beginning of its withdrawal from the long-chaotic and still heavily fractured nation, saying it will cut 1,000 troops by the end of the year.
The AU pullout is set to be complete by the end of 2020.


Lebanon’s minister warns over slow formation of government

Lebanon's Caretaker Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil. (REUTERS)
Updated 20 June 2018
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Lebanon’s minister warns over slow formation of government

  • Lebanon is the world’s third-most indebted nation with a debt-to-GDP ratio of more than 150 percent
  • Following May’s election, Lebanon is being run by a caretaker government

BEIRUT: Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said on Tuesday that Lebanon was not forming a new government fast enough and he had not seen serious headway made on the matter.
Political leaders and foreign donors have said Lebanon, which held a parliamentary election on May 6, needs to establish a government quickly to maintain confidence in the country and get to work on reforms to help an ailing economy.
“It is important for political forces to be aware that time is not on our or anyone’s side. Therefore we urgently need to accelerate...the formation of a new government,” Khalil said in a statement from his office.
“We have not seen serious movement in forming a government so far. As finance minister I repeat my warning and stress the need to speed it up so that the new government can get to work on the source of the problems and work on fixing them.”
Following May’s election, Lebanon is being run by a caretaker government while Prime Minister-designate Saad Al-Hariri forms a new Cabinet.
Lebanon is the world’s third-most indebted nation with a debt-to-GDP ratio of more than 150 percent. It climbed from around 130 percent in 2011, before war in neighboring Syria, and the arrival of more than a million refugees, depressed growth and paralyzed government decision-making.
The dire economic situation and unsustainable public debt levels are top priorities for the next government.
The International Monetary Fund has said Lebanon’s debt trajectory is unsustainable and needs immediate action, otherwise debt-to-GDP could hit 180 percent by 2023.