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Gunmen storm Nairobi hotel complex

Gunmen have blasted their way into an upscale hotel and office complex in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, in an attack claimed by Somalia-based armed group al-Shabab. Kenyan police chief Joseph Boinnet said on Tuesday that the attack began with an explosion targeting cars followed by a detonation from a suicide bomber. “We can now confirm that this…

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Gunmen storm Nairobi hotel complex

Gunmen have blasted their way into an upscale hotel and office complex in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, in an attack claimed by Somalia-based armed group al-Shabab.

Kenyan police chief Joseph Boinnet said on Tuesday that the attack began with an explosion targeting cars followed by a detonation from a suicide bomber.

“We can now confirm that this criminal activity commenced at about three o’clock [1200 GMT] in a coordinated fashion and began at I&M Bank with an explosion that targeted three vehicles in the parking lot…,” Boinnet said in a statement on television.

The attack on the Dusit hotel complex – which also houses offices and banks – sent people fleeing for their lives. More than three hours after the attack began, small groups of workers were still being taken out by officers escorting them to armoured vehicles.

“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 when he heard of the attack from his taxi driver.

“It is terrible. What I have seen is terrible. I have seen a human as I ran out and there is what looks like minced meat all over,” said a man who ran from the scene. He did not elaborate further.

Al-Shabab claims responsibility

The al-Shabab group, which has been fighting the western-backed government in Somalia, claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that it was in control of most parts of the building complex.

“Our fighters killed 47 enemies inside the complex. The mujahideen are still in control of most parts of the building complex,” the group’s military operations spokesman, Abdiaziz Abu Mus’ab, told Al Jazeera. 

Cars are seen on fire at the scene of the attack [Thomas Mukoya/Reuters]

However, no casualty figures have been released by officials.

Boinnet earlier said that police had secured six out of seven floors at the Dusit hotel complex that fighters attacked.

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.

A bomb disposal unit was on the scene.

The attack came a day after a trial began in the 2013 Westgate mall attack case. At least 67 people were in killed in that attack, which was also carried out by al-Shabab group.

Kenyan prosecutors say suspects in the Westgate case currently on trial committed a terrorist act and used false documents. The men deny all charges.

The African Union chief, Moussa Faki, condemned the attack and commended Kenyan security forces for their “swift response”.

A spate of attacks

The East African country faced a spate of attacks after it sent its army into Somalia in 2011 to fight the al-Qaeda-linked group.

Kenyan troops, concentrated in south Somalia, originally went into Somalia to try to create a buffer zone along the border. They are now part of an African Union peacekeeping force.

Tuesday’s attack is exactly three years after al-Shabab overran a Kenyan army base in Somalia, killing dozens of soldiers.

On April 2, 2015, in one of the most gruesome attacks on Kenyan soil, the armed group killed 148 people, most of them students, at a university in Garissa, eastern Kenya.

People being evacuated from the scene of the attack [Thomas Mukoya/Reuters]

SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies

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Saudi Arabia issues calming statement as Lebanese tensions rise over port explosion case

BEIRUT: Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Lebanon Waleed Bukhari told Lebanese religious figures on Tuesday that the Kingdom “cares for Lebanon’s security, stability, institutions and co-existence between Christians and Muslims.” The Saudi embassy’s media office said: “There is no legitimacy for the discourse of strife, nor for one that goes against Lebanon’s Arab identity.” This was…

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Saudi Arabia issues calming statement as Lebanese tensions rise over port explosion case

BEIRUT: Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Lebanon Waleed Bukhari told Lebanese religious figures on Tuesday that the Kingdom “cares for Lebanon’s security, stability, institutions and co-existence between Christians and Muslims.”

The Saudi embassy’s media office said: “There is no legitimacy for the discourse of strife, nor for one that goes against Lebanon’s Arab identity.”

This was the first Saudi statement since the bloody clashes in Tayouneh on Oct. 14.

At least seven people were killed in the violence in Beirut amid a protest organized by Hezbollah and its allies against the lead judge probing last year’s blast at the city’s port.

The protestors, gathered by Hezbollah and the Amal Movement, demanded the removal of Judge Tarek Bitar from the investigation.

According to the embassy’s statement, Lebanon’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Derian “expressed his appreciation for the Kingdom, led by King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, for never abandoning Lebanon and its people, despite the unfair stances against the Kingdom by some Lebanese parties that only represent themselves.”

Sheikh Derian added that “the Saudi-Lebanese relations have always been and will remain solid regardless of any offensive speeches because our relations are above these speeches and Saudi Arabia will always see Lebanon as an Arab brotherly country.”

The statement comes after the Intelligence Directorate summoned the head of the Lebanese Forces, Samir Geagea, to the Defense Ministry on Wednesday as part of the investigation into the bloodshed in Tayouneh.

The summoning was the motivation for Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi’s spontaneous visits on Tuesday to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Najib Mikati and President Michel Aoun.

Al-Rahi denounced “the summoning of Geagea only by the Intelligence Directorate to testify.”

Charles Jabbour from the Lebanese Forces party told Arab News that “Geagea will not appear at the Defense Ministry on Wednesday.

“They should start with summoning Hezbollah Leader Hassan Nasrallah. All parties should give testimonies, beginning with the party that called for the demonstration. Only when a judge dares to summon Nasrallah, will we be able to talk about a state and a judiciary in Lebanon.”

The move to summon Geagea was condemned by several political figures.

Former Premier Saad Hariri refused “to engage in an absurd conflict and the frontlines of a civil war and sectarian divisions.”

