6 dead after attackers target Somalia’s presidential palace

Somali security force personnel walk among debris at the site of a car bomb explosion near the building of the Interior Ministry in Mogadishu on July 7, 2018. Two explosions have rocked Somalia's internal security ministry in the capital Mogadishu, killing five civilians, a police officer said, in the latest attack claimed by Shabaab militants. (File Photo: AFP / Mohamed Abdiwahab)
Updated 14 July 2018
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6 dead after attackers target Somalia’s presidential palace

  • The confrontation came a week after an attack on the nearby interior ministry compound in Mogadishu killed at least nine people
  • In past incidents, al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab have used car bombs to target government buildings in the capital

MOGADISHU: Somali security forces shot dead three extremists and foiled an attempted Al-Shabab attack on the presidential palace that began with a car bomb exploding, police said Saturday.
The confrontation came a week after an attack on the nearby interior ministry compound in Mogadishu killed at least nine people, again raising questions about the state of security in the most sensitive areas of Somalia’s capital.
Six people were dead in all including a suicide car bomber, Capt. Mohamed Hussein told The Associated Press, saying the situation had calmed and security in the area was being tightened.
The midday attack began when a car bomb detonated near a checkpoint close to the presidential palace after security forces engaged with gunmen. A second car bomb exploded in the same area shortly afterward, Hussein said.
“There were skirmishes between security forces and the attackers and then we had a big blast and a huge boom. The blast knocked me down,” one witness, Osman Ali, told the AP.
The Somalia-based Al-Shabab extremist group, an arm of Al-Qaeda, often targets high-profile places in the capital. It claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attack, saying its fighters were conducting a “major operation” around the palace and nearby SYL Hotel.
Al-Shabab was blamed for the October truck bombing in Mogadishu that killed more than 500 people in the deadliest attack in the country’s history.
The threat from what has become the deadliest Islamic extremist group in sub-Saharan Africa has hurt efforts to strengthen Somalia’s fragile government and stabilize the long-chaotic Horn of Africa nation.
The United States under the Trump administration has stepped up military efforts in Somalia, including dozens of drone strikes, against Al-Shabab and a small presence of fighters linked to the Daesh group. At least two US military personnel have been killed.
The US military and others in the international community have expressed concern about the plan for Somalia’s security forces to take over the country’s security from a multinational African Union force over the next few years, saying the local troops are not yet ready.


Greek Prime Minister heads to Odysseus’ home at end of bailout journey

Updated 21 August 2018
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Greek Prime Minister heads to Odysseus’ home at end of bailout journey

ATHENS: Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras headed to the Greek island of Ithaca on Tuesday in a gesture laden with classical symbolism as the country emerges from nine years of crisis and international financial bailouts.
The island was home to Odysseus, who found his way home from the Trojan war after a 10-year voyage lost at sea, recounted in Homer’s epic poem.
Tsipras is due to give a state address from the island, a day after Greece ended its third bailout deal with international creditors who have bankrolled the country in return for tough reforms and austerity monitored by their inspectors since 2010.
“We are not saying that all problems have been solved because we exited the bailout, we will not celebrate,” deputy economy minister Alexis Haritsis told state tv ERT. “But it is a significant day and it is a success to manage to get out of a tough surveillance.”
Former Prime Minister George Papandreou, who applied for the first bailout from Greece’s euro zone partners and the International Monetary Fund in April 2010, also drew on the Odyssey analogy at the time.
“We are on a difficult path, a new odyssey for Greece and for the Greek nation,” Papandreou said at the time. “But we know the way to Ithaca, and we have charted the waters in our quest.”
Austerity and political turmoil followed, shrinking the economy by a quarter, pushing a third of the population into poverty and forcing the migration of thousands abroad.
Another two bailouts followed in 2012 and 2015. In all, the €288 billion ($330 billion) Greece has borrowed is the largest bailout in history, saddling the country with debt the equivalent of 180 percent of its annual economic output.
In the coming years, Greece will have to maintain primary budget surpluses — excluding debt repayments — and further cuts in pensions may be made in 2019.
One newspaper also referred to the long voyage of Odysseus. “Even after Ithaca we will still be rowing,” the daily Ethnos said on its front page.