US air strikes in Somalia kill 37 militants

The aftermath of a suicide bomb in the Somali capital, Mogadishu on October 1, 2018 and claimed by Al-Shabab, 37 of whose members the US military said it killed in its latest air strikes. (AFP)
Updated 20 November 2018

US air strikes in Somalia kill 37 militants

  • The US military said the strikes were conducted in support of the Federal Government of Somalia
  • Last month, the US military said it had killed 60 Shabab fighters in a single air strike

WASHINGTON: US air strikes in Somalia killed an estimated 37 fighters from the militant group Al-Shabab, the US military said Tuesday.
The two air strikes were carried out Monday near Debatscile, the military’s Africa command said in a statement, adding that the “air strikes did not injure or kill any civilians.”
It said the first “precision strike” killed 27 militants in a “planned and deliberate action.” The second strike killed another 10 fighters.
The US military said the strikes were “conducted in support of the Federal Government of Somalia as it continues to degrade Al-Shabab.”
Last month, the US military said it had killed 60 Shabab fighters in a single air strike, the largest since an air raid on one of the group’s training camps that killed around 100 fighters in November 2017.
Air assaults and missile strikes have increased in recent months against Shabab, an Al-Qaeda affiliate fighting to overthrow the internationally backed Somali government in Mogadishu, which has the support of an African Union force.


Philippine regulator repeals utilities’ water contracts after Duterte rebuke

Updated 2 min 1 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.