Sunday, 31 July 2011

Drug cartel hitman was behind 1,500 murders, police say

Drug cartel hitman was behind 1,500 murders, police say
The leader of a network of drug cartel hitmen who was arrested in Mexico on Friday was behind some 1,500 murders, including the 2010 killing of a US official in Ciudad Juarez and the deaths of 14 teenagers at a party, police said Sunday.
By News Wires (text)
AFP - A leader of a gang of drug cartel hitmen arrested in northern Mexico was responsible for some 1,500 murders, including the killing of a US consular official, a senior police official said Sunday.
Antonio Acosta Hernandez, alias "El Diego," is "the mastermind behind the US consulate killings," federal police anti-drug chief Ramon Pequeno told reporters.
He was referring to the March 2010 murder of a US consular officer, her husband and another American in Ciudad Juarez, a border city opposite El Paso, Texas.
Acosta also was blamed for the killing of 14 youths at a January 2010 party, a July 2010 car bomb attack that left two policemen dead and killings at a rehabilitation center for addicts that targeted several alleged members of rival gangs.
Acosta was arrested Friday after a shoot-out in the northern city of Chihuahua.
He was a leader of "La Linea," an armed wing of the Gulf cartel, and had links to other gangs such as "Los Aztecas." He had a $1.2 million bounty on his head.
Pequeno credited Acosta with raising the level of "violence and radicalism" in a rivalry between the Gulf cartel and its rivals for control of smuggling routes into the United States.
According to official figures, an estimated 41,000 people have been killed in violence related to organized crime in Mexico since December 2006, when President Felipe Calderon put the military in charge of a crackdown on the drug cartels.
Ciudad Juarez, where Acosta operated, is considered the most violent city in Mexico. Last year, the city saw 3,100 murders linked to drug trafficking.

Iranian sentenced to blinding for acid attack pardoned


Ameneh Bahrami in March 2009Ameneh Bahrami said she had reprieved the man "for my country"

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An Iranian man who was ordered to be blinded for carrying out an acid attack on a woman has been pardoned by his victim, state television has said.
Ameneh Bahrami had demanded qisas, a rarely used retributive justice under Sharia law, but the report said she had foregone that right at the last minute.
A court had backed Ms Bahrami's demand in 2008 that Majid Movahedi be blinded.
He attacked Ms Bahrami in 2004 after she had refused his offer of marriage, leaving her severely disfigured.
Rights group Amnesty International had lobbied against the sentence, calling it "cruel and inhuman punishment amounting to torture".
Mother's praise
The state television website reported: "With the request of Ameneh Bahrami, the acid attack victim, Majid (Movahedi) who was sentenced for 'qisas' was pardoned at the last minute."

Start Quote

I had no intention of taking his eyes from him”
Ameneh Bahrami
The Isna news agency quoted Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi as saying: "Today in hospital the blinding of Majid Movahedi was to have been carried out in the presence of an eye specialist and judiciary representative, when Ameneh pardoned him."
Isna quoted Ms Bahrami as saying: "I struggled for seven years with this verdict to prove to people that the person who hurls acid should be punished through 'qisas', but today I pardoned him because it was my right.
"I did it for my country, since all other countries were looking to see what we would do."
Ms Bahrami was quoted on Iranian TV as saying: "I never wanted to have revenge on him. I just wanted the sentence to be issued for retribution. But I would not have carried it out. I had no intention of taking his eyes from him."
Mr Dolatabadi told Isna that Ms Bahrami had demanded "blood money", or compensation, for her injuries.
He praised her "courageous act" of pardon, adding: "The judiciary was serious about implementing the verdict."
Ms Bahrami said she had never received any money from the man's family, saying she was seeking only compensation for medical fees, which she put at 150,000 euros ($216,000: £131,000).
She said: "He wont be freed. He has a sentence, which he has to serve for 10-12 years of which he has done seven. Unless the full compensation is paid, he won't be freed."
Isna quoted Ms Bahrami's mother as saying: "I am proud of my daughter... Ameneh had the strength to forgive Majid. This forgiveness will calm Ameneh and our family."

