Drone Shot Down At Russia’s Black Sea Fleet Headquarters

FILE: A serviceman stays in guard as he boat patrols water area of Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Mariupol on February 11, 2022. Aleksey Filippov / AFP

 

A drone was shot down over the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea fleet in annexed Crimea on Saturday, a local official said.

“The drone was shot down just above the fleet headquarters” in the city of Sevastopol, city governor Mikhail Razvojaev wrote on Telegram, blaming the attempt on Ukrainian forces.

“It fell on the roof and caught fire,” he said, adding that there was no major damage or victims.

It was the second assault of its kind against the fleet headquarters in less than a month, after a drone attack on July 31 in its courtyard wounded five people and led to the cancellation of planned Fleet Day celebrations.

It was also the latest attack to target Russian military infrastructure in Crimea, a Black Sea peninsula that Moscow seized and annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

Also on Saturday, Konstantin Ivashchenko, appointed by pro-Russian forces as mayor of the port city of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine, was the target of an assassination attempt, according to Russian news agencies.

An explosion rocked his car as it drove past a zoo, the RIA Novosti news agency quoted a police source as saying.

Ivashchenko “was not injured,” the source added.

Earlier Saturday, air defence systems were activated in Evpatoria in western Crimea.

Russian forces on Thursday shot down a drone near an air base in Sevastopol, just two days after explosions ripped through a military base and ammunition depot in Crimea.

In early August, a blast at the Saki air base killed one person and wounded several others.

AFP

Ukraine Denies Carrying Out Drone Attack On Russian Fleet HQ

A Ukrainian soldier launches a drone near Kharkiv on July 23, 2022 amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Photo by SERGEY BOBOK / AFP)

 

Russia said an attack from a drone on Sunday wounded six personnel at the headquarters of its Black Sea fleet in annexed Crimea, as authorities in Ukraine’s southern city of Mykolaiv reported it had suffered its “strongest” shelling of the war.

AFP journalists witnessed an intense bombardment of the eastern town of Bakhmut after President Volodymyr Zelensky called in a late-night address for civilians to leave the front line Donetsk region bearing the brunt of the Kremlin’s offensive.

Russian authorities in the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea — seized by Moscow from Ukraine in 2014 — said a small explosive device from a commercial drone likely launched nearby hit the navy command in the city of Sevastopol.

The local mayor blamed “Ukrainian nationalists” for the attack that forced the cancellation in the city of festivities marking Russia’s annual holiday celebrating the navy.

But a spokesman for Ukraine’s Odessa region military administration denied Kyiv — whose nearest positions are some 200 kilometers (125 miles) away — was responsible and called the incident “a sheer provocation”.

“Our liberation of Crimea from the occupiers will be carried out in another way and much more effectively,” spokesman Sergiy Bratchuk wrote on Telegram.

Authorities in Ukraine’s southern city of Mykolaiv said Sunday that widespread Russian bombardments overnight had left at least two civilians dead, as Moscow continued to pummel the sprawling front line.

“Mykolaiv was subjected to mass shelling today. Probably the strongest so far,” the city’s mayor Oleksandr Senkevych wrote on Telegram.

“Powerful explosions were heard after one in the morning and around five in the morning.”

Mykolaiv — which has been attacked frequently — is the closest Ukrainian city to the southern front where Kyiv’s forces are looking to launch a major counter-offensive to recapture territory lost after Russia’s February invasion.

Zelensky urges Donetsk evacuation

Strikes also pounded the northeastern regions of Kharkiv and Sumy, near the front line with the Russian forces.

“Today a whole succession of explosions took place… a few buildings are reportedly damaged,” Igor Terekhov the mayor of Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv said.

Sumy regional chief Dmytro Zhyvytsky said that some 50 strikes on Saturday evening had left one person dead and two wounded.

The governor of the Donetsk region, where Moscow is focusing the brunt of its attacks, said three civilians were killed and eight wounded in shelling Saturday.

AFP journalists on Sunday saw one wounded man collected by an ambulance after a ferocious bombardment of the town of Bakhmut.

In an overnight address, Zelensky warned that thousands of people, including children, were still in the battleground areas of the Donetsk region.

“There’s already a governmental decision about obligatory evacuation from Donetsk,” Zelensky said, underscoring authorities’ calls to leave the besieged region in recent weeks.

“Leave, we will help,” Zelensky said. “At this stage of the war, terror is the main weapon of Russia.”

Official Ukrainian estimates put the number of civilians still living in the unoccupied area of Donetsk at between 200,000 and 220,000.

