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Al-Shabaab militants attack key Somali towns day after President Mohamud called them ‘bedbugs’, kill 15

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Not less than 15 people have been confirmed killed and over 50 injured in three separate bombings in a strategic Somali towns in the central Hirshabelle state, carried out by the al-Shabaab militants a day after President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud called them “bedbugs.”

The Somali authorities said the simultaneous attacks on Saturday occured in Bulobarde town, kilometers north of Mogadishu, where suicide car bomb killed 11 people

“A suicide bomber driving an SUV vehicle laden with explosives came under fire from security forces before reaching his goal, but detonated explosives near a police station and the base of the African Union peacekeepers from Djibouti,” the statement said, quoting security agencies.

“At least 11 people were killed in the blast and more than 50 injured, 30 of them in critical condition,” Yusuf Isaq Mumin, a medical official in the town, told journalists.

“We are now sending those critically injured to Mogadishu since the local hospital has not the capacity to handle their cases here,” he added.

According to the report, another powerful car bomb exploded near a Somali military checkpoint in Jalalaqsi town, some 160 kilometers north of Mogadishu, when soldiers operating the checkpoint intercepted an explosives-laden vehicle.

“A vehicle driven by a suicide bomber detonated near the checkpoint. Another suicide bomber detonated a vehicle at a location close to a school. At least four people were killed in the attack,” a former deputy district commissioner of Jalalaqsi, Mire Hussein Siyad, said.

Both towns of Jalalaqsi and Bulobarde are important trading and farming towns located along the banks of the Shabelle River, and they also are the second- and third-biggest towns in Hiran province and have been under al-Shabaab “isolation” for more than 10 years.

They have recently been the focal point of efforts to mobilize the local population against al-Shabaab amid an ongoing Somali military campaign to defeat militants following Mohamud’s declaration of a “total war” against the al-Qaida-linked terrorist group after being elected in May last year.

Al-Shabab has threatened violence against clans mobilizing against them in the past.

In October of last year, similar terrorist attacks that targeted bridges in those towns killed at least 21 people.

Metro

Egyptian court sentences terror leader to death, 11 others to life imprisonment over 2017 charges

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A special court in Egypt has sentenced a terrorist to death by hanging, while 11 others bagged life imprisonment, over various terror charges dating back to 2017, authorities say.

The sentences which were handed down on Tuesday by the First Terrorism Circuit at Egypt’s State Security Criminal Court, also saw three suspects getting 15 years imprisonment and three others jailed 10 years on various other charges.

The prosecution had accused the first defendant of assuming the “leadership of a terrorist group from 2015 to 2019, endangering social peace, obstructing government administration, destruction of public property, planning to hijack police vehicles and kill police personnel as well as possessing firearms.”

The state prosecutor also said the others were charged with “joining a terrorist group, attempting to kill officers and police personnel, destroying public property, and possessing firearms.”

The defendants reportedly lived in the popular neighbourhood of Al-Omraniya in Giza Governorate.

Egyptian rights group, Front for Human Rights, while condemning the sentences in a report on Wednesday, said that it had monitored an increase in the issuance of death sentences by civil criminal courts which reached 538 death sentences in 2022, compared to 403 sentences in 2021 and 295 sentences in 2020.

“We have noticed that the Egyptian government uses terror charges against dissidents and opposition figures it wishes to silence, with many sentenced in trials which are not fair and which do not provide them the right to a defence,” the group said.

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Cameroonian media mogul, 27 others arrested for murder of journalist

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At least 28 people including a well known Cameroonian media mogul, Jean-Pierre Amougou Belinga, the owner of Vision 4 TV based in Douala, and several senior police officers have been arrested and detained by authorities in the country in connection with the killing last month of popular broadcast journalist, Martinez Zogo, who was abducted and killed last month.

The mutilated body of the radio host was found on January 22 in Yaounde, five days after he was abducted near a police station after he started a programme where he began exposing official corruption and mentioned names of top government officials.

Media organisations in the Central African country had also reported the murder of a Catholic priest and radio host, Jean Jacques Ola Bebe, who also found dead in the capital after he called for justice for Zogo.

The president of the Cameroon Journalists Trade Union, Marion Obam, told journalists at a press conference in Douala on Tuesday that Cameroonian journalists will wear dark clothes every Wednesday to show they want all suspected killers of journalists arrested and brought to justice.

“On Monday, police arrested and detained seven more people, including media mogul, Jean-Pierre Amougou Belinga, who was arrested at his Yaounde home,” Obam said.

She added that Belinga’s chief of security, a former presidential guard commander, and the head of his Vision 4 TV channel.

Friends of the murdered journalist say Zogo had, on his radio program, accused Belinga of planning to kill him for reporting on his (Belinga’s) alleged corrupt deals with officials.

“Since the killings of Zogo and Bebe, several other journalists in Cameroon say they have received death threats.”

“Nobody would want to be killed. When journalists are moving, they feel that the worst can come to them.

“We even have some families who are already beginning to advise that their children should not engage in journalism because it could invite agony to their lives,” Omba said.

“Many journalists are waiting to see the Cameroonian government bring to book those who have brought this kind of agony to the media in Cameroon,” she said.

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