German troops back to Bosnia as fear of instability grows

German troops back to Bosnia as fear of instability grows
Germany will deploy some 30 troops in total to Bosnia by mid-September. (AFP)
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Updated 16 August 2022

German troops back to Bosnia as fear of instability grows

German troops back to Bosnia as fear of instability grows
  • NATO and senior EU officials have warned that instability from the war in Ukraine could spread to the Western Balkans
  • Bosnian Serb separatist leader Milorad Dodik, during a visit to Novi Grad, said that German troops were not welcome

BERLIN: Germany has deployed troops with the European Union’s peacekeeping mission in Bosnia for the first time in a decade as concerns mount instability from the Ukraine war could spread to the Western Balkans.
On Tuesday, the first German troops to return to the country were greeted in a ceremony at the Sarajevo headquarters of the EUFOR force that marked the start of their mission, a German military spokesman said.
Germany will deploy some 30 troops in total to Bosnia by mid-September, returning to the force that it had left at the end of 2012.
Bosnia is hundreds of miles from the fighting in Ukraine but faces an increasingly assertive Bosnian Serb separatist movement that analysts say has at least tacit support from Moscow.
NATO and senior EU officials have warned that instability from the war in Ukraine could spread to the Western Balkans.
Only days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the EU decided to almost double the size of its EUFOR peacekeeping force to 1,100 from 600 troops by sending in reserves to stave off potential instability.
During a visit to the northern town of Novi Grad on Tuesday, Bosnian Serb separatist leader Milorad Dodik said German troops are not welcome, referring to Germany’s role in the World War Two. Dodik has previously said he regretted agreeing as a member of the state presidency to extend the mandate of EUFOR.
EUFOR’s mandate runs out in November, and it is up to the UN Security Council to decide whether to extend it for another year. Concerns are growing in the West that Moscow might use its veto to prevent an agreement.
The Russian embassy in Bosnia in a statement on its website decried “unacceptable references” to the impact of events in Ukraine on the situation in Bosnia and said EUFOR itself had described the situation as peaceful and stable in its last report to the UN Security Council.
“The narrative about the need to expand the EUFOR military personnel, including the German troops, is unfounded,” it said.
The statement added that some Western states, primarily the United States and Britain, were preparing the ground for a “crawling NATO-ization” of Bosnia.
EUFOR replaced NATO peacekeeping troops in Bosnia in 2004.
The European troops are meant to stabilize the country after Bosnia’s Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks waged a war for territory in the 1990s in which 100,000 people died.


Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant remains under Russian control – Moscow-installed authorities

Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant remains under Russian control – Moscow-installed authorities
Updated 12 sec ago

Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant remains under Russian control – Moscow-installed authorities

Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant remains under Russian control – Moscow-installed authorities
  • Ukraine and Russia accuse each other of shelling the site of the Zaporizhzhia reactor complex
  • UN nuclear watchdog wants to create a protection zone around the nuclear power station
KYIV: The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine remains under Russian control, authorities installed by Moscow in the nearby city of Enerhodar said on Monday, after a Ukrainian official suggested Russian forces were preparing to leave.
“The media are actively spreading fake news that Russia is allegedly planning to withdraw from Enerhodar and leave the (plant). This information is not true,” the Russia-installed administration wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
The head of Ukraine’s state-run nuclear energy company said on Sunday there were signs that Russian forces might be preparing to vacate the vast Zaporizhzhia plant which they seized in March, soon after invading Ukraine.
Ukraine, which suffered the world’s worst nuclear accident in Chornobyl in 1986, and Russia have accused each other of shelling the site of the Zaporizhzhia reactor complex.
Both sides have warned of the danger of a nuclear catastrophe. The UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency), wants to create a protection zone around the nuclear power station, which is Europe’s largest.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said late on Sunday that he had no doubt that Russian forces would leave the plant, where Ukrainian staff are still operating. Many of these workers live in Enerhodar.
“The defense line is starting to retreat to the borders of the Russian Federation,” Podolyak told Ukrainian television, adding that Ukraine would “take it (the plant) back.”
Ukraine’s military said on Monday its forces late last week destroyed six units of Russian military equipment and that about 30 Russian servicemen were wounded in fighting near Enerhodar.
Reuters was not able to immediately verify the reports.
Russian President Vladimir Putin moved in September to annex Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and the Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine where his forces say they have partial control. Kyiv and its Western allies condemned the move as illegal.

US and Russia discuss release of Griner and Whelan — RIA

US and Russia discuss release of Griner and Whelan — RIA
Updated 28 November 2022

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.


Four dead in hotel siege in Somali capital: security agency

Four dead in hotel siege in Somali capital: security agency
Updated 16 min 49 sec ago

Four dead in hotel siege in Somali capital: security agency

Four dead in hotel siege in Somali capital: security agency
  • 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: At least four people were killed in an ongoing attack by Al-Shabab militants who laid siege to a popular hotel in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu overnight, a security agency official said on Monday.

Gunfire and explosions could still be heard more than 12 hours after the militants stormed the hotel near the presidential palace in a hail of bullets.

Mohamed Dahir, an official from the national security agency, said the gunmen were holed up in a room at the Villa Rose surrounded by government forces.

“So far we have confirmed the death of four people,” he said, adding that others had been rescued from the besieged venue.

“Very soon the situation will return to normal.”

Government officials were among others injured, he added.

The Villa Rose is frequented by MPs and located in a secure central part of the capital 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.

Police said the gunmen rushed into the hotel in Bondhere district at around 8:00 p.m. (1700 GMT) on Sunday and an operation was under way to “eliminate” them.

More than 12 hours later, witnesses near the scene described still hearing loud explosions and gunfire.

“I saw several military vehicles with special forces heading toward the hotel, and a few minutes later, there was heavy gunfire and explosions,” said local witness Mahad Yare.

In a statement late Sunday, 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.

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 recently-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 were able to overpower 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.