A mandatory evacuation notice posted Saturday evening said the coming winter made it a matter of urgency, particularly for the more than 50,000 children still in the region.

“They need to be evacuated, you cannot put them in mortal danger in the winter without heating, light, without the ability to keep them warm,” Kyiv’s Ministry of Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories said in a statement.

Zelensky, in his address, also once more pressed the international community, especially the United States, to have Russia officially declared a “state sponsor of terrorism”.

 Deadly jail strike

The call came a day after a jail holding Ukrainian prisoners of war in Kremlin-controlled Olenivka was bombed, leaving scores dead, with Kyiv and Moscow trading blame.

Russia’s defence ministry said Sunday it had invited the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the United Nations to visit the site “in the interests of an objective investigation”.

There was no confirmation from the two international bodies.

The ICRC said Saturday that a request to send a team to the site had not been granted, and Ukraine said it was encouraging international experts to go to Olenivka.

Russian military accused Kyiv of striking the Olenivka prison with US-supplied long-range missiles in an “egregious provocation” designed to stop soldiers from surrendering.

It said Saturday that the dead included Ukrainian forces who had surrendered after weeks of fighting off Russia’s brutal bombardment of the sprawling Azovstal steelworks in the port city of Mariupol.

The defence ministry said 50 Ukrainian prisoners were killed and 73 were taken to hospital with serious injuries.

Ukraine accuses Russia of responsibility, with Zelensky accusing the Moscow of the “deliberate mass murder of Ukrainian prisoners of war”.

He has stepped up calls for the international community, especially the United States, to have Russia officially declared a “state sponsor of terrorism”.

AFP

US Consulate Hosts Drone Soccer Competition In Lagos

 The winning Pace Setters Team from Ijaiye Housing Estate Senior Grammar School in a group photograph with U.S. Consulate Public Affairs Officer Stephen Ibelli (third right) and U.S. Consulate Deputy Public Affairs Officer Jenny Foltz (second row, third left) with Lagos State Commissioner for Education Folasade Adefisayo during the closing ceremony of the drone soccer competition in Lagos on February 5, 2022.
The winning Pace Setters Team from Ijaiye Housing Estate Senior Grammar School in a group photograph with U.S. Consulate Public Affairs Officer Stephen Ibelli (third right) and U.S. Consulate Deputy Public Affairs Officer Jenny Foltz (second row, third left) with Lagos State Commissioner for Education Folasade Adefisayo during the closing ceremony of the drone soccer competition in Lagos on February 5, 2022.

 

The United States Consulate has collaborated with the Global Air Drone Academy and the Lagos State Ministry of Education to host what it describes as “Africa’s first drone soccer competition in Lagos.”

According to a Monday statement signed by spokesperson Temitayo Famutimi, the competition was part of the US government’s commitment to “supporting programs that promote STEM education and provide students with opportunities to contribute to creating sustainable and inclusive economic prosperity in Nigeria.”

The competition, which held on Saturday, involved Eight girl-led teams selected from 71 student teams from public high schools across Agege, Alimosho and Ifako Ijaiye communities of Lagos Education District 1.

READ ALSO: ASUU Begins Mobilisation Of Members For Possible Strike

The Pace Setters Team from Ijaiye Housing Estate Senior Grammar School emerged as the winner of the tournament. Alisgrams Team from Alimosho Senior Grammar School and Alpha Team from Abesan Senior High School took second and third place positions respectively.

The three best performing teams won a prize of a $1,500 STEM lab each for their respective schools.

Delivering remarks at the grand finale of the tournament, U.S. Consulate Public Affairs Officer Stephen Ibelli highlighted the importance of STEM education to Nigeria’s future prosperity and economic competitiveness.

A group photograph with all participating teams during the closing ceremony of the drone soccer competition in Lagos on February 5, 2022.
A group photograph with all participating teams during the closing ceremony of the drone soccer competition in Lagos on February 5, 2022.

He explained that the tournament was designed to provide the students with quality technological learning opportunities and stimulate their interest in math and science, as well as careers in the STEM fields.

“We are so proud to partner with the Lagos State Ministry of Education and the Global Air Drone Academy to not only bring practical, hands-on STEM education to the Lagos school district but also to offer the opportunity for representing schools to show off their STEM skills in drone soccer, the world’s newest sport,” Ibelli said.

Co-founder of the U.S.-headquartered Global Air Drone Academy, Eno Umoh, explained that one of the key objectives of the program was to engage underserved communities, especially young girls, about the impact they could have in STEM fields.

