US air strike kills 13 Daesh fighters in Somalia

Al Shabaab soldiers sit outside a building during patrol along the streets of Dayniile district in Southern Mogadishu. (File/Reuters)
Updated 10 May 2019

US air strike kills 13 Daesh fighters in Somalia

  • The US military has stepped up its campaign of air strikes in Somalia since President Donald Trump took office, saying it has killed more than 800 militants in two years
  • Somalia has been mired in civil war and an extremist insurgency since 1991 when clan warlords overthrew a dictator and then turned on each other

NAIROBI: A US air strike killed 13 Daesh fighters in Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region on Wednesday, the US military said, days after another strike killed three.
The US military has stepped up its campaign of air strikes in Somalia since President Donald Trump took office, saying it has killed more than 800 militants in two years.
Daesh has gathered recruits in Puntland, although experts say the scale of its force is unclear and it remains a small player compared Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab group that once controlled much of Somalia.
US Africa Command (AFRICOM) said late on Thursday the latest strike targeted an Daesh-Somalia camp in Golis Mountains.
“At this time, it is assessed the air strike on May 8 killed 13 terrorists,” it said.
AFRICOM said in April it had killed Abdulhakim Dhuqub, identifying him as Daesh’s deputy leader in Somalia.
Somalia has been mired in civil war and an extremist insurgency since 1991 when clan warlords overthrew a dictator and then turned on each other.
Al Shabab was pushed out of the capital Mogadishu in 2011, but retains a strong presence in parts of southern and central Somalia and has often clashed with Daesh.


‘Clear risks’ for stability in China’s Pacific lending, Australian think tank warns

Updated 37 min 5 sec ago

‘Clear risks’ for stability in China’s Pacific lending, Australian think tank warns

SYDNEY: China’s financial largesse in the Pacific carries “clear risks” for stability if left unchecked, a Sydney think tank warned, while saying allegations of “debt-trap” diplomacy are so far overblown.
In a study released Monday, the influential Lowy Institute warned that fragile Pacific nations risked borrowing too much and leaving themselves exposed to demands from Beijing.
China has repeatedly been accused of offering lucrative but unserviceable loans to gain leverage or snap up strategically vital assets like ports, airports, or electricity providers.
While Lowy said allegations that China was engaged in “debt-trap” diplomacy in the Pacific were overblown, the trend was not positive and countries like Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu were dangerously exposed.
Between 2011 and 2018, China committed loans to the region worth $6 billion — around 21 percent of regional GDP.
A majority of that money, $4.1 billion, was earmarked for Papua New Guinea.
Only a fraction, less than $1 billion, has so far been dispersed but China is still the single largest creditor in Tonga, Samoa, and Vanuatu.
“The sheer scale of Chinese lending and the lack of strong institutional mechanisms to protect the debt sustainability of borrowing countries mean a continuation of business as usual would pose clear risks,” the report said.
The South Pacific has become a forum for intense competition for influence between China, the United States, and Australia in recent years.
The island nations sit on a vital shipping crossroad, contain vast reserves of fish stocks, and provide a potential base for leading militaries to project power well beyond their borders.
Beijing has stepped up engagement in the region through a series of high profile visits and no-conditions lending via its Belt and Road Initiative.
The Solomon Islands and Kiribati recently announced they would switch diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to Beijing after a long courtship by the country’s Communist leaders.
Six Pacific governments are currently debtors to Beijing — the Cook Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga, and Vanuatu.
Lowy said many of China’s loans carry a modest two percent annual interest rate.
But it warned that China would need to adopt formal lending rules if loans were to be made sustainable as natural disasters like earthquakes, cyclones and tsunamis can quickly upend countries’ ability to pay back loans.
“Three small Pacific economies — Tonga, Samoa, and Vanuatu — also appear to be among those most heavily indebted to China anywhere in the world,” it said.