Afhayeenka Ciidamada Al-Shabaab Abuu Muscab oo sheegay in Sarkaal Mareykan ah ku dileen dagaalada

Afhayeenka Ciidamada Xarakada Al-Shabaab Sheekh C/casiis Abuu Muscab ayaa sheegay in dagaaladii maalmahan ka dhacayay Magaalada Muqdisho ay ku dileen Sarkaal Mareykan ah oo dagaalada hogaaminayay.

Abuu Muscab ayaa sheegay inay hayaan cadeymo iyo Documentiyo, isagoo tilmaamay in Sarkaalkaas uu ahaa tababare Ciidamada Midowga Afrika ee AMISOM, isla markaana mararka qaar dagaalada uu ka qeyb qaadanayay.

"Mujaahidiinta waxay ku dileen sarkaalkaas Mareykanka oo dhalad ahaa degmada Hodan, wuxuu ka qeyb qaadanayay dagaalka, Tababare ayuu ahaa, Documentiyo iyo tixraac ayaan heynaa, sida la socotaa Gaalada Afrikaanta in inta aysan imaan waxaa soo tababaray saraakiil Mareykanka, kuwana waa soo raaceen"ayuu yiri Abuu Muscab.

Abuu Muscab ayaa sidoo kale sheegay inay soo bandhigayaan cadeymahaas iyo tixaarcyada ay hayaan, waxaana uu ka dhawaajiyay in dagaaladii maalmihii la soo dhaafay ka dhacayay Muqdisho ay ku dileen Saraakiil iyo Ciidamo fara badan oo ka mid ah kuwa AMISOM.

Hadalka Afhayeenka ayaa ku soo beegmaya xilli dagaalo culus Al-Shabaab looga qabsaday dhul ballaaran oo ka mid ah deegaano ay horay u joogeen Shabaab, iyadoo hada Shabaabka ay soo koobmeyso deegaanada ay kaga sugan yihiin magaalada Muqdisho oo halka maanta ay joogaan horay Dowladdu u joogtay.



Excellencies: The world is watching and your actions will make history:
The ongoing drought and famine in Somalia reflects one of the painful moments of our recent tragic history.  The compassion and support being provided by the international community cannot be a substitute to the collective imperative role of the Somalis, in the peace building and peacemaking efforts that they can generate from within. Although a large number of Somalis are directly observing the tragedy, many of us are physically detached by thousands of kilometers from the tragedy that has struck many provinces of Somalia. Our hearts are broken when we meet these victims or watch the TV and see mothers carrying severely malnourished children, and narrating to the media the long and tragic journeys they have endured, and their loved ones that could not subsist their harsh attempts to escape for survival. However, this is not a time to shed tears, rather, “now is the time for action”. Accordingly, as an expert in the field of humanitarian crisis, I am sending this message to the Somalis and to the world community, offering some concrete suggestion than can help in the emergency response process and resolve the challenges of “Access” and “Security” faced by the humanitarian organizations.
The prolonged droughts have led to the current famine in Southern Somalia, labeled as the worst humanitarian disaster currently being witnessed at the global level. This disaster is posing the risk of death to over 2.5 million inhabitants.  The risk is imminent and this can leave a devastating legacy in the history of this nation. The ultimate responsibility for averting the undesirable consequences of this disaster falls on the shoulders of the current Somalia government, the rulers of and the affected regions and the international humanitarian community. The most important UN agency responsible for food relief related humanitarian interventions has declared that they are unable to provide support to these victims as access is being denied. This is the agency that collects food aid from most donating governments and organizations in the world and transfers these to the needy populations, especially children and mothers present in the affected regions of the world.
In Somalia we have a population in a dire need for food, emergency health response, water, protection, shelter and other support immediately now, and for a post emergency recovery support of at least two years.
1.      There is a serious scarcity of food resources in the famine affected regions caused by the prolonged drought and by the lack of peace and security that made the people unable to effectively engage in their daily livelihoods
2.      The restrictions put on humanitarian organizations that have limited their relief operations in the affected regions be it food, health care services and provision of water and shelter
3.      The affected areas are also  difficult to access, why the willing Somali NGOs/CSOs for relief purposes are unable to operate freely in the area
4.      The active armed conflict in the region has posed high risk to aid transportation and to aid workers
5.      The lack of any meaningful communication on humanitarian aid provision, between the  Harakat-Alshabab and the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) has ignited more suspicion, distrust and hostile confrontations
6.      The lack of experienced local relief organizations in the famine affected regions and the inability of the local governance to generate international trust for a transparent and fair distribution of the food aid
7.      The denial of access for international aid monitors whose presence in the field provides the required evidence to maintain the humanitarian support, matching the local with the required provisions, and also to verify the efficiency of food storage, management and distribution processes
8.       The inability of the TFG to access the affected regions for the provision of humanitarian support
9.      The pastoral and rain fed dependent economy in the drought regions has made the local population highly vulnerable to natural and manmade disasters, making the recovery phase of this emergency most critical and urgent.

