Three US carriers lead naval drill aimed at North Korea

Above, the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier arrives in the South Korean port city of Busan on October 21. The USS Ronald Reagan joins two other flattops — USS Nimitz and USS Theodore Roosevelt — in a four-day joint exercise in the western Pacific. (Yonhap/AFP)
Updated 11 November 2017
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Three US carriers lead naval drill aimed at North Korea

SEOUL:: South Korean warships joined three US aircraft carriers Saturday in an unusually strong display of naval force aimed at North Korea, whose nuclear ambitions have been a focus of US President Donald Trump’s ongoing tour of Asia.
The four-day joint exercise in the western Pacific involves three flattops — USS Ronald Reagan, USS Nimitz and USS Theodore Roosevelt — and seven South Korean warships including three destroyers, Seoul’s defense ministry said.
It is the first such triple-carrier drill in the region for a decade.
“The exercise is aimed at enhancing deterrence against North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats and showing off preparedness to fend off any provocative acts by the North,” a ministry spokesman said.
Nuclear-armed North Korea regularly denounces such military drills as rehearsals for invasion and sometimes conducts its own military maneuvers or missile tests in response.
The US warships will carry out air defense drills, sea surveillance, defensive air combat training and other training operations, the US Navy said.
The exercises come on the heels of Trump’s visits to Seoul and Beijing this week, which were dominated by the question of how to counter Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons threat.
At a summit in Seoul Tuesday, Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-In agreed to increase the deployment of US military assets around the Korean peninsula to step up pressure on the North.
Trump also warned North Korea not to underestimate the United States in a speech to the South Korean parliament on Wednesday, while offering leader Kim Jong-Un a better future if he gives up his nuclear ambitions.
He said Friday the Asia-Pacific region was being held hostage by the “twisted fantasies” of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, as he called on countries to stand united against Pyongyang.
Trump has embarked on a tour of Asia this week trying to rally regional support for curbing North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, warning that time is running out over the crisis.
“The future of this region and its beautiful people must not be held hostage to a dictator’s twisted fantasies of violent conquest and nuclear blackmail,” he said during a speech in Vietnam at the annual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.
During talks in Beijing Thursday, Trump urged Chinese leader Xi Jinping to work hard and act fast to help resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis, warning that “time is quickly running out.”
The US administration thinks China’s economic leverage over North Korea is the key to strong-arming Pyongyang into halting its nuclear weapons and missile programs.
Xi said the two countries reiterated their “firm commitment” to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and the implementation of UN resolutions.
Xi repeated his plea for the issue to be resolved through negotiations, saying China was ready to discuss the “pathway leading to enduring peace and stability on the peninsula.”
Though China has backed UN sanctions, US officials want Chinese authorities to clamp down on unauthorized trade along the North Korean border.
But experts doubt China will take the kind of steps that Trump wants, such as halting crude oil exports to the North.
Beijing fears that squeezing Pyongyang too hard could cause the regime to collapse, sending an influx of refugees across its border and placing the US army at its doorstep.


86 people killed in central Nigeria violence: police

Updated 25 June 2018
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86 people killed in central Nigeria violence: police

  • Analysts believe it could become Nigeria’s biggest security concern, eclipsing Boko Haram’s Islamist insurgency that has left at least 20,000 dead since 2009
  • The violence — fueled by ethnic, religious and political allegiances — has killed thousands over several decades

JOS, Nigeria: Eighty-six people have been killed in an attack by suspected nomadic herders against farming communities in restive central Nigeria, police said on Sunday.
The discovery in the Barikin Ladi area of Plateau state came after days of violence apparently sparked by an attack by ethnic Berom farmers on Fulani herders on Thursday.
State police commissioner Undie Adie said a search of Berom villages in the area following clashes on Saturday found “86 persons altogether were killed.”
Adie told reporters six people were also injured and 50 houses razed. Bodies of those who died have been released to their families, he added.
The deaths are the latest in a long-running battle for land and resources that is putting President Muhammadu Buhari under pressure as elections approach next year.
The violence — fueled by ethnic, religious and political allegiances — has killed thousands over several decades.
Analysts believe it could become Nigeria’s biggest security concern, eclipsing Boko Haram’s Islamist insurgency that has left at least 20,000 dead since 2009.
The Plateau state government said it had imposed restrictions on movements in the Riyom, Barikin Ladi and Jos South areas “to avert a breakdown of law and order.”
“The curfew takes effect immediately... and movement is restricted from 6:00 p.m. (1700 GMT) to 6:00 am, except (for) those on essential duties,” said spokesman Rufus Bature.
On Sunday, ethnic Berom youths set up barricades on the Jos-Abuja highway and attacked motorists who looked “Fulani and Muslim,” according to those who escaped the violence.
Plateau state police spokesman Tyopev Terna and Major Adam Umar, from the military taskforce in the state capital, Jos, confirmed the blockade and vandalism to several cars.
There were no official reports of deaths but Baba Bala, who escaped the violence on the road, said at least six people were killed.
“I was lucky the convoy of the (Plateau) state government was passing through the scene of the attack shortly after I ran into the attackers,” he said.
“I escaped with smashed windscreens and dents on my car. I saw six dead bodies and several damaged cars.”