“We are beyond excited to be pioneering the newest emerging e-sport in Africa. Drones are an innovative and engaging tool that can be used to inspire students to pursue education and careers in STEM,” Umoh added.

The drone soccer competition was a follow-up initiative to a series of drone technology and STEM training for 500 students as well as a capacity building workshop for 50 teachers on effective approaches to teaching STEM subjects which were held in 2021 in Lagos Education District 1.

Drone Soccer is the world’s newest e-sport played with flying quadcopters in protective plastic exoskeletons designed for full-contact gameplay. Drone Soccer is the only educational robotics competition that is also an international sport, sanctioned by the World Air Sports Federation (Fédération Aéronautique Internationale) in 2018.

Buhari Condemns Drone Strikes In UAE

File photo of President Muhammadu Buhari.e

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned the drone strikes in the United Arab Emirates that caused explosions and a deadly fire outside the capital, Abu Dhabi.

Three people were killed when a deadly drone hit fuel trucks near the country’s airport in Abu Dhabi on Monday, causing multiple explosions.

READ ALSO: Buhari Never Directed Removal Of Petrol Subsidy, Says Lawan

Few hours after the incident, the President issued a statement via his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, where he described the attack as a worrisome escalation.

Buhari said such attacks targeting innocent people and civilian infrastructure, leading to the loss of lives were condemnable by all reasonable opinions around the globe and should be stopped.

“On behalf of the government and the people of Nigeria, we express our deepest sympathies and condolences to the people and the friendly state of the UAE,” Buhari was quoted to have said.

President Buhari urged restraint to give dialogue and engagement a chance.

Two Drones Shot Down Targeting Iraq Base – Anti-IS Coalition

A picture obtained from a senior coalition official shows the remains of two armed drowns at the site where the US-led coalition against the Islamic State (IS) group in Iraq said it shot down two drones targeting a compound hosting coalition troups at Baghdad airport early in the morning on January 3, 2022. Handout / AFP

 

Two armed drones targeting an air base in western Iraq were shot down on Tuesday, an official of the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group said.

“Two fixed-wing drones rigged with explosives were engaged and destroyed by defensive capabilities at the Iraqi Al-Asad Air Base early this morning,” the official said.

“The attempted attack was unsuccessful. All forces are accounted for.”

It is the second such attack in 24 hours targeting the coalition in Iraq. On Monday, the coalition shot down two armed drones targeting its compound at Baghdad airport.

The attacks come as Tehran and its allies across the Middle East held emotional commemorations marking the second anniversary on Monday of the assassination of Iranian commander General Qassem Soleimani and his Iraqi lieutenant in a US drone strike at Baghdad airport.

Coalition troops switched to a training and advisory role with the end of their combat mission early last month.

“While we have ended our combat mission, we maintain the inherent right of self-defence,” the official said.

“These are attacks against Iraqi installations, and an attack against the Iraqi people and the military that protects them. We maintain a minimal footprint on Iraqi bases —- the coalition no longer has its own bases in Iraq.”

Morocco Launches Fleet Of Drones To Tackle COVID-19 From The Sky

 

 

Morocco has rapidly expanded its fleet of drones as it battles the coronavirus pandemic, deploying them for aerial surveillance, public service announcements and sanitisation.

“This is a real craze. In just weeks, demand has tripled in Morocco and other countries in the region,” said Yassine Qamous, chief of Droneway Maroc, African distributor for leading Chinese drone company DJI.

Moroccan firms have been using drones for years and Qamous says it “is among the most advanced countries in Africa” for unmanned flight, with a dedicated industrial base, researchers and qualified pilots.

But restrictive regulations have long limited civilian drones to specific applications such as filming, agriculture, monitoring solar panels and mapping.

That changed rapidly as the novel coronavirus swept across the world.

In recent weeks, authorities have employed drones to issue warnings, identify suspicious movement in the streets and disperse illegal rooftop and balcony gatherings.

READ ALSO: Egypt Reopens Slowly To Revive Pandemic-hit Economy

A strict lockdown imposed in March has not been uniformly respected, with local media reporting on nighttime gatherings of neighbours and collective prayers on roofs, beyond the view of street patrols.

– ‘Vital technology’ –

Last week local authorities in Temara, a town near the capital Rabat, launched a high-precision aerial surveillance system developed by local company Beti3D, which previously specialised in aerial mapping.

Other countries in Europe, Asia and the Middle East have also adopted technology deployed in China since the start of the pandemic, whether for tracking the movements of citizens, disinfecting public spaces or facilitating deliveries.

“Drones have quickly emerged as a vital technology for public safety agencies during this crisis as they can safely monitor public spaces,” according to the website of DJI, by far the world’s top drone maker.

Like most countries, Morocco primarily uses imported Chinese drones. But the emergence of new applications linked to the pandemic is also driving local production of specialised aerial vehicles.

“There is real demand,” said Abderrahmane Krioual, the head of Farasha, a startup that has raised funds to produce drones for thermal surveillance and aerial disinfectant spraying.

The aeronautics department of the International University of Rabat (UIR) offered its facilities, expertise and prototypes to authorities in March, deploying drones with loudspeakers or infrared cameras able to detect movement at night or spot individuals with high temperatures.

Several projects are underway across the country ahead of the widespread deployment of various models of drones, said Mohsine Bouya, the university’s director of technology development and transfer.

Teams are also developing tracking applications, but “we’ll have to wait for a change to the law” before launching them, he said.

Moroccan authorities declined to comment on the use of drones or the numbers deployed since the start of the public health emergency in mid-March.

– ‘Toxic lockdown culture’ –

Unlike in some countries, the use of surveillance drones has not sparked public debate in Morocco, where the kingdom’s authoritarian response to the pandemic is widely supported.

Morocco closed its borders early and tasked law enforcement with imposing strict confinement measures on the population.

They include movement restrictions and the compulsory wearing of masks, with a nighttime curfew since the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan — enforced by a heavy police presence.

Those found guilty of violating lockdown measures face one to three months in prison, a fine equivalent to $125, or both.

Officials say police have arrested 85,000 people for breaching lockdown measures between March 15 and April 30, bringing 50,000 prosecutions.

Authorities say the measures have limited transmission of the virus, with 5,053 COVID-19 cases reported including 179 deaths and 1,653 recoveries since the crisis began.

But the kingdom’s high number of arrests has drawn criticism from Georgette Gagnon, director of field operations at the United Nations’ Human Rights Office.

Last week she listed Morocco among countries where repressive coronavirus measures have created a “toxic lockdown culture”.

Morocco disputed this, saying its measures were “in line with legal frameworks respecting human rights”.

AFP

Kuwait Probes Drone That ‘Intruded’ On Day Of Saudi Strike

Smoke billows from an Aramco oil facility in Abqaiq about 60km (37 miles) southwest of Dhahran in Saudi Arabia’s eastern province on September 14, 2019. PHOTO: AFP

Kuwait is investigating accounts that a drone intruded its airspace and flew over the royal palace Saturday, the same day a devastating strike was launched on Saudi oil infrastructure.

Yemen’s Huthi rebels — who are aligned with Tehran — claimed the attack on two oil facilities which cut Saudi production by half, but the United States has blamed Iran and there is also speculation the assault may have been launched from Iraq.

Baghdad on Sunday denied any link to attacks on Saudi oil plants, saying it is “constitutionally committed to preventing any use of its soil to attack its neighbours”.

But Iraq is home to several Iran-backed militias and paramilitary factions, putting it in an awkward situation amid rising tensions between its two main sponsors, Tehran and Washington.

Media reports speculated that a drone travelling south from Iraq to the eastern oilfields of Saudi Arabia could have travelled over the sea or through Kuwait’s airspace.

Kuwait’s Alrai newspaper said that at dawn on Saturday, an unmanned drone about the size of a small car came down to a height of about 250 metres over the palace, before turning on its lights and flying away.

Kuwait’s Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Sabah has ordered the beefing up of security measures around vital installations in the country, according to a government statement posted on Twitter on Sunday.

“Security officials have started the necessary investigation regarding the drone that was seen flying  over the coastal area of Kuwait City,” it said.

Another newspaper, Al-Rai, said that the drone continued for a considerable period of time and flew over the seaside residential palace of Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah who is undertaking medical tests in the United States.

Kuwait is an OPEC member which has land borders with Iraq and Saudi Arabia and shares sea borders with Iran.

AFP

US Military Probes Reported Downing Of Drone In Yemen

 

The US military said Wednesday it is investigating reports that one of its drones was destroyed by Iranian-backed Huthi rebels in Yemen, amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran.

The US Central Command said in a statement the drone was operating “in authorized airspace over Yemen,” but did not confirm that it had been shot down.

“We have been clear that Iran’s provocative actions and support to militants and proxies, like the Iranian-backed Huthis, pose a serious threat to stability in the region and our partners,” it said.

The Huthis on Tuesday circulated images on Twitter showing a ball of fire in the night, which they said was a US drone shot down over Damar, a community southeast of Sanaa.

