At least three persons were killed and seven others injured in a suicide car bombing in Somali capital Mogadishu on Wednesday, a government official confirmed.
Ismael Mukhtar Omar, government spokesman, said a suicide bomber, who blew himself up, targeted Blue Sky restaurant in central Mogadishu.
“Three people were killed and seven others injured in suicide bombing outside Blue Sky restaurant,’’ Omar said in a brief statement.
Witnesses said the suicide bomber blew up himself outside the restaurant near the heavily fortified presidential palace in Mogadishu.
The latest explosion came after a security warning of an imminent terror attack in the restive capital.
Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde
Oil rises after OPEC warn members to stick to quotas
Oil prices rose for a fourth day in a row on Friday, putting crude on track for a weekly gain of about 10 per cent, after Saudi Arabia pressed allies to stick to production quotas and banks, including Goldman Sachs, predicted a supply deficit.
Brent crude was up 18 cents at $43.48 a barrel by 0756 GMT while United States oil futures rose 17 cents to $41.14.
Both contracts are set for their strongest weekly gains since early June after Hurricane Sally cut United States production while OPEC and its allies laid out steps to address market weakness.
Goldman Sachs predicted the market would be in a deficit of three million barrels per day (bpd) by the fourth quarter and reiterated its target for Brent to reach $49 by the end of the year and $65 by the third quarter of 2021.
Swiss bank UBS also pointed to the possibility of undersupply in the oil market, forecasting Brent would rise to $45 a barrel in the fourth quarter and $55 by mid-2021.
Meanwhile, a tropical depression in the western part of the Gulf of Mexico could become a hurricane in the next few days, potentially threatening more United States oil facilities.
The Saudi Arabian energy minister said those who gamble on oil prices would be hurt “like hell”.
The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other producers in OPEC+ are cutting 7.7 million bpd of output and the group stressed at a meeting on Thursday that it would take action against members not complying with the deal.
In the Gulf of Mexico, United States offshore drillers and exporters began a clear-up on Thursday after Hurricane Sally weakened to a depression and started rebooting idle rigs following their closure for five days.
Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde
Somali president appoints new prime minister
Somali President Mohamed Farmajo has appointed Mohamed Roble as the country’s new prime minister to replace Ali Khaire, who was impeached by parliament in July.
Farmajo, who made the announcement, directed Roble to form a new government to lead the country through the transition period as Somalia prepares for the 2020/2021 general elections.
The president said he made the appointment of Roble on the basis of his knowledge, experience and ability to take the government initiative, building efforts and the development of national plans.
He directed Roble to make significant efforts to consolidate security gains, rebuild the armed forces and develop infrastructure.
Roble, a graduate of Somali National University in civil engineering, is an international civil servant who worked at the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
In a statement after his appointment, Roble, who once worked at the University of London and lived in New York, said he will cooperate with all Somalis as he leads the delicate transition period.
“It is clear that the country is in a state of transition which requires real compromise and cooperation,” he said in his social media posts.
He expressed the hope that Somalis would support him and become part of the new political arrangement.
The appointment of Roble, a humanitarian, came shortly after a major breakthrough in the talks between Farmajo and five regional state leaders to reach a new agreement on the conduct of the 2020 to 2021 parliamentary and presidential elections.
Analysts describe the appointment of Roble, who appears non-aligned in the Somalia political landscape, as a sign of hope and a major compromise on the process to be followed in electing the incoming federal government of Somalia.
The tenure of the current parliament ends on Dec. 27; the tenure of office of President Farmajo ends on Feb. 7, 2021.
Analysts say holding the 2020 universal vote is critical to entrenching the federal system of governance, which is required to appease communities and regions complaining systematic exclusion and marginaliation for decades.
Edited By: Fatima Sule/Sadiya Hamza
COVID-19 cases cross 5m in India amid medical oxygen shortage
India on Wednesday reported a spike of 90,123 new COVID-19 cases, taking its tally to over five million as hospitals across the country reported a shortage of medical oxygen.
India’s total count of COVID-19 cases stands at 5,020,359, according to the latest Health Ministry bulletin.
The death toll rose to 82,066 after 1,290 deaths were recorded on Tuesday, the highest daily toll so far.
India is the second worst-hit country by the new coronavirus after the United States.
It is third, after the United States and Brazil, in COVID-19 fatalities.
As the country, with a population of 1.3 billion, eased a lockdown to restart economic activity, there has been an explosion in coronavirus cases causing a shortage of medical oxygen across several Indian states, local media reported.
