Daily Archives: July 6, 2015

44 killed in bomb blasts in Nigeria's Jos

NNA – At least 44 people were killed in twin bomb blasts in the central Nigerian city of Jos, the country’s main relief agency said on Monday, after a bloody week of violence blamed on Boko Haram.

“At the moment we have 44 dead bodies and 47 others injured from the scenes of the two attacks,” said Mohammed Abdulsalam, from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

Earlier, police in Plateau state, of which Jos is the capital, said at least 18 people had lost their lives in Sunday night’s attacks at a shopping complex and near a popular mosque.

Discrepancies in death tolls are not unusual in Nigeria. The police, military and government authorities have previously downplayed death tolls in the Boko Haram insurgency.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks but religiously divided Jos has been targeted before by the Islamist militants.

Plateau, which falls on the dividing line between Nigeria’s mainly Christian south and mostly Muslim north, has also seen waves of sectarian violence that has killed thousands over the last decade.

Boko Haram has stepped up its attacks in northern Nigeria since the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari on May 29, with a wave of raids, explosions and suicide bombings.

With the latest attacks, more than 500 people have been killed, according to AFP reporting.

On Sunday, a suicide bomber blew himself up inside a church in the city of Potiskum, in Yobe state, northeast Nigeria, killing five worshipers.

Last week, Islamist militants fighters raided a number of villages around the Lake Chad area, killing more than 150 worshipers as they prayed in mosques.–AFP

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18 killed in bomb blasts in Nigeria's Jos

NNA – At least 18 people were killed in twin bomb blasts in the central Nigerian city of Jos, police said on Monday, after a bloody week of violence blamed on Boko Haram militants.

“We have 18 dead as of last night (Sunday),” Plateau state police spokesman Emmanuel Abuh told AFP, adding many more people were injured and that the death toll could rise.

“We are trying to move from one hospital to another to determine how many have died,” he said.

The first explosion went off at about 9:14 pm (2014 GMT) at a shopping complex near a bus station and the University of Jos. A second detonated about four minutes later near a popular mosque.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks but Jos, the religiously divided capital of Plateau state, has been targeted before by Boko Haram militants.

Plateau, which falls on the dividing line between Nigeria’s mainly Christian south and mostly Muslim north, has also seen waves of sectarian violence that has killed thousands over the last decade.

Boko Haram has stepped up its attacks in northern Nigeria since the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari on May 29, with a wave of raids, explosions and suicide bombings.

With the latest attacks, nearly 500 people have been killed, according to AFP reporting.

On Sunday, a suicide bomber blew himself up inside a church in the city of Potiskum, in Yobe state, northeast Nigeria, killing five worshipers.

Last week, Islamist militants fighters raided a number of villages around the Lake Chad area, killing more than 150 worshipers as they prayed in mosques.–AFP

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Latin America Loves the Pope

The crowds are ecstatic. “Ecuador marks the beginning of a week-long, three-nation tour that includes Bolivia and Paraguay and that is being hailed as a homecoming of sorts for the Argentine-born pontiff…Francis made most of the 24-mile trip from the airport to Quito in a conventional vehicle, but he spent the final leg in the “popemobile” — an open air, converted Jeep. At times, the outpouring was so enthusiastic that the crowds seemed to be using him for target practice, flinging hats into the vehicle and pelting him with flowers and live doves. Women broke through police lines to try to shove babies into his arms.” (Miami Herald http://hrld.us/1ffh4ye)

A Boost for Renewables in Africa…”Kenya set in motion the construction of Africa’s biggest wind power farm this week, near Laisamis, 550km north of Kenya’s capital Nairobi. Known as the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project, the wind farm site covers 40,000 acres (162km2), which will be powered by the ‘Turkana Corridorwind.’ It is a low-level jet stream originating from the Indian Ocean and blows all year round. The project will consist of 365 turbines and expected to achieve 68% load capacity factor, which will make it the most efficient wind power farm in the world.” (QZ http://bit.ly/1evXcpK)

Africa

A suicide bombing in a church in northeastern Nigeria on Sunday killed five people, police said. (Bloomberg http://bloom.bg/1evWY1F)

East African regional heads of state plan to meet in Tanzania’s commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, on Monday to assess and find a way to resolve the crisis in Burundi. (AFP http://bit.ly/1M53yr8)

