Palestinian Retaliate Israeli Air Strike that Killed 3 and Wounded Others


Hamas strikes back on Israel

Reuters – Palestinian militants fired rockets into southern Israel on Friday, 9 December, in retaliation against the Israeli air strike that killed three Palestinians and wounded several others.

The rocket fire was captured in a video obtained by Reuters, which was released to the foreign news organisations by the Salahudeen Brigades.

The video showed milit

ants on Friday launching rockets into nearby towns in Southern Israel. According to Reuters reports, the militants also released a statement declaring that they would attack Israeli towns close to the Gaza Strip.

The rocket attack is the latest in a string of violence between Israel and Gaza that erupted on Thursday 8 December, when the Israeli air force killed three Palestinians and militants by firing rockets deep across the border. One of the militants killed was from Gaza’s governing Islamist group Hamas, whom Israel accused of planning to send gunmen to attack it through the neighbouring Sinai region of Egypt.

Palestinian militants responded to Thursday’s air strike with a barrage of rockets, some of which landed near Beersheba, a city 35 km (30 miles) from Gaza. No one was hurt. Air-raid sirens summoned residents of southern Israel to shelters.

Another Israeli air strike followed before dawn on Friday, hitting a Hamas training camp in Gaza City. The blast flattened a nearby home, killing its owner and wounding his wife and six of their children, two critically, according to hospital officials.

In a statement voicing regret for the civilian casualties, the military said Palestinian rockets stored next to the camp had stoked the explosion. Hamas accused Israel of a “massacre”.

Palestinian militants stepped up rocket attacks as night fell. Three groups said they had fired more than a dozen projectiles across the border. Israel police said at least ten of them landed in Israeli territory, causing no casualties.

Witnesses in Gaza reported heavy activity of Israeli drones over head.

Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas administration in Gaza, said the group was pursuing “intensive contacts with several Arab and international parties” and wanted immediate cease on the “aggression”.

Hamas spurns peacemaking with the Jewish state but has in the past proposed truces as it sought to consolidate control over Gaza and negotiate power-sharing with the rival, U.S.-backed Fatah faction of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Israeli Air Strike on Gaza Kills Three and Injures More

Photo from - Casualties from the Gaza Airstrike mostly women and children.

A period of reduced tension was brought to an abrupt end begining Thursday between the borders of Israel and Gaza when airstrikes emanating from the Israeli region wounded more than a dozen and killed three people.

The first airstrike which was targeted at a car in a crowded street was claimed by Israel to have been conveying two militants planning attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers.

In response to the Israeli airstrike,a barrage of rockets were fired by Palestinians which headed towards southern Israel.

Hamas training camp was the target of the second airstike by Israel this morning,wounding 13 people mostly women and children, a death was recorded in the attack and some were seriously injured.

73 Killed in a Hospital Fire in India

A seven-storey hospital building in the city of Kolkata located in the eastern part of India was engulfed by fire claiming at least 73 people.

Most the dead people were patients of the hospital, a senior hospital official said.

The fire was brought under control late this morning by rescue workers and evacuation of bodies from the building started immediately, amongst those confirmd dead were two children seen taken out by eyewitnesses.

Patients who survived the fire were rolled out on stretchers and distraught relatives waiting outside the hospital as a thick layer of smoke covered the hospital building.

Of the 73 people dead only three were not patients of the hospital and 90 patients were safely evacuated.

Authorities believe the fire started in the basement, where flammable materials such as oxygen cylinders were stored.

Two dozen fire trucks were sent to douse the blaze and evacuate the building but it took the rescue workers time to bring the fire under control.

Nigeria’s Foreign Reserves Falls to Four-Week Low

LAGOS Dec 8 (Reuters) – Nigeria’s foreign reserves stood at $32.99 billion at December 2, its lowest since Nov. 9, as the central bank struggles to sustain stability in the domestic foreign exchange market, the central bank data showed on Thursday.

The forex reserves of Africa’s top energy producer were at $32.96 billion a year ago, but remain under pressure from strong domestic demand for the dollar and low accretion from oil revenue.

The central bank moved its target trading band for the naira last month to +/-3 percent around 155 naira, from +/-3 percent around 150 due to prolonged strong demand on available dollar which gradually eaten deep into its reserves.

Nigeria Naira Falls Vs. Dollar to its Weakest in 9 Weeks

LAGOS Dec 8 (Reuters) – The Nigerian naira eased against the U.S dollar on Thursday to its weakest in nine weeks as robust demand for the greenback from some end-users stocking up for Christmas sales and those excluded from the official window overstretched supply.

The local currency was trading at 162.45 to the dollar on the interbank market, weaker than 161.70 to the dollar compared to Wednesday’s close.

“Dollar inflow has thinned out in the market, while a number of people are covering their short positions, putting pressure on the available dollars,” one dealer said.

Traders said the local unit of Chevron oil is selling about $35 million to some banks later in the day, while fellow oil company Agip is also selling $27 million, but that may not be sufficient to reduce pressure in the market.

