Daesh blamed for Yemen care home attack, pope ‘shocked’

Updated 06 March 2016

Daesh blamed for Yemen care home attack, pope ‘shocked’

ADEN, Yemen: Yemeni authorities on Saturday blamed the Daesh group for an attack on a care home run by missionaries that killed 16 people and was condemned by Pope Francis as “diabolical.”
Rival jihadist movement Al-Qaeda distanced itself from the mass shooting Friday in the main southern city of Aden, saying it was not responsible.
Gunmen stormed the refuge for the elderly operated by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, killing a Yemeni guard before tying up and shooting 15 other employees, officials said.
Four foreign nuns working as nurses were among those killed.
The Vatican missionary news agency Fides identified the nuns as two Rwandans, a Kenyan and an Indian, adding that the mother superior managed to hide and survive while an Indian priest was missing.
Screams of elderly residents echoed from the home during the shooting rampage, witnesses said, recounting seeing the bodies of slain workers with their arms tied behind their back.
No group has yet claimed the attack in the war-torn country, where the internationally recognized government is grappling with both an Iran-backed rebellion and a growing jihadist presence.

'Devil's act'
An unnamed Yemeni presidency source in Riyadh said that those behind such “treacherous terrorist acts” are individuals who have “sold themselves to the devil,” in a statement on the official sabanew.net website.
“There was no trace of these groups, which go under the name of the Islamic State or (its Arabic acronym) Daesh” when pro-government forces were battling the Houthi rebels and their allies to push them out of Aden last year, the source said, accusing them of “switching roles” with the Iran-backed rebels.
In a statement addressed to the residents of Aden, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), also known as Ansar Al-Sharia, denied “any links to the attack on the elderly care home.”
“These are not our operations and this is not our way of fighting,” said the group, which has seized parts of southern and eastern Yemen.
Al-Qaeda has previously criticized Daesh for attacks on Shiite mosques in Yemen that left dozens dead.
Al-Qaeda and Daesh have stepped up attacks in Aden, targeting mainly loyalists and members of a Saudi-led coalition battling the Houthi rebels since March last year.
The Houthis controlled Aden for months before government loyalists pushed them out in July.
On Saturday, gunmen opened fire at a police patrol in Aden killing two policemen, a security official said.
President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi has declared the city to be Yemen’s temporary capital as Sanaa has been in the hands of the Houthis and their allies since September 2014.

Pope 'shocked'
The Vatican’s Secretary of State Pietro Parolin said that Pope Francis was "shocked and profoundly saddened" by the attack
“He sends the assurance of his prayers for the dead and his spiritual closeness to their families and to all affected from this act of senseless and diabolical violence,” Parolin said in a statement.
Violence has mounted in Yemen during the past year with more than 6,000 people killed since the Saudi-led coalition began its campaign of air strikes in late March 2015.
On Saturday, Hadi discussed the stalled peace process with UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed in Riyadh, sabanew.net reported.
“Goodwill gestures and confidence-building measures by releasing detainees, lifting the siege on cities, and opening safe corridors to deliver humanitarian assistance to besieged provinces... are necessities that must be met” by the rebels, Hadi told the UN envoy.
Saudi Arabia’s UN ambassador said Friday that he hoped peace talks could resume by March 15.
The United Nations says more than 80 percent of the population is in dire need of food, medicine and other basic necessities and the crisis ranks as a “Level 3 emergency,” the most serious in the UN system.

US declares Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land 'consistent' with international law

Updated 18 November 2019

US declares Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land 'consistent' with international law

  • The announcement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sparked anger among Palestinians
  • The move is the latest by the Trump administration seen as favoring the Israeli position over the Palestinians

WASHINGTON: The United States on Monday backed Israel’s right to build Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank by abandoning its four-decade position that they were “inconsistent with international law.”

The announcement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sparked anger among Palestinians who say the settlements are the main barrier to their future state.

The shift in US policy follows the Trump administration’s decision to relocate the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem last year, a move seen as undermining Palestinian claims to the eastern half of the city as a future capital.

Pompeo said US statements about the settlements on the West Bank - which Israel captured during a 1967 war - had been inconsistent, saying Democrat President Jimmy Carter in 1978 found they were not consistent with international law and Republican President Ronald Reagan in 1981 said he did not view them as inherently illegal.

“The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements is not, per se, inconsistent with international law,” Pompeo told reporters at the State Department, drawing criticism from a senior Palestinian figure even before his announcement.

“Another blow to international law, justice & peace,” Hanan Ashrawi, a veteran Palestinian negotiator and member of the Palestine Liberation Organization's Executive Committee, said on Twitter ahead of Pompeo’s statement.

The announcement marked the third major instance in which the Trump administration has sided with Israel and against stances taken by the Palestinians and Arab states even before unveiling its long-delayed Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.

In 2017 Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel before opening the embassy in the city. US policy had previously been that the status of Jerusalem was to be decided by the parties to the conflict.

In March, Trump recognized Israel’s 1981 annexation of the Golan Heights in a boost for Netanyahu that prompted a sharp response from Syria, which once held the strategic land.

Trump's move might have been designed to help Netanyahu as he struggles to stay in power. Israeli politics is deadlocked after two inconclusive elections this year. Former military chief Benny Gantz's centrist Blue and White party emerged neck and neck with Netanyahu following a September vote, and both leaders have struggled to put together a ruling coalition.

*With Reuters