Burundi’s ruling party and its allies on Sunday told a United Nations mediator to step down, just two weeks after he was sent to help resolve the central African nation’s political crisis. (France 24 http://f24.my/1evY3GT)

Six hunters in the Democratic Republic of Congo who fell sick and were suspected to have Ebola have tested negative for the virus, the health minister said on Saturday. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1TeGoTr)

The father of a 5-year-old girl in Burkina Faso who a French prosecutor says was sexually abused by a French soldier has hired a lawyer and vowed on Sunday to follow legal proceedings closely to ensure justice is done. (AP http://yhoo.it/1NK64UP)

South Sudan’s government said Sunday it was investigating United Nations allegations that its troops raped then burnt girls alive inside their homes during recent fighting in the country’s civil war. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1NK67jx)

Metema, with about 100,000 people, is one of a handful of towns across the region that serve as feeders for a booming trade in migrants from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia and Sudan, many hoping to make their way to Europe. Life here is now a cat-and-mouse game: The authorities are cracking down, yet the migrants just keep coming, often risking death. (AP http://yhoo.it/1HGcfZn)

MENA

Secretary of State John Kerry warned Iran on Sunday that hard choices were still needed to seal a landmark nuclear accord, and that the United States was prepared to walk away if a sound agreement could not be reached. The deadline is in two days. (NYT http://nyti.ms/1evXiO0 )

Hezbollah fighters and Syrian army troops launched fresh attacks Saturday on the southern Qalamoun city of Zabadani, near the Lebanese border, tightening a siege on rebels holed up in the area. (Daily Star http://bit.ly/1evX4qa)

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi declared a state of emergency on Saturday, saying the Islamist militant attack on a beach hotel that killed 38 foreigners had left the country “in a state of war”. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1S0O7C9)

A Moroccan journalist on hunger strike in Geneva, who was previously jailed for insulting the Moroccan king and is now being denied a passport, was told Sunday to return home to plead his case. (AP http://yhoo.it/1NK67A4)

The barren mountains separating the Lebanese village of Qaa from Syria have helped shield it from the war raging next door, yet fears of missile attacks, abductions and incursions have persisted since the conflict erupted more than four years ago. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1NK64Ew)

Iraqi Sunni political leaders are accusing the government of two bloody attacks on civilians in Anbar province in the past 24 hours. An Iraqi military spokesman denies the charges. (VOA http://bit.ly/1M53yaD)

Thousands of homes destroyed by Israeli strikes are yet to be rebuilt, a strict Israeli blockade and tightly controlled borders have added to Gazans’ misery and the risk of yet another conflict remains a threat. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1NK6iLK)

Asia

Floods inundated towns in the northern Philippines as Tropical Storm Linfa struck the northern edge of the archipelago, where relief agencies were braced for disaster on Sunday. (AFP http://bit.ly/1UplLoZ)

The World Bank has removed a sharply critical portion from a recently released report on China’s economy that called for reform of its financial system, saying the section had not been adequately reviewed and that its wording was inappropriate. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1LRjf8p)

A shoe factory collapsed in eastern China during a weekend shift, killing at least 11 people and injuring more than 30, officials said Sunday. (AP http://yhoo.it/1M53GH3)

The Americas

Pope Francis headed to Quito Sunday to begin his first South American trip in two years, for an eight-day tour of Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay highlighting the plight of the poor on his home continent. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1evWR6c)

…and the rest

The world needs to step up its efforts to tackle the crisis of 121 million children, particularly girls, who receive no formal schooling, Julia Gillard, the former Australian prime minister, has warned. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1TeGCKe)

Ukraine says five of its soldiers were killed and three wounded when a land mine exploded in the east of the country, where government troops are fighting Russia-backed separatists. (AP http://yhoo.it/1HGcdAB)

Opinion/Blogs

Need A Hand? Don’t Worry, The Ghanaians Got Your Back (Goats and Soda http://n.pr/1TeJmHJ)

South Africa: How History Textbooks Can Be Used to Build Childrens’ Empathy (The Conversation http://bit.ly/1HGckw4)

Is ‘China in Africa’ something to fear? (Monkey Cage http://wapo.st/1UpsmzV)

A Look at Hillary (and Bill) Clinton’s Past in Haiti (Africa is a Country http://bit.ly/1feYKVU)

We need to grow 50% more food yet agriculture causes climate change. How do we get out of this bind? (Guardian http://bit.ly/1feYXsj)

How Salt + Car Battery = Clean Water (Goats and Soda http://n.pr/1feZ8Uu)

