Death toll from twin Somalia bombings rises to 48

Death toll from twin Somalia bombings rises to 48
Political leaders pray in front the two bodies of the local lawmakers including Amina Mohamed Abdi after being airlifted from Beledweyne, at Aden Adde International Airport in Mogadishu, Somalia, on March 24, 2022. (AFP)
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Updated 25 March 2022

Death toll from twin Somalia bombings rises to 48

Death toll from twin Somalia bombings rises to 48

MOGADISHU: The death toll from two bombings that killed a parliamentary election candidate in central Somalia has risen to 48, a regional leader said on Thursday.

Amina Mohammed, a vocal critic of the government, was killed on Wednesday by a suicide bomber in the city of Beledweyne, around 300 km north of Mogadishu, on the eve of her expected reelection, witnesses and relatives said.

“The two blasts killed 48 people including traders, clerics, officials and civilians and injured 108 others,” Ali Gudlawe Hussein, president of Hirshabelle state, said in a statement broadcast on Facebook.

“The first suicide bomber targeted lawmaker Amina and those with her. And when the casualties were taken to hospital, a suicide car bomb targeted them.”

Al-Qaeda-linked militant group Al-Shabab said it was behind the bombings.

Somalia is conducting parliamentary elections in an indirect process that involves clan elders picking the 275 members of the lower house, who then choose a new president on a date yet to be fixed.

In a statement late on Wednesday, Prime Minister Mohammed Hussein Roble said Wednesday’s killings were aimed at disrupting the elections.

Data from the election commission shows that the election of 246 MPs has so far been completed, ahead of an April 15 deadline.

Witnesses described carnage outside the hospital in Beledweyne.

“The second blast was very huge, it occurred in front of the hospital and my brother and one of our neighbors were among the dead,” said Mahad Yare, a Beledweyne resident.

The British Ambassador to Somalia, Katie Foster, shared her condolences on Twitter, saying: “We strongly condemn the use of violence to intimidate and disrupt the elections.”

The EU’s ambassador to the country, Tiina Intelmann, also offered condolences, writing on Twitter: “Violence is not a way forward for #Somalia. #EU condemns terrorism and politically motivated killings.”


US and Russia discuss release of Griner and Whelan — RIA

US and Russia discuss release of Griner and Whelan — RIA
Updated 52 min 30 sec ago

US and Russia discuss release of Griner and Whelan — RIA

US and Russia discuss release of Griner and Whelan — RIA
  • Russia and the US have been discussing a deal that could see the basketball star in exchange for convicted weapons trafficker Viktor Bout

MOSCOW: The United States and Russia are discussing the release of basketball star Brittney Griner and ex-marine Paul Whelan through special channels, the RIA Novosti news agency reported on Monday, citing a top US diplomat.
Elizabeth Rood, charge d’affaires of the US embassy in Russia, was quoted as saying that the United States had submitted a serious proposal for consideration but it had not received a “serious response” back from Russia.
Russia and the United States have been discussing a deal that could see Griner, who is facing nine years in jail in Russia on drug charges, return to the United States in exchange for convicted Russian weapons trafficker Viktor Bout.
No deal has materialized amid heightened tensions between the two countries.


About 36 Indian police hurt in clashes with Adani port protesters

About 36 Indian police hurt in clashes with Adani port protesters
Updated 28 November 2022

About 36 Indian police hurt in clashes with Adani port protesters

About 36 Indian police hurt in clashes with Adani port protesters

KOCHI: As many as 36 police were injured in clashes with protesters in India’s southern state of Kerala who were demanding the release of a person arrested during a demonstration against a $900-million port project of the Adani Group, officials said.
The growing agitation is a major headache for Adani’s ports and logistics business worth $23 billion. The location of the port on India’s southern tip is seen as key to winning business from ports in Dubai, Singapore and Sri Lanka.
Construction at the Vizhinjam seaport has been halted for more than three months after protesters, mostly drawn from the fishing community, blocked its entrance, blaming the development for coastal erosion and depriving them of their livelihoods.
Over the weekend, protesters blocked Adani’s construction vehicles from entering the port, despite a court order for work to resume, prompting the arrest of many of them.
That spurred hundreds more to gather at a police station on Sunday night demanding the release of one of those arrested, leading to clashes with police and damage to some of their vehicles, television news images and a police document showed.
“They came with lethal weapons and barged into the station and held the police hostage, threatening that if people in custody were not released they would set the station on fire,” the police said in the case document on the incident.
Many of the protesters were Christians led by Roman Catholic priests.
Police attacked the protesters, among whom were some priests, said a clerical official, Eugine H. Pereira, the vicar general of the archdiocese.
“Stones were pelted from even the station,” said Pereira said, who called for a judicial inquiry into the incident.
The Adani Group did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.
It has earlier said the project complies with all laws, citing studies in recent years that have rejected accusations linking it to shoreline erosion.
The state government blames the erosion on natural disasters.