At the official window on Wednesday, the central bank sold only $200 million at 156.70 to the dollar, short of the $245 million demanded but in line with the $200 million sold at 156.50 per dollar on Monday.

Traders said the low demand at the auction was not a true reflection of real demand for foreign exchange in the market as central bank officials continue to advise banks on the amount of dollars to be demanded and rates to reduce pressure on the bi-weekly auction.

The central bank moved its target trading band for the naira last month to +/-3 percent around 155 naira, from +/-3 percent around 150 due to prolonged naira weakness and high dollar demand.

“There is strong demand in the market and as long as the central bank fails to meet this demand, the naira will continue to depreciate in the near term,” another dealer said.

Finance Minister Briefs House on Economic Agenda

Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Finance Minister

Minister of finance and coordinating minister of the economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala says reducing the country’s recurrent expenditure and developing its infrastructre is a major focus of the nation’s economic agenda.

The minister gave this outline when she appeared before the House of Representatives’ Committee on Finance.

Okonjo-Iweala also said the executive will ensure that revenues accruing to the Federal Government are not diverted.

Chairman of the Committee, Representative Abdulmumini Jibril, tasked the minister to work on ensuring that government agencies remit what they should to government coffers.

Boko Haram: Suspect in Suleja Bombings Denies Witness Statement

A suspect alleged to have participated in the 8 April bombing of the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), as well as the bombing at a political rally on 3 March in Suleja, has told a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has denied making the statement which the State Security Service seeks to use against him as evidence.

At the court ordered trial, Salisu Ahmed, one of the six suspects charged with allegedly participating in the Suleja bombings, told the court that he had been coerced by the SSS into signing an already-written statement, which he knew nothing about.

Ahmed, who spoke in Hausa and was translated, said he was taken to the third floor of the SSS office, and there a statement was brought before him which he was made to sign under duress.

In the main trial, a witness, Al Hassan Iliyasu, an SSS investigator, told the court that he had obtained two statements each from Musa Adamu, Salisu Ahmed and Umar Ibrahim. Iliyasu said though the written statements were in the English language, it had been interpreted in Hausa language and the SSS had ensured the suspects understood the contents of the statements.

Speaking through his counsel, Nuraini Suleiman, Ahmed had denied making the statement dated 9 August 2011. He also told the court that he was made to sign the additional statement dated 6 October 2011 under duress.

Witness Iliyasu said Ahmed had, in one of the statements, narrated his involvement with the Boko Haram sect and had confessed to trying to escape from SSS custody. Ahmed countered that claim, however, and said that even though he had told investigators that he could not read or write English, his objections had been overlooked.

Meanwhile, the case of the five policemen alleged to have participated in the extrajudicial killing of Boko Haram sect leader Mohammed Yusuf and his followers during the July 2009 Maiduguri crisis, has been adjourned till 13 and 14 February for continuation of the hearing.

Over 2,500 PDP Members in Edo State Defect to ACN

Governor Oshiomhole of Edo State

Over 2,500 People’s Democratic Party (PDP) members in Oredo and Orhiomwon Local Government Areas in Edo State have defected to the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) at a mega rally held in Benin City, the state capital.

The defectors who are allegedly strong supporters of a PDP gubernatorial aspirant in the state, Maj-Gen Charles Airhiavbere attributed their action to the lack of vision of the Peoples Democratic Party in the state.

Among the defectors were former local Government Chairman, PDP Ward Chairmen, House of Assembly Aspirants, former house of Reps Aspirants and their members from Oredo and over a 1,500 PDP members and their leaders from Igbanke where the governor recently flagged of a inter city road project.

Receiving them, Comrade Oshiomhole said their decision was a further impetus to re-invigorate the wheel of governance in the state. He also reminded the people of the need to judge the parties on the basis of their performance.

The Governor who responded to comments by some PDP leaders and gubernatorial aspirants said the best way to punish them is to do for the people what they failed to for them the past ten years.

Recall that Charles Ehigie Arhiavbere, Kenneth Imasuagbon and former Edo State Governor Senator Osariemen Osunbor have declared their intention to contest for the Edo Gubernatorial race on the platform of the PDP.

Bauchi State Police Command Investigates Recent Bombings and Robbery Attacks

File Photo - Nigerian Police

The Bauchi State Police Command has intensified investigations into the invasion of the police area command headquarters and the bank robberies in Azare in recent days.

According to Bauchi State police commissioner, Ikechukwu Aduba, the attacks which occured in Katagum LGA cost the city property and banks millions of naira.

In a press statement, Aduba said facts available to investigators indicate that some corrupt bank officials might be connected to the robberies.

Upon investigations into a New Generation Bank, robbed of N7.3 million, police reported that the bank vault had been intact and undamaged by explosives.

Detectives who had arrived on the scene shortly after the attacks, also reported that there had been no signs of a forced entry.