COVID-19 affects the respiratory system of patients.
According to doctors, around 15 per cent of all COVID-19 patients need oxygen.
Major states like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat – hit the hardest by the pandemic – as well as Rajasthan, Telangana and Madhya Pradesh have been directed by the federal government to ensure availability of enough oxygen in healthcare facilities.
Since last week, media reports have said patients have died at hospitals in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra states due to shortage of oxygen, which authorities have denied.
Amit Thadani, Medical Director of Niramaya Hospitals in Kharghar on the outskirts of Mumbai in Maharashtra, said the facility was facing an acute shortage of oxygen.
“We need at least 90 cylinders daily and we are getting only 15,’’ said Thadani, whose hospital has 50 beds for COVID-19 patients.
Thadani said the flow of oxygen was being regulated to last longer and a few critical patients had been shifted to other hospitals.
The demand for medical oxygen and its price had doubled in Karnataka since the pandemic began and doctors have pushed for a cap on oxygen prices to ensure the treatment remains viable, broadcaster NDTV reported.
The oxygen shortages are being seen even though companies have quadrupled production to about 3,000 tons a day from 750 tons a day in the last six months, Saket Tiku, President of the All India Industrial Gases Manufacturers Association, told the CNBC-TV18 channel.
A Federal Health Ministry spokesman said there was no shortage of oxygen for critical COVID-19 patients.
The problem was at the facility level and state governments had been told to encourage all hospitals to carry out efficient inventory management and replenish stocks in time, Rajesh Bhushan, Secretary of the Ministry of Health said at a briefing.
The government has also expedited licences for medical oxygen manufacturers and asked local governments to ease transport restrictions.
Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde
Maduro security forces committed crimes against humanity – UN
Venezuelan security forces and allied groups have committed systematic human rights violations, including killings and torture amounting to crimes against humanity, UN investigators said on Wednesday.
Reasonable grounds existed to believe that President Nicolas Maduro and his Interior and Defence Ministers ordered or contributed to the crimes documented in the report in order to silence opposition, they said.
Most unlawful executions by state agents have not been prosecuted in Venezuela, where the rule of law and democratic institutions have broken down, they added.
The UN fact-finding mission said other national jurisdictions and the International Criminal Court (ICC), which opened a preliminary examination into Venezuela in 2018, should consider prosecutions.
It would share its database containing the names of officers identified by victims.
“The Mission found reasonable grounds to believe that Venezuelan authorities and security forces have, since 2014, planned and executed serious human rights violations.
“Some of the violations – including arbitrary killings and the systematic use of torture – amount to crimes against humanity,’’ Panel Chair, Marta Valinas, said in a statement.
There was no immediate response by Maduro’s leftist government to the report, based on more than 270 interviews with victims, witnesses, former officials and lawyers as well as confidential documents.
“Far from being isolated acts, these crimes were coordinated and committed pursuant to State policies, with the knowledge or direct support of commanding officers and senior government officials,’’ Valinas said.
The panel found that officers in the military, police and intelligence had committed extrajudicial killings.
They included the former head of the National Intelligence Service, Gen. Christopher Figuera, it said.
The panel said it had reasonable grounds to believe the intelligence service falsified or planted evidence on victims and that its agents tortured detainees.
They included opposition lawmaker, Fernando Alban, whom the government said committed suicide in 2018 but whose party said was murdered.
Navy Captain Rafael Acosta was believed to have died of torture in the custody of the military intelligence agency DGCIM last year, the UN experts said.
The panel, set up by the Human Rights Council to investigate violations since 2014, was not granted access to Venezuela.
More than five million people – one sixth of the population – have fled the country’s political, economic and humanitarian crisis.
Jorge Valero, Venezuela’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, told the forum on Tuesday the government was cooperating with the separate office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, notably in facilitating prison visits.
Valero denounced the latest sanctions imposed by the Trump administration which were “causing suffering and death for the Venezuelan people’’.
The United States, along with dozens of other countries, recognises opposition politician, Juan Guaido, as Venezuela’s legitimate interim leader.
The report found that the Venezuelan state apparatus responded with repressive tactics to opposition protests that grew, especially after Maduro was re-elected in 2018 amid an outcry over the results.
“Security forces used lethal force against the victim when it was not strictly unavoidable to protect lives.
“Security forces also used less-lethal weapons in a lethal manner, which resulted in the death of the demonstrators,’’ it said.
Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde