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Twin Bomb Blasts Kill 100 In Somalia

Twin car bomb explosions near a busy junction in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, killed at least 100 people, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud says.

Among the victims “who were massacred [were] mothers with their children in their arms”,  the president was quoted as saying.

He appealed for international medical help to deal with the 300 injured.

The president blamed the al-Shabab militant group for Saturday’s attack which targeted the education ministry.

The pro-jihadist Somali Memo website has reported that the group has said it was behind the blasts.

An affiliate of al-Qaeda, al-Shabab has engaged in a long-running conflict with the federal Somali government.

President Mohamud, in power for five months pledged “total war” against the Islamist militants after they attacked a popular hotel in Mogadishu in August killing at least 21 people.

Saturday’s blasts happened within minutes of each other, destroying buildings and vehicles in the vicinity.

The plumes of smoke arising from the blasts could be seen across the city.

Reuters reported that the first hit the education ministry and then the second went off as medical teams arrived to deal with the aftermath.

A lorry exploded at the same junction almost exactly five years ago, leaving more than 500 people dead – the worst such attack in the country’s history.

After Saturday’s attack, hundreds of people have gathered near the site, looking for missing family members.

Among those killed were a prominent journalist and senior police officer.

“I am here to tell the Somali people that such October attacks will not happen again, God willing,” President Mohamud said after visiting the scene of the attack.

“The bombings were a message sent by the militants to show that they are still alive, despite the fact that they were defeated in battlefield by government forces,” he added.

The African Union (AU) mission in Somalia said that the “attacks underline the urgency and critical importance of the ongoing military offensive to further degrade al-Shabab”.

The US, Turkey, Qatar and Germany have all condemned the attack.

Al-Shabab has been battling the AU-backed federal government for control of Somalia for around 15 years.

The group controls much of southern and central Somalia, but has also been able to extend its influence into areas controlled by the government based in Mogadishu.

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International

Guatemalan Leader, Deputy Jailed For Fraud

A Guatemalan court on Wednesday sentenced former President Otto Perez to 16 years in prison, finding him guilty of leading a massive customs fraud scheme while in office.

Perez, who was forced to resign in 2015, was found guilty of racketeering and fraud targeting the customs system, Judge Irma Valdes said as she read out the sentence.

Perez was sentenced to eight years on each count.

His former vice president Roxana Baldetti received the same sentence.

A United Nations-backed anti-corruption body revealed several scandals in Guatemala before it was shut down in 2019 by then-President Jimmy Morales after it began investigating him.

One of its key successes was uncovering a multimillion-dollar scheme to cheat Guatemala’s customs duty system, which ultimately led to Perez’s resignation.

Those involved in the scheme – known as “La Linea” (The Line) – received bribes of some $3.5 million, according to investigators, who estimate that Guatemala was defrauded out of almost $10 million in tax revenue.

After the sentence was handed down Perez, 72, told reporters, “I truly feel frustrated, I feel disappointed.”

He said he would appeal the ruling.

Sixteen other people involved in the scam were convicted during the sentencing and 11 others were acquitted.

“The ‘La Linea’ case is one of the most symbolic and is a milestone in Guatemalan history,” director of Transparency International’s local chapter, Citizen Action, Edie Cux, told AFP.

“It is important that in some way the people of Guatemala have justice and that the case does not go unpunished,” she added.

(AFP)

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International

Trump Organization Convicted Of Tax Fraud

Donald Trump’s real estate company was convicted on Tuesday of carrying out a 15-year-long criminal scheme to defraud tax authorities, adding to the legal woes facing the former U.S. president as he campaigns for the office again in 2024.

The Trump Organization – which operates hotels, golf courses, and other real estate around the world – was found guilty of paying personal expenses for top executives including former chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, and issuing bonus checks to them as if they were independent contractors.

The company faces up to $1.6 million in fines after being convicted on all charges, including scheming to defraud tax authorities, conspiracy and falsifying business records. Trump was not charged in the case.

Justice Juan Merchan, who presided over the trial in state court in New York, set a sentencing date for Jan. 13.

While the fine is not expected to be material for a company of the Trump Organization’s size, the conviction could complicate its ability to do business.

Weisselberg, 75, testified as the government’s star witness as part of a plea deal that calls for a sentence of five months in jail.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, whose office prosecuted the case, called the verdict “very just.”

“The former president’s companies now stand convicted of crimes,” Bragg said in the New York courthouse after the verdict, speaking of the Trump Corporation and Trump Payroll Corporation, the two units of the Trump Organization which were convicted.

Asked if he regretted not charging Trump in the case, Bragg did not respond.

He has said that the office’s investigation into Trump is continuing.

(Reuters)

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International

Forbes says Elon Musk Is No Longer World’s Richest Man

Twitter owner and Tesla (TSLA.O) boss Elon Musk briefly lost his title as the world’s richest person on Wednesday, according to Forbes, following a steep drop in the value of his stake in the electric-car maker and a $44 billion bet on the social media firm.

Bernard Arnault, the chief executive of luxury brand Louis Vuitton’s parent company LVMH (LVMH.PA), and his family briefly took the title as the world’s richest, but were back at No. 2 with a personal wealth of $185.3 billion, according to Forbes.

Musk, who has held the top spot on the Forbes list since September 2021, has a net worth of $185.7 billion. Musk took over the title from Amazon.com (AMZN.O) founder Jeff Bezos.

Tesla shares, which have lost more than 47% in value since Musk made his offer to buy Twitter earlier this year, were down 2.7%.

Musk’s net worth dropped below $200 billion earlier on Nov. 8 as investors dumped Tesla’s shares on worries the top executive and largest shareholder of the world’s most valuable electric-vehicle maker is more preoccupied with Twitter.

Tesla has lost nearly half its market value and Musk’s net worth has dropped by about $70 billion since he bid for Twitter in April. Musk closed the deal for Twitter in October with $13 billion in loans and a $33.5 billion equity commitment.

Besides Tesla, Musk also heads rocket company SpaceX and Neuralink, a startup that is developing ultra-high bandwidth brain-machine interfaces to connect the human brain to computers.

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