Both the operational manager and accountant of the bank, caretakers of the vault, explained that on 3 December 2011, both officials received an anonymous call from a customer having problems with his ATM card.

The bank officials said they went to the aid of the distressed customer when they were held up at gunpoint. They were then forced to open the vaults and the money then stolen from it.

Investigations into the other bank robbery where over N25 million was reportedly stolen was dismissed by the Police Anti-bomb Squad.

The Explosive Ordinance Disposal experts on the scene said that the damage and after effect of the explosion revealed that bombs must have been planted within the bank halls. For that to be done, the experts say, the bombs were planted well in advance and programmed to detonate at a particular time.

The police commissioer says that all the suspects as well as the fumigation company employed to disinfect the bank will be charged to court.

Alpha Ebune, Dino Melaye debate Kogi state election outcome

Special assistant to the Kogi State governor, Alpha Ebune and Dino Melaye joined the Sunrise team to discuss the outcome of the last Kogi State elections. Ebune, speaking for incumbent governor Ibrahim Idris of the ruling party, PDP, dismissed claims by the opposition party, Action Congress of Nigeria that the state’s elections had been tainted.

Ebune made claims that the elections held in the central Nigerian state had been one of the fairest in the country. Countering his point, Dino Melaye reprsenting the ACN, praised the ideology of his party.

“Check all the ACN states, and you will find an automatic rejuvenation from the past,” Melaye said, adding that since the PDP had nothing to show for Kogi State, the people could not have voted in the PDP in all fairness.


New Clashes Erupt in Mogadishu

Fighters in Mogadishu, Somali Capital

The government of Somalia is suffering from a major setback as Mogadishu the country’s capital is witnessing one of the fiercest fighting ever recorded in the city.

The clashes began shortly after dawn between Islamist al-Shabab militants and government forces, backed by African Union (AU) troops.

The AU forces are reported to have used tanks and heavy artillery. The government had declared that it had taken control of the city after Al-Shabab withdrew their forces in August.

Reports of casualties are yet to be disclosed as the fighting continues to occur in the northern district of Karan and Huriwa on Thursday December 8, 2011. Al-Shabab attacked a camp run by the military in Wadajir to the south of Mogadishu on Wednesday.

That area had previously been considered relatively safe. Since the Islamists made their “tactical withdrawal” from Mogadishu, there have been several suicide attacks in the city.

The most recent happened on Tuesday in the Hodan district – at least five people were killed. Earlier this week al-Shabab announced that it was changing its name to Imaarah Islamiya.

NATO Allies Reassure Russia Over Missile Defence Shield

Photo by Center for Defence Studies

NATO Foreign Ministers hoped to convince Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov of agreeing on a deal on NATO’s missile defence shield during their meeting in Brussels on Thursday.

Progress on the issue has been much slower than expected with a rise in anti-NATO rhetoric from Moscow in recent months.

Recently, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned the alliance Russia would take counter-measures if Washington was to continue with the plan. Despite the threat, NATO members were hopeful they will be able to bridge their differences and have Russia co-operating in the plan.

“Well of course we all saw President Medvedev’s speech on the 23rd of November on the subject. That was disappointing for NATO. But as I said the offer remains on the table. We will be able to discuss these issues today and we will continue discussing them in a patient and calm way,” said British Foreign Secretary William Hague as he arrived for the meeting.

NATO wants to set up an anti-ballistic missile shield to defend Europe against potential threats from rogue states such as Iran, but Moscow says the shield directed at Russia. Last month Medvedev said he would arm Russia with missiles capable of countering the shield and set up an early-warning radar system in its Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad bordering NATO territory in a bid to press the United States to back down in the dispute.

“It shows that the all debate about the missile defence deal suffered from a birth defect. Russia was too little involved at the beginning. This birth defect has now been corrected, thanks God… has been corrected, thanks God. And now that it is clear that Russia is being invited to take part in the system, the system is not being built against Russia, we need to do more and more to convince our Russian partners about that,” said German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on arrival.

Since NATO approved the U.S.-designed system at last year’s summit, Poland, Spain, Turkey and Romania have agreed to deploy some of its components.

Negotiations stalled after NATO refused to give Russia binding guarantees that the system would never be used to undermine or counter its defences.

NATO General Secretary Anders Fogh Rasmussen has rebuffed Russia’s threat of taking counter measures, saying they are from a by-gone area and show a fundamental misunderstanding. He hopes to convince Russia to co-operate on the matter.

“Today over 30 states have or are developing missile technology. Some of these missiles can already reach part of alliance’s territory. That is why NATO has taken a decision to build its own system. This system does not threaten Russia nor does it alter the strategic balance. Russian territory is also at risk and as we face the same threat it makes sense to cooperate in defending against it. We will continue our dialogue on this issue this morning and in the coming months. Ladies and gentlemen, a NATO-Russia strategic partnership is not a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have for NATO and Russia,” Rasmussen said.