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
0

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.


Jordan to rethink controversial cybercrimes law

Updated 10 December 2018
0

Jordan to rethink controversial cybercrimes law

AMMAN: Jordan is to withdraw proposed amendments to a cybercrimes bill submitted to parliament that rights activists say would stifle freedom of expression, the government spokesman said on Sunday.
The bill has angered broad swathes of public opinion, including demonstrators who took to the streets in the last 10 days to protest against IMF-backed austerity measures, who say the proposed law will silence dissent in social media.
The legislation sent to parliament last September will be resubmitted only after the government has engaged with civil society representatives and experts, spokesman Jumana Ghunaimat told the state news agency Petra.
“The government will study again the draft law before redrafting it in light of existing laws,” Ghunaimat said.
Two officials said Prime Minister Omar Razzaz’s move to pull the cybercrimes law was intended to defuse a crisis that could cause a repeat of the big protests last summer over tax rises that brought down his predecessor.
Activists are calling for a major protest on Thursday against austerity measures and the IMF-backed tax law passed last month by the mainly pro-government parliament.
Amnesty International last month said the proposed amendments to the cybercrimes law passed in 2015 would “deal a devastating blow to freedom of expression in Jordan.”
Rights activists say the amendments include criminalizing hate speech using too broad a definition of the offense and introducing tougher penalties such as longer prison terms for online crimes.
“The proposed changes to Jordan’s already flawed cybercrimes law are extremely worrying. Instead of taking steps to protect people’s rights online the authorities appear to be moving backwards, introducing changes that would further suppress freedom of expression,” said Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director.
“Jordan’s authorities have an appalling track record when it comes to silencing critics both on and offline,” Morayef added.
With print and broadcast media loyal to the state and no major organized opposition political parties, social media has become a channel for dissent.
Officials have said there was a need for tougher laws with the Internet being used to slander politicians and incite social discord.
King Abdullah, without referring to the bill, has also supported tightening online laws, saying unfair accusations against officials had paralyzed government decision-making.