Toll rises to 53 dead from bomb blasts in Somalia’s capital

Somali rescue workers carry an unidentified man injured from the scene of an explosion in Mogadishu, Somalia November 9, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 12 November 2018

Toll rises to 53 dead from bomb blasts in Somalia’s capital

NAIROBI, Kenya: Somali hospital and police sources say the death toll from Friday’s bombings outside a hotel in Mogadishu has risen to 53 with over 100 injured.
Friday’s attack was the latest in a wave of bombings by Al-Shabab, an Al-Qaeda affiliate which has been fighting to overthrow the internationally-backed Somali government for over a decade.
Twin car bombs exploded within moments of each other, followed by gunfire and a third blast, sending thick plumes of black smoke into the sky.
The blasts occurred near the Sahafi hotel and Criminal Investigation Division (CID) police headquarters.
Parliament speaker Mohamed Mursal said the attackers deliberately targeted civilians.


“These terrorists have massacred civilians at a time when people were out to spend time during the weekend. I call on the Somali people to stand together against those killers,” he told reporters.
Police official Ibrahim Mohamed said information received from various hospitals indicated that the number of dead had reached 41, with another 106 wounded.
“Most of these people were civilians and nearly 20 of them died in minibuses that were passing by the road when the blast occurred,” he added.
Another security official, Abdirahman Osman, told AFP that nearly 50 had been confirmed dead so far, although the final number was not yet known.
Officials on Friday had put the death toll at about 20.
“There was chaos after the blast. Some of the vehicles were buses, which caught fire. I could see people screaming as they fled the buses,” witness Fadumo Ali told AFP on Friday.
According to sources in Somalia, the fatalities included the son of the owner of the hotel, Abdirashid Ilqeyte, who was killed in an Al-Shabab attack on the establishment in November 2015.
The bombs destroyed parts of the hotel perimeter despite layered security, and several shops and other buildings nearby were flattened.
The Al-Shabab claimed responsibility.
“Armed members from the Al-Shabab Al-Mujahideen carried (out) a complex attack targeting Sahafi hotel in Mogadishu where senior Somali government officials stay,” the militant group said in a statement quoted by a pro-Al-Shabab website.
The Al-Shabab were forced out of the capital by African Union troops in 2011.
But they still control parts of the countryside and attack government, military, and civilian targets, seemingly at will, in Mogadishu and towns in the region.


Philippine regulator repeals utilities’ water contracts after Duterte rebuke

Updated 3 min 53 sec ago

Philippine regulator repeals utilities’ water contracts after Duterte rebuke

  • Concession agreements with Manila Water Co. Inc. and Maynilad Water Services as ‘onerous and disadvantageous’ to the public
  • Existing concessions will expire on 2022, but were subsequently extended by 15 years

MANILA: The Philippines’ water regulator said on Wednesday it has canceled the 15-year extension of concession deals it signed with the country’s two largest utilities after pressure from President Rodrigo Duterte.
Duterte described the concession agreements with Manila Water Co. Inc. and Maynilad Water Services as “onerous and disadvantageous” to the public, prompting them to be revoked in a move that could turn off investors at a time the government is seeking foreign capital to modernize its infrastructure.
Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, the country’s regulator, told lawmakers it had revoked last week a decision extending the water concession deals with the two utilities until 2037, sending their shares tumbling more than 13 percent. The existing concessions will expire on 2022.
The firms, which are servicing a combined 16 million customers, secured 25-year concession agreements in 1997, which were extended in 2009 by a further 15 years.
Duterte acted after Manila Water and Maynilad won arbitration cases in Singapore against the government.
The arbitration court in Singapore ordered the Philippines government to pay the utilities a combined 10.8 billion pesos ($212.14 million) in compensation. The companies had said they would forfeit any damage claims to avoid angering the president.
“These companies not only have inefficiently delivered water to the households, but exacted unconscionable amounts from the taxpayers,” Salvador Panelo, Duterte’s spokesman, said in a statement.
The water utilities’ woes display a violation of the sanctity of contracts, Guenter Taus, former president of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, told Reuters.
“It does not instill investor’s confidence. You can’t just go out and revoke contracts,” Taus said.
The embattled companies’ shares continued their decline on Wednesday, with Manila Water slumping 14 percent.
Maynilad stockholders Metro Pacific Investments Corp. and DMCI Holdings Inc. sank 13 percent and 13.4 percent, respectively.
Manila Water president Jose Rene Almendras told lawmakers the company has yet to study the impact of the regulator’s decision.
“There should be a clean process because we have commitments both in terms of capital expenditures, projects and loans,” Maynilad chief operating officer Randolph Estrellado said.