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Kenya: Somali Islamists, al Shabaab bombs hotel, attack workers

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Gunmen blasted their way into a hotel and office complex in the Kenyan capital on Tuesday, sending workers fleeing for their lives as others cowered under their desks from an attack claimed by Somali Islamists al Shabaab.

At least one person was killed and eight wounded, hospital officials said. Police warned the “terror attack” may still be ongoing, with the assailants still inside the upscale 14 Riverside Drive complex.

“The main door of the hotel was blown open and there was a human arm in the street severed from the shoulder,” said Serge Medic, the Swiss owner of a security company who ran to the scene to help civilians when he heard of the attack from his taxi driver.

Medic, who was armed, entered the building with a policeman and two soldiers, he said, but they came under fire and retreated. An unexploded grenade lay in the lobby, he said.

“One man said he saw two armed men with scarves on their head and bandoliers of bullets,” Medic told Reuters, as gunfire echoed in the background, more than two hours after the attack began.

A woman shot in the leg was carried out and three men emerged covered in blood. Some office workers climbed out of windows. Many told Reuters that they had had to leave colleagues behind, still huddled under their desks.

“There’s a grenade in the bathroom,” one officer yelled as police rushed out from one building.

“We heard a loud bang from something that was thrown inside. Then I saw shattered glass,” Geoffrey Otieno, who works at a beauty salon in the complex, told Reuters. “We hid until we were rescued.”

Kenya has often been targeted by al Shabaab, who killed dozens of people in a shopping centre in 2013 and nearly 150 students at a university in 2015.

“We are behind the attack in Nairobi. The operation is going on,” said Abdiasis Abu Musab, the group’s military operations spokesman.

According to its website, 14 Riverside is home to the local offices of international companies including BASF, Colgate Palmolive, Reckitt Benckiser, Pernod Ricard, Dow Chemical and SAP, as well as the dusitD2 hotel, part of the Thai hotel group Dusit Thani.

The Australia embassy is across the road from the compound. Kenya is an expatriate hub for diplomats, aid workers, businessmen and others operating around east Africa.

“I just started hearing gunshots, and then started seeing people running away raising their hands up and some were entering the bank to hide for their lives,” a woman working in a bank in the complex said, adding she had heard two explosions.

Kenyan television featured appeals for blood from local hospitals and showed police cordoning off the route to ensure vehicles could move quickly. Red Cross ambulances ferried victims away.

Al Shabaab says its attacks in Kenya are revenge for Kenyan troops stationed inside Somalia which has been riven by civil war since 1991.

The Kenyan troops, concentrated in the south, originally went into Somalia to try to create a buffer zone along the border. They are now part of an African Union peacekeeping force supporting the weak U.N.-backed central government.

Reuters

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SECURITY

Boko Haram strikes in Yobe

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The anti-insurgency military operations in the North-east have suffered a setback with the attacks on troops in Borno and Yobe States in which a total of two officers and 26 soldiers were killed.

An army commander, of the rank of Colonel and 20 soldiers were reportedly killed in an ambush by Boko Haram, in Yobe State while another Colonel and six others, including a Captain, died in Borno State.
The attacks came amidst heightened worries over the security situation in the country, which has triggered a national conversation on the urgent need for the federal government to stem the tide.

As part of concerted efforts to find a solution to the insecurity in the country, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, visited President Muhammadu Buhari and urged him to beef up security in the South-west, where he claimed strangers have taken over the forests in the region to unleash violence on the people.

Also yesterday, the Senate, again, was worried about the security situation in the country, saying it is creating a humanitarian crisis in Northern Nigeria.

The death toll in the latest attacks in Borno and Yobe states, brings to 52, the number of soldiers killed within two months by the combined forces of the Islamic State for West Africa Province (ISWAP) and Boko Haram in the North-east.

In the Yobe attack, the troops were ambushed on Wednesday while on their way to the headquarters of 29 Task Force Brigade of the Nigerian Army located in Benisheik, as they returned from Borogozo in the state.

Military sources in the theatre of war, said the brigade commander, a colonel, and 20 soldiers, were killed when they ran into an ambush.
Sector 2 Command of Operation Lafiya Dole has sent reinforcement to the area while bodies of the soldiers were moved to the 7 Division Headquarters in Maiduguri.

Army spokesman, Col Sagir Musa, said on the phone that the army would issue a statement on the attack but had not done so as to at the time of filing this report.

In the Borno attack, the Army Colonel, a captain, and his four escorts, as well as driver, were killed by rampaging Boko Haram insurgents between Mainok and Jakana on the Damaturu/Maiduguri highway.

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US honors Imam Abubakar Abdullahi

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Imam Abubakar Abdullahi has received the International Religious Freedom Award by the US Government, for hiding 262 Berom Christians in his mosque and in his house in June 2018 when herdsmen launched a bloody attack on 10 villages in Plateau State.

The 83-year-old Islamic cleric received the award alongside others from Cyprus, Sudan, Brazil, and Iraq.
US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, confirmed that Abdullahi couldn’t make it to the main ceremony to honor him at the United States, but went on to read his profile at the event. He said, “another awardee who could not make it tonight, but I just have to read this about him.”

