At least 15 people were wounded in two separate explosions targeting bus stations in Jerusalem Wednesday, security and medical officials said, with Israel’s public security minister calling them “attacks.”
An explosion at a bus station at the western exit from Jerusalem wounded 12 people, two of them critically. A separate blast at another station a short distance away damaged a bus and wounded three people, the hospitals treating the casualties said.
The twin explosions struck half an hour apart, police said, noting sappers were at the scene with other forces “collecting evidence and scanning the area for suspects.”
The death toll from a devastating 30-hour siege by Al-Shabaab jihadists at a hotel in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu has climbed to 21, Health Minister Ali Haji Adan said Sunday, as anxious citizens awaited news of missing relatives.
Emergency workers have been trying to clear the debris of a gun and bomb attack by the Al-Qaeda-linked group on the popular Hayat hotel which left parts of the building in ruins, with many feared trapped inside.
“The ministry of health has so far confirmed the deaths of 21 people and 117 people wounded” in the assault that began on Friday evening and lasted over a day, Adan said.
On Sunday morning, the area surrounding the hotel was under tight security, with the roads blocked as emergency workers and bomb disposal experts sought to clear any explosives and remove rubble.
The hotel sustained heavy damage during the gunfight between Somali forces and the insurgents.
Parts of the building collapsed, leaving many people frantically searching for their loved ones who were inside when the attack began.
Police commissioner Abdi Hassan Mohamed Hijar told reporters on Sunday that “106 people including children and women” were rescued during the siege which ended around midnight.
As bullets and flames ripped through the hotel, security forces searched the property to bring civilians to safety, including three young children who hid inside a toilet.
“The casualties mostly happened in the early hours of the attack, after that security forces spent time rescuing people individually and room by room,” Hijar said.
The attack was the biggest in Mogadishu since Somalia’s new President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud took office in June and underscored the challenge of trying to crush the 15-year insurrection by the Islamist group.
Dozens of people gathered near the road leading up to the hotel on Sunday morning, desperate for news of their family members.
Businessman Muktar Adan told AFP he was waiting for permission to enter the premises and look for his sibling.
“My brother was inside the hotel the last time we heard from him, but his phone is switched off now and we don’t know what to expect,” he said.
Said Nurow, who heard the attack unfold, said he was very worried about his friend who was a guest at the property.
“I hope… (he) is alive, he stayed in the hotel according to the last information we got from his sister,” he told AFP, describing the mood as “tense”.
The hotel was a favoured meeting spot for government officials and scores of people were inside when gunmen stormed the property.
Somalia’s allies, including the United States, Britain, and Turkey, as well as the UN, have strongly condemned the attack. So did ATMIS, the African Union force tasked with helping Somali forces take over primary responsibility for security by the end of 2024.
Earlier this month, Washington announced its forces had killed 13 Al-Shabaab operatives in an air strike, the latest since President Joe Biden ordered the re-establishment of a US troop presence in Somalia, reversing a decision by his predecessor Donald Trump.
Samira Gaid, executive director of the Hiraal Institute, a Mogadishu-based security think tank, told AFP that the “audacious attack” was a message to the new government and its foreign allies.
“The complex attack is to show that they are still very much present, very relevant and that they can penetrate government security and conduct such attacks,” she said.
Mohamud said last month that ending the jihadist insurrection required more than a military approach, but that his government would negotiate with the group only when the time was right.
According to Gaid, the president later told officials that the government’s “first objective is to fight the group militarily and weaken then before they can go into any negotiations.”
“This attack will trigger a faster strategy and response especially when it comes to engaging the group,” she said.
According to police, the attack began with a blast caused by a suicide bomber who forced his way into the hotel along with gunmen.
Minutes later, a second explosion struck as rescuers, security forces and civilians rushed to help the injured, witnesses said.
Al-Shabaab, which claimed responsibility for the hotel siege, has carried out several attacks in Somalia since Mohamud took office, and last month launched strikes on the Ethiopian border.
The militants were driven out of Mogadishu in 2011, but still, control swathes of countryside and retain the ability to launch deadly strikes, often targeting hotels and restaurants.
The deadliest attack occurred in October 2017 when a truck packed with explosives blew up in Mogadishu, killing 512 people.
Troops of 13 Brigade operating under command of 82 Division, Nigerian Army on Tuesday 21 June 2022, intercepted a Toyota Camry car with registration number JAL 492 AA, loaded with assorted munition while enroute Utanga village towards Obudu Mountains in Cross River State.
The security operatives deployed at Forward Operating Base Amana attempted to stop the vehicle at their checkpoint but the driver evaded the checking and zoomed off. The drivers recalcitrance compelled the troops to open fire on the tyres of the vehicle, thereby immobilizing it.
A thorough search conducted on the vehicle revealed it was conveying 72 Improvised Explosive Device chargers, 121 Dynamite Liquid, 200 rounds of 7.62 mm (NATO) and 82 rounds of 7.62 mm (Special) ammunition.
Other items recovered in the intercepted vehicle are military uniforms and kits.
The army through its spokesman, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, urged members of the public to continue to support troops with credible information that will lead to stemming the tide of insecurity across the country.
Suspected terrorists are said to have attacked St Francis Catholic Church in Owo, the headquarters of Owo Local Government Area of Ondo State.
Emerging reports suggest that many worshippers have died and several others have been left injured following the incident at the church which is situated close to the palace of the Olowo of Owo.
The Ondo Police Command Funmilayo Odulami confirmed the development but said further details would be given later. He said all security apparatus has been put in place to restore calmness to the area.
Several videos on social media showed victims being killed and lying on the church floor in the pool of their own blood.
An eyewitness Ogueze Victor told Channels Television that the assailants were throwing “bombs and shooting” at the same time.
He said about 25 persons were taken to the hospital while about 100 people are feared dead.
According to him, when the gunmen stormed the church, they shot many people in the leg, and others at different parts of the body.
Meanwhile, the Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, has expressed deep sadness over what he calls an unprovoked attack and killing of innocent people of Owo, worshiping at the St Francis Catholic Church, Owa-luwa Street.
In his reaction to the tragic event, Governor Akeredolu said the vile and satanic attack is a calculated assault on the peace-loving people of Owo Kingdom who have enjoyed relative peace over the years.
“It is a black Sunday in Owo. Our hearts are heavy. Our peace and tranquility have been attacked by the enemies of the people. This is a personal loss, an attack on our dear state.
“I have spoken to the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Ondo, Most Reverend Jude Arogundade, who is presently on his way to Owo. Similarly, I have had to cut short my party’s national assignment in Abuja and visit Owo immediately.
“This is an unexpected development. I am shocked, to say the least. Nevertheless, We shall commit every available resource to hunt down these assailants and make them pay. We shall never bow to the machinations of heartless elements in our resolves to rid our state of criminals.
“I commiserate with my people in Owo, particularly families of the those who lost their lives to this ugly and unfortunate attack. I extend my condolences to Olowo of Owo, Oba Gbadegesin Ogunoye as well as the Catholic Church,” Akeredolu stated.
The governor urged the people to remain calm and vigilant. Do not take laws into your hands, adding that he has spoken to the heads of the security agencies.
Akeredolu further stated that he has equally been assured that security operatives would be deployed to monitor and restore normalcy to Owo kingdom.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday received the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the State House in Abuja.
He was received by top government officials. Buhari’s conversation with Guterres centred on the need to ensure peaceful and democratic elections as well as the robust participation of women and young people in all areas.
He also thanked the UN boss for the visit, stressing that it came at a time when the world is focussing on the Russia/Ukraine crisis. Buhari also believes that the visit underscores the assurance that the world is with Nigeria.
On his part, the UN scribe called for developed nations to ramp up vaccine support to countries in the global north, halt the asymmetrical distribution and reform the global financial system.
Earlier in the day, he visited the UN House in Abuja alongside some top officials and diplomats of the agency.
Guterres is on a two-day official visit to Nigeria – the first of such.
The UN chief had arrived in Nigeria on Tuesday and also visited Borno State where he proposed the reintegration of repentant terrorists. This, he said, is key to the restoration of peace in the North East region.
“The best thing we can do for peace is to reintegrate those, that in a moment of despair, became terrorists but want to become now citizens and to contribute to the well-being of their brothers and sisters,” he told a gathering at an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp.
The UN scribe is also expected to perform the wreath-laying ceremony in honour of the August 26, 2011, suicide bomb attack victims.
Five people were killed and over a dozen injured in a car bombing near a school in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu on Thursday, a security official said, in the latest attack to hit the troubled country.
“There was a car bomb blast… the death of five people was confirmed and 15 others were wounded”, security official Mohamed Abdillahi told AFP, adding that 11 students were among the injured victims.
“We don’t know the target of the attack… (but) there was a private security escort vehicle passing by the area,” he added.
The director of Mogadishu’s Aamin ambulance service, Abdikadir Abdirahman, shared photos of the rubble-strewn scene on Twitter, calling the bombing “a tragedy”.
There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the blast, but the jihadist Al-Shabaab group has claimed other bombings in Mogadishu, including a deadly attack on Saturday that killed a prominent Somali journalist.
Abdiaziz Mohamud Guled, the director of government-owned Radio Mogadishu, was a fierce critic of the Al-Qaeda-linked militants.
Al-Shabaab, which has been waging a violent insurgency against the country’s fragile government since 2007, claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing in a statement, saying its fighters had long pursued the journalist.
Al-Shabaab controlled the capital until 2011 when it was pushed out by African Union troops, but it still holds territory in the countryside and launches frequent attacks against government and civilian targets in Mogadishu and elsewhere.
A homemade bomb thrown through the roof of a university lecture hall wounded 11 students on Wednesday, the vice-chancellor said, in an English-speaking region of Cameroon in the grip of a bloody separatist conflict.
University of Buea vice-chancellor Horace Ngomo Manga that “the device fell to the ground and exploded”.
One boy and 10 girls were wounded, he told state radio CRTV, adding that all were in a stable condition.
He did not elaborate on the nature of the bomb or who might have thrown it.
Buea is the capital of Cameroon’s Southwest region. Both the Southwest and Northwest regions are mainly English-speaking in the otherwise predominantly French-speaking central African country.
A decades-long campaign by militants to redress perceived discrimination at the hands of the francophone majority flared into a declaration of independence on October 1, 2017, sparking a crackdown by security forces.
The conflict has claimed more than 3,500 lives and forced 700,000 people to flee their homes, according to NGO estimates that have not been updated in more than a year despite an escalation in violence in recent months.
The United Nations and international organisations regularly denounce abuses and crimes committed against civilians by both sides.
Wednesday’s bombing has not been claimed, but the anglophone separatists have regularly attacked schools and universities which they accuse of favouring French-language education.
The separatists have also recently ramped up attacks on the country’s armed forces using improvised explosive devices.
In September, a Buea court sentenced four men to death over the killing of seven schoolchildren a year before, however Human Rights Watch called the trial a “sham”.
Dutch and German police have busted a criminal gang who made video tutorials on how to bomb cash machines, only to blow themselves up in the process, officials said Thursday.
One suspect was killed and another badly hurt in the Dutch city of Utrecht when a trial run went wrong at an illegal “training centre” for explosives attacks on ATMs, the EU’s police agency Europol said.
Police eventually made nine arrests during an 18-month operation targeting the gang, which is linked to at least 15 bombings on ATMs in Germany resulting in losses of 2.15 million euros ($2.5 million), it said.
“The criminals were making video tutorials which were given in person to other criminals,” a Europol spokeswoman told AFP.
“The main suspect — a 29-year-old — blew himself up when filming a tutorial video. His accomplice — a 24-year-old — was seriously injured and taken into custody,” she said.
The police hunt began after officers in Osnabruck, Germany, identified “suspicious orders” of ATM machines from a German company, said Europol and its sister judicial agency Eurojust in a joint statement.
Surveillance led police across the border to Utrecht in the Netherlands where the 29- and 24-year-old suspects were allegedly running the training centre.
“The pair was ordering different models of ATMs and recording tutorials on how to most effectively blow them up,” the EU agencies said.
“The cash machines were blown open using homemade explosive devices, posing a serious risk for residents and bystanders,” they added.
The two men were blown up “during one of the test runs of an explosion.”
Dutch police aided by Europol arrested three people during raids in the area around Utrecht, Amsterdam and The Hague on Tuesday, during which seven properties were also searched.
Those three suspects will be extradited to Germany. The other six people were arrested in the Netherlands during the past year.
Europol said that bomb attacks against ATMs were a “growing concern” in Europe.
The police reaction comes amid reports that a suicide bomber was blown to pieces after a suicide vest he was wearing exploded on his body.
The incident was said to have happened in Afikpo town of Afikpo North Local Government Area of the state with sources saying the incident happened around 12 noon.