On Being the Absolute Worst (Wronging Rights http://bit.ly/1feZdaG)

Can a new management tool help businesses align to SDGs? (Devex http://bit.ly/1feZVET)

Impact investing: hype v substance, the importance of ownership and the role of aid (From Poverty to Power http://bit.ly/1UpuYxK)

Should aid practitioners worry about economic inequality? (Devpolicy http://bit.ly/1UpvImw)

Discussion

comments…

“Strong possibility” Assad may use chemical weapons on a large scale to protect regime: U.S. intelligence

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Syria“Strong possibility” Assad may use chemical weapons on a large scale to protect regime: U.S. intelligence

Published 6 July 2015

U.S. intelligence agencies say there is a strong possibility the Assad regime will use chemical weapons on a large scale as part of a last-ditch effort to protect important Syrian government strongholds, or if the regime felt it had no other way to defend the core territory of its most reliable supporters, the Alawites. Following a 21 August 2013 sarin gas attack by the Syrian military on Sunni suburbs of Damascus, in which more than 1,400 civilians were killed, President Bashar al-Assad allowed international inspectors to remove the Syrian regime’s most toxic chemical weapons, but after the most toxic chemicals were removed, the Assad regime has developed and deployed a new type of chemical bomb filled with chlorine. Western intelligence services suspect that the regime may have kept at least a small quantity of the chemical precursors needed to make nerve agents sarin or VX.

U.S. intelligence agencies say there is a strong possibility the Assad regime will use chemical weapons on a large scale as part of a last-ditch effort to protect important Syrian government strongholds if rebel fighters and Islamists were about to overrun them.

U.S. officials told the Wall Street Journal that analysts and policy makers have been carefully examining all available intelligence in order to determine what types of chemical weapons the Assad regime might be able to deploy and what developments would trigger their use.

Following a 21 August 2013 sarin gas attack by the Syrian military on Sunni suburbs of Damascus, in which more than 1,400 civilians were killed, President Bashar al-Assad, under a threat of a U.S. military strike, allowed international inspectors to remove the Syrian regime’s most toxic chemical weapons.

U.S., European, and Israeli intelligence services say that after the most toxic chemicals were removed and more than a dozen chemical weapons production site dismantled, the Assad regime has developed and deployed a new type of chemical bomb filled with chlorine. U.S. intelligence officials say Assad may now decide to use these weapons on a larger scale in key strategic areas. U.S. officials told the Journal that they also suspect that the regime may have kept at least a small quantity of the chemical precursors needed to make nerve agents sarin or VX. Analysts note that the Assad regime has used chlorine-based chemical weapons on about two dozen occasions in 2014 and early 2015, but that if the regime were to employ sarin or VX weapons, the international reaction may be severe because these agents are more deadly than chlorine and were supposed to have been removed from Syria.

Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a former commanding officer of the British army’s chemical-weapons unit, said: “Even if the regime had only one ton of VX left, that would be enough to kill thousands of people.”

The intelligence is “being taken very seriously because he’s getting desperate” and because of doubts within the U.S. intelligence community that Assad gave up all of his deadliest chemical weapons, a senior U.S. official told the Journal.

A new analysis by the U.S. intelligence community suggests Assad could use these chemical weapons as a weapon of last resort to protect key military and regime installations, or if the regime felt it had no other way to defend the core territory of its most reliable supporters, the Alawites.

The analysis underlines what U.S. officials describe as growing signs of the Assad regime’s desperation on the battlefield.

Since January, moderate rebels — some backed by the CIA — and Islamic State militants have been pushing the Syrian military out of areas controlled by the regime, leaving critical military bases, strategic roads, and supply lines vulnerable, particularly in the country’s northwest, south, and in the Kalamoun mountain range which straddles the Syria-Lebanon border.

A worst-case scenario, the U.S. officials said, would be an open war between Islamists and Alawite-dominated communities near the Mediterranean coast, the home territory of the Alawites, the religious minority to which Assad belongs.

An additional worry, analysts say, is that the disintegration of the Syrian military has led not only to hasty retreats by Syrian units from important military bases in the country’s north, east, and south – but often to disorderly and panicky retreats, in which advanced weapon systems were abandoned, only to be seized by the anti-regime rebels. If the regime chemical weapons are not better guarded, there is a risk that they, too, will fall into rebels’ hands as the rebels continue to whittle away at territory held by the regime.

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