A statement from the US Department of State reads “Imam Abdullai selflessly risked his own life to save members of another religious community, who would have likely been killed without his intervention.
“On June 23, 2018, ethnic Fulani herdsmen, who are predominantly Muslim, launched coordinated attacks on 10 villages in Barkin Ladi, killing hundreds of ethnic Berom farmers, who are predominantly Christian.

“As Imam Abdullahi was finishing midday prayers, he and his congregation heard gunshots and went outside to see members of the town’s Christian community fleeing. Instinctively, the Imam ushered 262 Christians into the mosque and his home next to the mosque.

“The Imam then went outside to confront the gunmen and he refused to allow them to enter, pleading with them to spare the Christians inside, even offering to sacrifice his life for theirs. Although the gunmen killed 84 people in Nghar village that day, Imam Abdullahi’s actions saved the lives of hundreds more.

“Imam Abdullahi’s courage in the face of imminent danger and his history of outreach across religious divides demonstrates his lifelong commitment to promoting interfaith understanding and peace.”

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FG says Court will decide El- Zakzaky’s fate

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The Presidency on Friday urged the El- Zakzaky-led Shiite members to allow the court to decide the fate of their leader.

A statement by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and publicity, Garba Shehu, appealed to the Shiite members to desist from needless violent street protests and await the decision of the court in Kaduna where their leader is currently being tried.

Shehu said “The issue of El-ZakZaky is before the court in Kaduna and his supporters should focus on his on-going trial instead of causing daily damages, disruptions and public nuisance in Abuja.

“It is wrong to be in court and resort to violence at the same time in order to get justice for anybody accused.
“The destruction of public property in the name of protest is not within the right of this group of Shiite members and no government anywhere would have tolerated a situation where any group would take over public roads in cities as they have done in Abuja and interfere with the rights of other citizens who are prevented from reaching their destinations.

“We imagine a situation where families are taking their loved ones to hospital for emergency treatment and they are held up needlessly by the protesters. No government anywhere in the world would turn a blind eye to this unlawful behavior.”

According to him, the Federal Government no longer have hand in the matter.

“As far as this country’s Ministry of Justice is concerned, the case involving El-Zakzaky is no longer in its domain.

“The Federal Government no more has hands in the matter and to that extent, the government at the centre can be said to be clear of any alleged violations of court orders as being trumpeted every day.

“These rallies and street dances ostensibly to openly insult the President and other leaders, threatening bloodshed will lead nowhere because President Buhari will not ask the country’s judiciary to abandon due process and set a suspect free.
“At the same time, the administration is determined to enforce the decision of the court clearly issued. The Buhari administration has absolutely no hand in the on-going court case and the courts are free to determine the bail request and the final outcome.

“The mentality that you are above the law and that your own rights are superior to other people’s rights is unacceptable.

“You can’t be provoking other citizens by interfering with their own rights on public roads and disrupting their businesses and call it democratic freedom. In democratic traditions, their rights end where the rights of others begin.

“Law abiding citizens must avoid deliberate lawlessness. It is not within the rights of any group to enter protected public institutions such as the National Assembly by force to attack police and destroy public and private property.”

He noted that it is always advisable to embrace dialogue and eschew violence so that Nigerians can continue to live together in peace.

“We, therefore, appeal to the Shiite group to stop deliberate provocations that result in violence and fatalities and allow the trial of El-ZakZaky to take its course.” he stated

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NBA insists on community policing

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The Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) has told the federal government to quickly concede to the much-touted community policing as a way of rescuing the nation out of the senseless killings being experienced across the nation.

Masked security force

The body insisted that it will be difficult for the country to get out of the messy situation being witnessed in the nation with the present security architecture being firmly controlled by the government at the center.

NBA also opposed the agitation that there should be special courts to try corruption cases in Nigeria, saying the present judicial arrangement was enough to handle cases bordering on graft.

The Chairman, NBA Ikere chapter, Ekiti State, Oludayo Olorunfemi, spoke in Ikere Ekiti on Thursday during a press conference heralding the maiden edition of the branch’s Law Week commencing on July 22.

Olorunfemi regretted how the traditional rulers have allowed their domains to become safe havens for criminals, describing them as the closest political organs to the grassroots.

“We believe the community policing is the best option against these killings that are affecting everybody. Most of those who ought to attend our programme have declined because of the killing of Mrs Funke Olakunrin, which makes Ekiti and Ondo axis looked unsafe.

“Two members of the NBA in Ekiti have been killed by bandits. When we lost the Secretary of this branch last year December, it was tragic to us. The family is yet to recover from it.

“0ur traditional rulers should not allow criminals to use their towns as dens for evil doing. It seems our traditional rulers are folding their arms. Apart from the state security apparatuses, they are the closest to the people. Ekiti is known as the land of Omoluabi and honour. It should not be a comfortable area for criminals.

“Community policing is the best option, you don’t expect the police or soldiers who don’t understand the terrain or who were brought from outside to fish out criminals. What are the local hunters doing?” the NBA scribe asked.

She added that the present judicial arrangement was sufficed to adjudicate on issues of corruption, saying there are laid down rules on how to deal with corruption-related cases.

Olorunfemi stated that part of the programme would be Wole Olanipekun Public Lecture that would be delivered by the Ekiti State’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Wale Fapohunda.

She added that lawyers from the branch will also give free legal and health services to residents of Ikere Ekiti and environs, as part of the five-day event.

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