3 Extremists Killed in Foiled Attack on Presidential Palace in Mogadishu

Saturday, 14 July, 2018 - 18:15 
The main entrance to the presidential palace in Mogadishu. (AFP)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Three extremists were killed on Saturday in a failed attempt by the al-Shabaab group to storm the presidential palace in the Somali capital Mogadishu.

The extremists, wearing soldiers' uniforms, kicked off the attack with a car bombing near a checkpoint close to the presidential palace after security forces engaged with gunmen. A second car bomb exploded in the same area shortly afterward, police Capt. Mohamed Hussein said.

Six people were dead in all including a suicide car bomber, he told The Associated Press, saying the situation had calmed and security in the area was being tightened.

"There were skirmishes between security forces and the attackers and then we had a big blast and a huge boom. The blast knocked me down," one witness, Osman Ali, told the AP.

The Somalia-based al-Shabaab extremist group, an arm of al-Qaida, often targets high-profile places in the capital. It claimed responsibility for Saturday's attack, saying its fighters were conducting a "major operation" around the palace and nearby SYL Hotel.

The attack comes a week after five civilians were killed when two blasts targeted Somalia's internal security ministry.

Al-Shabaab was blamed for the October truck bombing in Mogadishu that killed more than 500 people in the deadliest attack in the country's history.

The al-Shabaab has been fighting to overthrow the internationally-backed government in Mogadishu for over a decade.

Despite losing towns and territory in recent years the group continues to carry out regular bombings and armed raids on government, security and civilian targets in the capital and elsewhere.

The United States under the Trump administration has stepped up military efforts in Somalia, including dozens of drone strikes, against al-Shabaab and a small presence of fighters linked to the ISIS group. At least two US military personnel have been killed. 

2 Palestinians Killed in Gaza Flare-up as Israel Vows ‘Strong Action’ 

Saturday, 14 July, 2018 - 17:30 
A smoke plume rises following an Israeli air strike in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah on July 14, 2018. (AFP)

Asharq Al-Awsat
Two Palestinian teenagers were killed on Saturday in a barrage of Israeli air strikes on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian movement retaliated by firing scores of rockets at Israel

The flare-up came after Israeli troops shot and killed two Palestinians, including a teenager, and wounded hundreds of others in border clashes on Friday, the latest in months of protests.

Israel has decided "to take strong action against Gaza aggression", an Israeli government official said on Saturday after the worst flare-up of fighting since a 2014 Israel-Gaza war.

Three Israeli were wounded from a rocket that landed on a residential home.

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said the latest Israeli sortie, the third of the day, struck some 40 Hamas targets including tunnels, logistical centers and a Hamas battalion headquarters. 

He said the escalation was the result of the sustained Hamas rocket attacks, its fomenting of violence along the border and its campaign of launching incendiary kites and balloons that have devastated Israeli farmlands and nature reserves.

"Our message to Hamas is that we can and will enhance the intensity of our effort if needed," he said. "What Hamas is doing is pushing them ever closer to the edge of the abyss ... Hamas will have to understand that there is a price to be paid."

Among the main targets was the "Hamas Battalion HQ in Beit Lahia, which includes urban warfare training facilities, (a) weapon storage warehouse, training compounds, command centers, offices and more", the Israeli army said in a statement.

"A weapons manufacturing site and storage facilities housing various types of weapons, including Hamas' naval capabilities" were also hit, the statement added.

Later, witnesses reported that Israeli warplanes dropped four bombs on an unfinished building near a Hamas police and security compound in Gaza City, reducing the old structure to rubble. The four-story building is adjacent to a public park. Gaza's Health ministry said two teenagers were killed in the strike and ten others injured.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the group was responsible for Saturday's barrage against Israel and that it was carried out "in response to the Israeli air strikes".

"The protection and the defense of our people is a national duty and a strategic choice," Barhoum said.

Palestinians in Gaza have for months been demonstrating against Israel's decade-long blockade of the territory and in support of their right to return to lands they fled or were driven from during the war surrounding the creation of Israel in 1948.

In fresh violence Friday, a 15-year-old was shot dead during the demonstrations and a 20-year-old died later of gunshot wounds sustained during the protest, the Gaza health ministry said.

Since the protests and clashes broke out along the border on March 30, at least 141 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire.

No Israelis have been killed, but officials said one soldier was injured by a grenade on Friday.

Source: https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1331366/3-extremists-killed-foiled-attack-presidential-palace-mogadishu


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