US drone strike removes ‘imminent threat’ to Somali capital

The drone strike targeted a vehicle suspected of carrying an Al-Shabab leader in this file photo. (Reuters)
Updated 13 December 2017
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US drone strike removes ‘imminent threat’ to Somali capital

MOGADISHU: A US military drone strike on a vehicle carrying explosives in Somalia has removed “an imminent threat to the people of Mogadishu” by the Al-Shabab extremist group, the US Africa Command said Tuesday.
The airstrike was carried out early Tuesday morning about 65 km southwest of Somalia’s capital, the US statement said, adding that no civilians were killed. It was not immediately clear how many Al-Shabab fighters may have been killed.
A senior Somali intelligence official said the airstrike largely destroyed a minibus traveling near the rebel-held village of Mubarak in Lower Shabelle region. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
The Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab has been blamed for the massive truck bombing in Mogadishu in October that killed 512 people, wounded more than 300 others and left more than 60 missing. Only a few attacks since the ones on Sept. 11, 2001 have killed as many people, according to the Global Terrorism Database at the University of Maryland.
Al-Shabab, the deadliest extremist group in Africa, often targets high-profile areas of Mogadishu including hotels, military checkpoints and the presidential palace.
The US military has carried out 32 airstrikes this year against the Somalia-based Al-Shabab and a small but growing presence of fighters linked to the Daesh group. The Trump administration early this year approved expanded military operations against extremists in the Horn of Africa nation, as the Trump administration puts counterterrorism at the top of its foreign policy agenda for Africa.
More than 500 US military personnel are now in Somalia, the US Africa Command said last month.


Libyan airstrikes target group attacking oil ports

Smoke and flames rise from an oil storage tank that was set on fire amid fighting between rival factions at Ras Lanuf terminal, Libya. Reuters
Updated 32 sec ago
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Libyan airstrikes target group attacking oil ports

  • The country is now split between rival governments in the east and west, each backed by an array of militias
  • The UN Support Mission in Libya condemned the assault on the ports of Ras Lanuf and Al-Sidr

CAIRO: Libyan forces carried out airstrikes against a militia attacking key oil ports in the east, a spokesman said as Libya’s national oil firm warned on Monday of further damage to oil infrastructure as well as environmental contamination in the north African country.
A militia, led by Ibrahim Jadhran who opposes Libya’s self-styled national army commanded by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, attacked the oil ports of Ras Lanuf and Al-Sidr on Thursday forcing the National Oil Corporation to suspend exports and evacuate its employees.
The airstrikes late Sunday targeted fighters loyal to Jadhran, who are trying to seize the oil terminals, said Ahmed Al-Mesmari, a spokesman for the LNA.
He said warplanes carried out airstrikes against “terrorist positions and gatherings in the operational military zone stretching from Ras Lanuf to the edge of the city of Sirte.”
Al-Mesmari called on residents in the oil crescent area to stay away from “areas where the enemy gathers, munition storages and sites with military vehicles.”
Jadhran said in a video circulated on social media on Thursday that he had formed an alliance to retake oil terminals. “Our aim is to overturn the injustice for our people over the past two years,” he said.
The attack by Jadhran’s militia caused “significant” damage to at least two storage tanks, the NOC said Monday in a statement. It warned of further damage to oil infrastructure as well as environmental contamination.
The firm called for an unconditional and immediate withdrawal of Jadhran’s forces, adding that the closure meant the loss of 240,000 barrels per day in oil production. It advised two tankers scheduled to arrive at the ports to remain at sea until the situation was under control.
The UN Support Mission in Libya condemned the assault on the ports of Ras Lanuf and Al-Sidr. “This dangerous escalation in Oil Crescent area puts Libya’s economy in jeopardy and risks igniting a widespread confrontation,” UNSMIL tweeted on Thursday.
Jadhran is a rebel commander who took part in the 2011 uprising that toppled and later killed dictator Moammar Qaddafi. In 2013, he proclaimed himself the guardian of Libya’s oil crescent including the ports of Al-Sidr, Ras Lanuf and Brega, which represent about 60 percent of Libya’s oil resources. His actions cost the oil-rich country billions of dollars.
He lost control of the oil crescent to Haftar’s forces in 2016.
Libya descended into chaos following the 2011 uprising. The country is now split between rival governments in the east and west, each backed by an array of militias. Haftar is allied with the east-based administration that is at odds with the UN-backed government based in the capital, Tripoli.