They said they destroyed the drone with a rebel-made missile. They also posted images of pieces of an aircraft with English lettering on it.

AFP

Flights Suspended In Dublin Airport After Drone Sighting

Dublin Airport. Source: Getty Images

 

Flight operations at Dublin airport have been temporarily suspended due to the confirmed sighting of a drone over the airfield, Ireland’s largest airport said on Thursday.

The flying of drones over Britain’s second-busiest airport, London’s Gatwick, sparked 36 hours of travel chaos last December while flights at Dubai International Airport were temporarily grounded last week due to suspected drone activity.

READ ALSO: IS Bride Shamima Begum ‘Shocked’ After UK Revokes Her Citizenship

“Passengers should contact their airline’s website for flight updates. We will post updates here when they become available,” Dublin airport said on its Twitter page.

Reuters

Gatwick Airport Reopens After 32-Hour Drone Shutdown

Passengers wait at London Gatwick Airport, south of London, on December 20, 2018 after all flights were grounded due to drones flying over the airfield. London Gatwick Airport was forced to suspend all flights on December 20 due to drones flying over the airfield, causing misery for tens of thousands of stuck passengers just days before Christmas.
Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

London’s Gatwick Airport, paralysed for more than two days after dozens of drone sightings, said it planned to reopen Friday for a “limited number” for flights.

“Gatwick’s runway is currently available and a limited number of aircraft are scheduled for departure and arrival,” the airport said on Twitter. It advised passengers to check the status of their flights before travelling to the airport.

AFP

Gatwick Airport Suspends Flight Over Drone Intrusion

Passenger aircraft are pictured standing on the tarmac at departure gates at London Gatwick Airport, south of London, on December 20, 2018 after all flights were grounded due to drones flying over the airfield.  Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

London Gatwick Airport was forced to suspend all flights on Thursday due to drones flying over the airfield, causing misery for tens of thousands of stuck passengers just days before Christmas.

Flights into Gatwick, south of the British capital, were diverted to other airports while passengers waiting to take off faced gruelling delays.

Gatwick is the eighth-busiest airport in Europe and sits behind Mumbai as the world’s busiest single runway air hub.

A cat-and-mouse manhunt is under way to catch the drone operator.

Two drones were first spotted flying over the airport at around 9:00 pm (2100 GMT) on Wednesday. The airfield briefly reopened at 3:00 am on Thursday, but had to be closed again following further sightings.

“All flights to and from Gatwick are suspended due to ongoing drone activity around the airport. Unfortunately, there are significant delays and cancellations to all flights,” the airport said.

“We apologise to everyone affected, but the safety of all our passengers and staff is our number one priority.”

Some 10,000 passengers were affected on Wednesday night, and a further 110,000 were due to either take off or land at the airport on 760 flights on Thursday.

More than 20 police units from two forces were searching for those responsible.

“We believe this to be a deliberate act to disrupt the airport. However, there are absolutely no indications to suggest this is terror-related,” said Superintendent Justin Burtenshaw of the local Sussex Police force.

“Each time we believe we get close to the operator, the drone disappears; when we look to reopen the airfield, the drone reappears.”

 ‘Everyone’s trying to get home’ 

Chris Woodroofe, Gatwick’s chief operating officer, told BBC radio that it would be dangerous to shoot at the drone due to the danger of stray bullets.

Inside the airport, weary passengers faced a grim wait to reach their destinations, with many returning home for the holidays.

Gisele Fenech, 43, who was travelling to Malta, was among those stranded.

“We’re meeting family and it’s my daughter’s birthday today so it’s gone all wrong. We’ve been looking forward to this for so long,” she told AFP.

“Everyone’s trying to get home for Christmas.”

Musab Rashid, 22, who was going to Copenhagen, said: “It’s wrong, it’s childish of them to do this, because it’s affected more than 100,000 people.”

Karin Sjostrom-Nandris, 49, was was heading to Stockholm, said: “We can’t really leave this queue because this seems to be the only place we could possibly find out any information. The queue looks like it’s several hours long, so we could be here for some time.”

Under British law, drones cannot be flown near aircraft or within a kilometre of an airport, or at an altitude of over 400 feet (122 metres). Those breaking the law could face up to five years in prison.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman slammed the perpetrator.

“This behaviour is irresponsible and completely unacceptable,” he told reporters.

“We feel for all the passengers who are facing so much disruption.”

In parliament, members of the upper House of Lords raised the likelihood of a new wave of people getting hold of drones as presents this Christmas.

Gatwick serves more than 228 destinations in 74 countries for 45 million passengers a year.

AFP