Resident scampered for safety when the grenade exploded but reconvened at the scene of the incident a few minutes after only to discover the suspected suicide bomber laying dead in the pull of his own blood.
But the police spokesman debunked the reports, saying the victim was personnel of the State Police Command.
Six people, including a pregnant woman and a young girl, were killed in northern Burkina Faso when the ambulance they were travelling in struck a highway bomb, authorities said Wednesday.
“An ambulance from the Djibo health district hit a mine on the road between Gaskinde and Namissiguia in the Sahel region,” government spokesman Ousseni Tamboura said in a statement after the Tuesday incident.
“This cowardly and barbarous incident occurred when the ambulance was transporting people to Ouagadougou,” he said of the attack.
The six who died were a pregnant woman, her husband, two women accompanying her, a young girl and the ambulance driver.
The vehicle was “completely ripped apart,” the source said.
Israel bombed Gaza on Wednesday after militants fired rockets through the night, overshadowing the signing of landmark normalisation deals with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in Washington.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the militants of seeking to stop the peace deals, Israel’s first with an Arab country since 1994.
But Gaza ruler Hamas warned Israel it faced an escalation if the bombing continued, barely two weeks after a renewed Egyptian-brokered truce halted near-nightly exchanges across the border through August.
The signing of the two agreements at a White House ceremony hosted by President Donald Trump prompted protest rallies across the Palestinian territories.
The deals broke with decades of Arab consensus that there would be no normalisation of relations with Israel until it had made peace with the Palestinians and drew accusations of “betrayal” against the Western-backed Gulf states.
At least 15 rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip between 8 pm (1700 GMT) Tuesday and early Wednesday, nine of which were intercepted by Israeli air defences, the military said.
One hit the southern port city of Ashdod, wounding at least two people, emergency services said.
“We were surprised by the rockets,” said Ilanit Levy, a 45-year-old resident of Sderot, an Israeli town close to the Gaza border.
“It’s because of the agreements. Maybe they wanted to say that they don’t want peace with us, that they want to damage the agreements,” she added.
The Israeli military said fighter jets responded with strikes on Hamas military targets.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the rocket fire.
But Israel held Hamas responsible, warning it would “bear the consequences for terror activity against Israeli civilians”.
– Cloud over Gulf deals –
The rocket fire came as the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed accords establishing diplomatic relations with Israel and Netanyahu accused the militants of seeking to derail them.
“They want to prevent peace, they won’t. We will hit everyone who tries to harm us, and we will extend a hand of peace to all who reach out to us to make peace,” the prime minister said in a statement.
The landmark agreements prompted demonstrations on Tuesday in both Gaza and the occupied West Bank.
Clutching Palestinian flags and wearing blue face masks for protection against coronavirus, demonstrators rallied in the West Bank cities of Nablus, Hebron and Ramallah, seat of the Palestinian Authority.
Trump said the agreements “will serve as the foundation for a comprehensive peace across the entire region.”
“After decades of division and conflict we mark the dawn of a new Middle East,” he said.
Speaking later to reporters, he said Israel would enter into similar deals with up to nine other countries, including regional power Saudi Arabia.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas warned that the deals would “not achieve peace in the region” until the US and Israel acknowledged his people’s right to a state.
“Peace, security and stability will not be achieved in the region until the Israeli occupation ends,” he said.
Abbas warned that “attempts to bypass the Palestinian people and its leadership, represented by the Palestine Liberation Organisation, will have dangerous consequences”.
Israel’s arch-foe Iran said the UAE and Bahrain were reaching out to a regime that is “committing more crimes in Palestine every day”.
“Some of the region’s countries, their people are pious Muslims but their rulers understand neither religion nor (their) debt … to the nation of Palestine,” President Hassan Rouhani told his cabinet on Wednesday.
In Gaza, protesters trampled on and set fire to placards bearing images of the leaders of Israel, the UAE and Bahrain.
UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov arrived in Gaza on Wednesday for pre-scheduled meetings with Hamas officials.
Hamas has joined the Palestinian Authority in condemning the UAE and Bahrain accords as a “betrayal” of their cause.
The new rocket fire came after militants launched rockets and balloons fitted with incendiary devices across the border through much of August, drawing retaliatory Israeli air strikes.
Late last month, the two sides renewed an Egyptian-brokered truce under which Israel has allowed financial aid from the gas-rich state of Qatar to flow into impoverished Gaza, which has been under Israeli blockade since 2007.