He added: “Announcing that Dr. Geagea was informed to appear before the Intelligence Directorate via a plastered notification is absurd and leads the country into further division along with using state machinery for revenge politics.”

Former Premier Fouad Siniora also denounced “the bias of the judicial authorities in the military court over the deplorable Tayouneh events and the continuing violations of the constitutions by those who were entrusted with the task of preserving and protecting it.”

Siniora rejected “the practices seeking to use the judiciary for reprisals against political opponents, and not for its main mission: To seek the truth and achieve justice.”

Lebanon’s Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat criticized the “selectivity instead of a transparent and just investigation for a comprehensive justice.”

He said: “All those who fired shots in the Tayouneh events should be arrested, without discrimination, and this destructive and futile political dispute must be ended.”

Samy Gemayel, head of the Lebanese Kataeb Party, announced his rejection to “all the means Hezbollah and the Amal Movement have resorted to in hampering the investigation into the Beirut port blast.”

Hezbollah accused Geagea of firing the first shot on Oct. 14 at the demonstrators who penetrated the anti-Hezbollah and Christian-majority Ain Remaneh area.

Former Prime Minister Hassan Diab, who is also a defendant in the Beirut port explosion investigation, visited Sheikh Derian on Tuesday, reiterating his demand “to either lift immunity from everyone without exception, or adopt the legal and constitutional mechanisms in force in the Supreme Council for the Trial of Presidents and Ministers.”

So far, all the politicians who have been accused of being involved in the Beirut port blast have declined to appear before Judge Bitar.

Amal Movement and Hezbollah ministers have refused to attend Cabinet sessions unless Judge Bitar is removed and the investigations into Tayouneh are halted, causing a governmental paralysis at a time when Lebanon is in desperate need of reforms to unblock the international aid that would lessen its dire economic situation.

Prime Minister Mikati hoped on Tuesday that “Cabinet meetings will resume as soon as possible to make the decisions required to activate the work of commissions and committees and do what is needed from the government.”

Mikati added that he hoped his government would supervise “the parliamentary elections with full integrity, to enable these elections to renew the political life in Lebanon.”

The joint parliamentary committees held a session on Tuesday and voted to keep the electoral law as it was, thus rejecting Aoun’s proposal to make amendments.

Aoun had objected to holding the elections on March 27 and to the proposals to change the expatriate voting formula by canceling the six seats allocated for Lebanese voters who live abroad.

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Damascus bookshops disappear as crisis hits culture

LONDON: A former Iranian air force pilot exiled in Turkey has said he still feels unsafe after a failed kidnapping attempt last month. Mehrdad Abdarbashi, a former helicopter pilot who defected from the military when he was ordered to fight in Syria, had previously tried to resign from the armed forces, but Tehran rejected his…

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Damascus bookshops disappear as crisis hits culture

LONDON: A former Iranian air force pilot exiled in Turkey has said he still feels unsafe after a failed kidnapping attempt last month.

Mehrdad Abdarbashi, a former helicopter pilot who defected from the military when he was ordered to fight in Syria, had previously tried to resign from the armed forces, but Tehran rejected his resignation and seized his passport.

In 2018, he said he received orders to be deployed to Syria on behalf of the Assad regime and decided it was time to flee Iran.

“It was the first time I was being deployed there, and I refused because I did not want to be involved in a proxy war going on there,” he told Al Jazeera.

He is now in hiding in eastern Turkey, and was recently targeted by two Iranian agents who tried to drug and kidnap him.

Turkish intelligence, which had been in contact with Abdarbashi, foiled the plot. The Iranian agents were charged with espionage and conspiracy to commit a crime in a Turkish court earlier this month.

But Abdarbashi said he still fears the Iranian regime will reach him despite Ankara’s protection.

“I don’t think I am safe in any city in Turkey right now. I think Iranian intelligence will come after me, and this time they won’t try to kidnap me, this time they will just kill me,” he said.

“Of course, Turkish police and intelligence are still looking after me. But I still think Iranian agents will somehow reach me.”

Iranian exiles in Turkey are often targeted by Tehran’s agents, who try to kidnap them to bring them back to the Islamic Republic.

In June 2020, Eisa Bazyar, a writer critical of the Iranian regime, was forced into a car in western Turkey and held for two days before he managed to escape.

The following November, Habib Chaab, an Iranian dissident with Swedish citizenship, was seized as he transited through an Istanbul airport.

For a period of time, it appeared that Ankara was complying with and even directly cooperating with Tehran’s attempts to kidnap foreign dissidents and bring them back to Iran.

In two cases, Ankara assisted with the capture and deportation of men sentenced to death for their role in anti-regime protests.

But last year’s war between Azerbaijan — perhaps the nation with the closest ties to Ankara — and Armenia over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh appears to have prompted a cooling in relations between Turkey and Iran. Their opposing sides in the Syrian conflict has also proved a more subtle bone of contention.

As relations between the two large Middle Eastern states — which share a long border and have a centuries-old history of Persian-Turkic competition — have declined, Ankara’s cooperation with Iranian intelligence operations on Turkish soil appears to have ceased.

In February this year, Turkish police arrested an Iranian diplomat at the Istanbul consulate in connection with the assassination of spy-turned-dissident Masoud Molavi Vardanjani in November 2019. 

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Kuwait Times Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Daily E- Paper – Kuwait Times   Click above icon to download full news paper   The post Kuwait Times Wednesday, October 27, 2021 appeared first on Kuwait Times.

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Kuwait Times Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Daily E- Paper – Kuwait Times

 

Click above icon to download full news paper

 

The post Kuwait Times Wednesday, October 27, 2021 appeared first on Kuwait Times.

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