At least 15 people were killed on Tuesday when heavily armed al-Shabaab militants stormed government offices and military checkpoints around the strategic town of Bal’ad.
The dawn attack prompted heavy gunfire between Somali security forces and the militants in the town, which lies just 30 kilometres north of the capital Mogadishu, said Somali government spokesman Ismael Mukhtar Omar.
“The terrorists tried to take the town completely but paid heavy prices as our security forces in the town overpowered them killing 14 militants on the spot.
“The situation in the town of Bal’ad is calm now. We lost one soldier while seven more civilians were wounded by stray bullets,” he told dpa.
In a statement, al-Shabaab claimed to have completely overrun the town briefly, saying their fighters killed dozens of government soldiers.
“The fighting flared up after militants armed with RPGs and machine-guns attacked the town,” local elder Warsame Muhyadiin told dpa.
The militants targeted local government offices including the police station and central prison in the town according to residents.
The attack comes barely a day after the militants carried out a suicide car bombing at a military base in the town of Janaay Abdalle, killing two Somali soldiers and wounding several others including a United States serviceman.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim
China not interested in ‘hot or cold war’ — Jinping
President Xi Jinping of China on Tuesday told the United Nations General Assembly that he had no intention to engage any country in “a cold or hot war”.
Jinping’s remark came amid rising tensions between China and the U,S., whose president, Donald Trump, attacked Beijing in his speech earlier.
“We will continue to narrow differences and resolve disputes with others through dialogue and negotiation.
“We will not seek to develop only ourselves or engage in zero sum game,” Jinping said in his pre-recorded video address to the virtual gathering of world leaders.
UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres had earlier in the day, warned against a “new Cold War” between China and the United States, saying the face-off between the two countries was moving the world in “a very dangerous direction”.
“Our world cannot afford a future where the two largest economies split the globe in a great fracture, each with its own trade and financial rules and internet and artificial intelligence capacities.
“A technological and economic divide risks inevitably turning into a geo-strategic and military divide. We must avoid this at all costs,” he said.
Relations between the United States and China – both nuclear-armed countries and veto power holders in the UN Security Council – have deteriorated since 2019.
The Trump administration is accusing China of unfair trade practices, intellectual property theft, and cyber espionage – all of which Beijing has denied.
The situation had triggered a series of economic sanctions including visa restrictions and expulsions by Washington targeting Chinese government officials, companies, diplomats, and students.
China had retaliated in some cases, including the closure of the American consulate.
In his statement earlier at the Assembly, Trump in his characteristic forthrightness, put China on the spot over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the environment.
“We must hold accountable the nation which unleashed this plague onto the world: China,” Trump said.
He accused China of dumping “millions and millions of tons of plastic and trash into the oceans and overfishing other countries’ waters”.
“China’s carbon emissions are nearly twice what the United States has, and it’s rising fast.
“Those, who attack America’s exceptional environmental record while ignoring China’s rampant pollution are not interested in the environment.
“They only want to punish America and I will not stand for it,” he said.
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Emmanuel Yashim
I am not under US surveillance — Atiku
Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has denied a report that the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), an agency of the United States Department of Treasury, placed him and his family members under close watch over alleged financial fraud.
Abubakar, Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2019 general elections, gave the clarification in a statement issued by his Media Aide, Paul Ibe, in Abuja on Tuesday.
Ibe said his principal’s attention had been drawn to recycled and regurgitated lies about the person of Abubakar.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Atiku Abubakar is not under any United States watch list, neither has he been charged, or will ever be charged by the US Justice Department or any other in a foreign jurisdiction.
“It will be recalled that these recycled lies were re-unearthed just before the Feb. 23, 2019 Presidential election, and to put paid to it, Abubakar applied for and received a United States visa, whereupon he embarked on a visit to the US on Jan. 17, 2019.
“He stayed at a hotel just miles to the United States Department of Justice.
“Abubakar in the course of that trip was also received in audience by officials of the United States Government,” Ibe said.
He said that the new reports were a desperate gambit to recast these discredited accusations.
“They are meant to divert the attention of Nigerians from the recent statement by the Secretary of State of the United States, Mr Mike Pompeo, announcing visa and travel bans for certain unnamed but notorious individuals.
“Moreover, the timing of this report, less than 24 hours after the Edo state gubernatorial elections, should give some thought to thinking people.
“And considering the season that we are in, more of such jaundiced stories seeking to discredit Abubakar would come.”
Ibe reiterated that Abubakar and every member of his family kept a clean business portfolio that had nothing to do with government resources and in conformity with local and foreign laws of respective countries.
Edited By: Abiemwense Moru/Wale Ojetimi
United States, China clash over COVID-19 at UNGA
The United States and China on Tuesday clashed over the coronavirus pandemic during the General Debate of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
United States President Donald Trump, who fired the first shot in his pre-recorded video message, referred to the coronavirus as “China virus”, a term that angers Beijing.
“We must hold accountable the nation which unleashed this plague onto the world: China.
“In the earliest days of the virus, China locked down travel domestically while allowing flights to leave China and infect the world.
“China condemned my travel ban on their country, even as they cancelled domestic flights and locked citizens in their homes,” he said.
Trump reiterated his allegation that China and the World Health Organisation (WHO), “which is virtually controlled by China”, deliberately misled the world on the mode of transmission of the virus.
He accused them of “falsely declaring that there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission”.
“Later, they falsely said people without symptoms would not spread the disease.
“The United Nations must hold China accountable for their actions,” he said.
Chinese ambassador to the UN, Amb. Zhang Jun, responded to Trump’s accusations before introducing his country’s president, Xi Jingping, who was the fourth leader to speak.
Jun said China would not be cowed by United States “bully tactics”, accusing Trump of using the global stage to spread his “political virus”.
“We strongly and totally reject the baseless accusation against China.
“No matter what others say, we support multilateralism and the UN to play its central role in international affairs,” he said.
The exchanges came shortly after UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had, in his address, expressed concern over the escalating tensions between north countries.
Warning against a “new Cold War” between the United States and China, Guterres said the bad blood was moving the world in “a very dangerous direction”.
“Our world cannot afford a future where the two largest economies split the globe in a Great Fracture, each with its own trade and financial rules and internet and artificial intelligence capacities.
“A technological and economic divide risks inevitably turning into a geo-strategic and military divide.
“We must avoid this at all costs,” he said.
Although, the Chinese president did not address the United States directly in his speech, he said the world “must” reject unilateral actions and work together to defrost the virus.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim
Trump says UN must focus on ‘Real Problems’ including terrorism, ethnic cleansing
United States President Donald Trump on Tuesday said the world body must focus on addressing global issues such as terrorism, ethnic cleansing of minority religious groups, trafficking and other problems.
President Trump said in his speech to the UN General Assembly in Washington.
“If the UN is to be an effective organisation it must focus on the real problems of the world,” Trump said during remarks at the White House.
“This includes terrorism, the oppression of women, forced labour, drug trafficking, human and sex trafficking, religious persecution, and the ethnic cleansing of religious minorities.”
Trump also used his UN General Assembly address to call attention to China.
The United States president called on the UN to hold China accountable for failing to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus in the international community.
Trump also said the international community should be prioritising their national interests rather than focusing on pursuing global ambitions.
Moreover, Trump said the United States now had weapons that it had never thought it would have them.
Edited By: Fatima Sule/Sadiya Hamza