Somali forces battle militants for hotel in Mogadishu: Police

Somali forces battle militants for hotel in Mogadishu: Police
Updated 28 November 2022

Somali forces battle militants for hotel in Mogadishu: Police

Somali forces battle militants for hotel in Mogadishu: Police
  • Government forces seeking to ‘eliminate’ a number of armed militants inside the Villa Rose hotel
  • The militant group Al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attack

MOGADISHU: Somalia’s security forces exchanged gunfire with militants holed up in a hotel in Mogadishu on Monday after Al-Shabab stormed the popular venue near the presidential palace and laid siege overnight.
Sporadic gunfire and explosions could still be heard after dawn around the Villa Rose, a hotel in a secure central part of Mogadishu frequented by lawmakers and public officials.
Police said late Sunday that government forces were seeking to “eliminate” a number of armed militants inside the Villa Rose after attacking the hotel in a hail of bullets and explosions.
National police spokesman Sadik Dudishe said many civilians and officials had been rescued, but did not offer further details.
Witnesses described two massive explosions followed by gunfire that sent people fleeing the scene in Bondhere district. The hotel is just a few blocks from the office of Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
Al-Shabab, a militant group affiliated with Al-Qaeda that has been trying to overthrow Somalia’s central government for 15 years, claimed responsibility for the attack.
The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), a 20,000-strong military force drawn from across the continent, praised the “swift” security response to the attack in a statement late Sunday.
On its website the Villa Rose describes the hotel as the “most secure lodging arrangement in Mogadishu” with metal detectors and a high perimeter wall.
Al-Shabab has intensified attacks against civilian and military targets as Somalia’s newly-elected government has pursued a policy of “all-out war” against the Islamists.
The security forces, backed by local militias, ATMIS and US air strikes, have driven Al-Shabab from central parts of the country in recent months, but the offensive has drawn retribution.
On October 29, two cars packed with explosives blew up minutes apart in Mogadishu followed by gunfire, killing at least 121 people and injuring 333 others.
It was the deadliest attack in the fragile Horn of Africa nation in five years.
At least 21 people were killed in a siege on a Mogadishu hotel in August that lasted 30 hours before security forces could take control from the militants inside.
The UN said earlier this month that at least 613 civilians had been killed and 948 injured in violence this year in Somalia, mostly caused by improvised explosive devices attributed to Al-Shabab.
The figures were the highest since 2017 and a more-than 30-percent rise from last year.


Police detain two people at Shanghai protest site

Police detain two people at Shanghai protest site
Updated 28 November 2022

Police detain two people at Shanghai protest site

Police detain two people at Shanghai protest site
  • Demonstrators gathered over the weekend to protest China’s COVID-19 lockdowns

SHANGHAI: Police on Monday detained two people at a site in Shanghai where demonstrators gathered over the weekend to protest China’s COVID-19 lockdowns and call for greater political freedoms, an AFP journalist witnessed.
When asked why one of the people was taken away, a policeman said that “because he didn’t obey our arrangements” and then referred the reporter to local police.


Pockets of shelling across Ukraine as wintry warfare looms

Elderly residents are evacuated from the southern city of Kherson, Ukraine, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022. (AP)
Elderly residents are evacuated from the southern city of Kherson, Ukraine, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022. (AP)
Updated 28 November 2022

Pockets of shelling across Ukraine as wintry warfare looms

Elderly residents are evacuated from the southern city of Kherson, Ukraine, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022. (AP)
  • Kherson city, which was liberated more than two weeks ago — a development that Zelensky called a turning point in the war — has faced intense shelling in recent days by Russian forces nearby

KHERSON, Ukraine: Russian forces struck eastern and southern Ukraine early Sunday as utility crews scrambled to restore power, water and heating with the onset of snow and frigid temperatures, while civilians continued to leave the southern city of Kherson because of the devastation wreaked by recent attacks and their fears of more ahead.
With persistent snowfall blanketing the capital, Kyiv, Sunday, analysts predicted that wintry weather — bringing with it frozen terrain and grueling fighting conditions — could have an increasing impact on the conflict that has raged since Russian forces invaded Ukraine more than nine months ago.
Both sides were already bogged down by heavy rain and muddy battlefield conditions, experts said.
After a blistering series of Russian artillery strikes on infrastructure that started last month, workers were fanning out in around-the-clock deployments to restore key basic services as many Ukrainians were forced to cope with only a few hours of electricity per day — if any.
Ukrenergo, the state power grid operator, said Sunday that electricity producers are now supplying about 80 percent of demand, compared to 75 percent the previous day.
The deprivations have revived jousting between Ukraine’s president and Kyiv’s mayor. Mayor Vitali Klitschko on Sunday defended himself against allegations levelled by President Volodymyr Zelensky that too many Kyiv residents were still without power and that insufficient centers had been set up for them to stock up on food, water, battery power and other essentials.
Kitschko wrote on Telegram that hundreds of such centers are in operation, as well as hundreds of emergency generators, adding that “I do not want, especially in the current situation, to enter into political battles. It’s ridiculous.”
The president and the mayor have sporadically sparred since Zelensky took office in 2019. Zelensky has accused Klitschko and officials around him of corruption, while Klitschko contends the president’s office has put him under political pressure.
The Institute for the Study of War, a think tank that has been closely monitoring developments in Ukraine, said reporting from both sides indicated that heavy rain and mud have had an impact — along with wider freezing expected along the front lines in the coming days.
“It is unclear if either side is actively planning or preparing to resume major offensive or counter-offensive operations at that time, but the meteorological factors that have been hindering such operations will begin lifting,” it said in a note published Saturday.
ISW said Russian forces were digging in further east of the city of Kherson, from which Ukrainian forces expelled them more than two weeks ago, and continued “routine artillery fire” across the Dnieper River.
The think tank also cited reports that Russian forces were moving multiple launch rocket and ground-to-air missile systems into positions closer to the city as part of a possible plan to step up “the tempo of rocket and anti-air missile strikes against ground targets north of the Dnieper River in the coming days.”
Kherson city, which was liberated more than two weeks ago — a development that Zelensky called a turning point in the war — has faced intense shelling in recent days by Russian forces nearby.
The top UN official in Ukraine said civilians, many of whom lamented unlivable conditions and feared more strikes to come, continued to pour out of Kherson on Sunday.
“The level of destruction, the scope of the destruction, what’s required in the city and in the oblast — it’s massive,” said UN resident coordinator Denise Brown, referring to the region. UN teams were ferrying in supplies like food, water, shelter materials, medicines, and blankets and mattresses, she said.
“Time is of the essence, of course, before it becomes an absolute catastrophe,” Brown told The Associated Press in Kherson.
Galina Lugova, head of the city’s military administration, said in an interview that evacuation trains had been lined up and bomb shelters set up in all city districts with stoves, beds, first aid kits and fire extinguishers.
“We are preparing for a winter in difficult conditions, but we will do everything to make people safe,” Lugova said. Her biggest worry, she said, was “shelling that intensifies every day. Shelling, shelling and shelling again.”
On the roads out of the city, some residents felt they had no choice but to leave.
“The day before yesterday, artillery hit our house. Four flats burned down. Windows shattered,” said Vitaliy Nadochiy, driving out with a terrier on his lap and a Ukrainian flag dangling from a sun visor. “We can’t be there. There is no electricity, no water, heating. So we are leaving to go to my brother.”
In the eastern Donetsk region, five people were killed in shelling over the past day, governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said. Overnight shelling was reported by regional leaders in the Zaporizhzhia and Dnipropetrovsk areas to the west. In addition, he said two people were killed in artillery firing on the town of Kurakhove.
Kharkiv governor Oleh Syniehubov said one person was killed and three wounded in the northeastern region.
Russian rockets hit unspecified railroad facilities in Kryvyi Rih, Zelensky’s hometown, on Sunday, according to a regional official. No injuries were immediately reported.