18 police officers killed in Somalia suicide bomb attack

Somali police cadets arrive to help carry away the dead and injured following a suicide bomb attack on a police academy in Mogadishu on Thursday, December 14. (AP)
Updated 14 December 2017
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18 police officers killed in Somalia suicide bomb attack

MOGADISHU: A suicide bomber disguised as a policeman blew himself up inside a police training camp in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu on Thursday and killed at least 18 officers, officials said.
Police spokesman Maj. Mohamed Hussein said the attacker strapped explosives to his body and infiltrated the General Kahiye Police Training Academy during an early morning parade.
“Police were preparing for the 74th anniversary of police day. As they wanted to start exercise, a suicide bomber came in and blew up himself. We lost 18 police officers and 15 others were injured,” Muktar Hussein Afrah, Somalia’s deputy police commander, told reporters at the blast scene.
“Police will always continue their work despite death.”
Police earlier put the death toll at 15.
Reuters witnesses who attempted to visit the site of the blast said police had sealed it off. Hours later when they were allowed in, a witness saw body parts suspected to be from the bomber on the ground in the field where police officers had been training.
The witness said the ground nearby had also been washed to remove blood stains and people were burying bodies at the police academy.
The militant group Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack and gave a higher death toll.
“We killed 27 police (officers) and injured more,” Abdiasis Abu Musab, the group’s military operations spokesman, told Reuters. Al-Shabab carries out frequent bombings in Mogadishu and other towns.
The group, which is allied to Al-Qaeda, is waging an insurgency against the UN-backed government and its African Union (AU) allies in a bid to topple the weak administration.
The militants were driven out of Mogadishu in 2011 and have since been steadily losing territory to the combined forces of AU peacekeepers and Somali security forces.
On Tuesday, the US Africom said the US military had conducted an air strike on a vehicle they said was strapped with explosives some 65km southwest of Mogadishu.
Thursday’s attack comes at a time when the AU is finalizing plans to trim its peacekeeping mission called AMISOM.
The 22,000-strong AU force is scheduled to leave by 2020 and some security experts say Al-Shabab could find it easier to stage attacks as the peacekeeping forces are reduced because government forces will find it hard to replicate their work.
At the same time, Somalia could become a safe haven for militants linked to Al-Qaeda currently in Yemen, the experts said.
The peacekeepers were deployed to help secure a government that has struggled to establish central control in a country that plunged into civil war in the early 1990s.


’We failed them’: Australia apologizes to child sex abuse victims

Updated 4 min 4 sec ago
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’We failed them’: Australia apologizes to child sex abuse victims

CANBERRA: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison issued a national apology to victims of child sex abuse in an emotional address to parliament Monday, acknowledging the state failed to stop “evil dark crimes” committed over decades.
“This was done by Australians to Australians, enemies in our midst, enemies in our midst,” Morrison told parliament in a nationally televised address.
“As a nation, we failed them, we forsook them, and that will always be our shame,” he said, his voice cracking as he recounted abuse that permeated religious and state-backed institutions.
Decrying abuse that happened “day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade” in schools, churches, youth groups, scout groups, orphanages, sports clubs and family homes, Morrison declared a new national credo in the face of allegations: “We believe you.”
“Today, we say sorry, to the children we failed. Sorry. To the parents whose trust was betrayed and who have struggled to pick up the pieces. Sorry. To the whistleblowers, who we did not listen to. Sorry.
“To the spouses, partners, wives, husbands, children, who have dealt with the consequences of the abuse, cover-ups and obstruction. Sorry. To generations past and present. Sorry.”
The state apology comes after a five-year Royal Commission that detailed more than 15,000 survivors’ harrowing child sex abuse claims involving thousands of institutions.
In parliament, lawmakers stood for a moment of silence following the remarks as hundreds of survivors looked on or watched in official events across the country.
Relatives of victims who have died wore the tags with the names of daughters and sons, brothers and sisters, for whom this apology comes too late.
A series of institutions have already apologized for their failings, including Australian Catholic leaders who have lamented the church’s “shameful” history of child abuse and cover-ups.
According to the Royal Commission, seven percent of Catholic priests in Australia were accused of abuse between 1950 and 2010, but the allegations were never investigated, with children ignored and even punished.
Some senior members of the church in Australia have been prosecuted and found guilty of covering up abuse.