The aspiration of every responsible Somali is to do everything he or she can, to save the lives of these victims and facilitate their access to food and other humanitarian relief. The following need to be implemented on immediate basis:

a)      The TFG should declare a unilateral cessation of all sorts of fighting with Al-Shabab for a period of three months to allow the free movement of food aid and aid workers and that should be supported by the UN
b)     The Harakat Al-Shabab Al Mujahiddin organization to declare an immediate cessation of all forms of fighting for the same period of time


a)      Formation of relief Committees: The authorities of each of the two parties should immediately constitute a Relief Committee that works closely with the relief agencies and facilitates the humanitarian action securing a good governance for the in-coming relief goods in the areas that fall under their respective influence and control

b)     The TFG and Harakat Al-Shabab Al-Mujahidiin should ensure transparent and efficiency distribution of aid and prevent any mismanagement of the aid resources as this will defeat the purpose of the relief operation and discourage the humanitarian organizations to provide any further sustained support


a)      Providing Permission to all humanitarian organizations to serve: The Harakat Al-Shabab Al-Mujaahidiin should allow all agencies willing to bring humanitarian aid to the affected populations with full permission to operate freely, with close coordination with and under the protection of the local authorities to produce maximum beneficial outputs in their noble effort to save lives.

b)     Formation of Humanitarian Police Security Units: The TFG and Alshabab have to create their respectiveHumanitarian Police Security Units” that will operate in the areas under their respective control with the responsibility to guard and protect the transportation, warehousing and distribution of food aid and ensure the security of Aid Workers.  


a)      Rapid Needs Assessment: Undertake a rapid needs assessment for Early Recovery and Assist the local population to reestablish their community livelihoods and promote economic recovery interventions for sustainable survival  
b)     Extending the Ceasefire: Explore options for extending the ceasefire and negotiating peace, as the major underlying cause of the thousands of unjustified deaths in the region is the lack of peace and protracted conflict
c)       Peace Negotiation for Human Survival: For human survival, all doors must be knocked, and peace negotiations established with all parties when that is the only way to save life as is the case in Somalia

The two decades long conflict ridden governance crisis in Somalia has resulted in serious consequences that the world community cannot ignore. The salient among these include: the lost peace and stability in a member state of the United nations; the repeated humanitarian crisis emerging every few years with significant loss of life and humanitarian investment; the huge refugee outflow and internally displaced populations with significant sufferings attached; the regionalization of the conflict that has mandated the fielding of a high contingent of peacekeeping forces; the spread of the piracy phenomenon with its impact on international trade; the unlawful maritime activities and illegal fishing in the seashores of Somalia and the hazardous waste dumping in the Somali sea. Moreover, the Somali nation has been fragmented to political, regional, religious and tribal factions that have led to the failure of every effort for peace. These are conditions that will have a larger regional impact and cannot be ignored by the nationals and international community. The following are key explicit roles to be assumed:

a)      Action for Peace by the Somalis: The Somalis have to use their deep and culturally rooted principles of negotiation for Peace, founded on generating legitimate, valid and mutually acceptable solutions to every outstanding problem. The latter is substantiated by the traditional negotiation culture of the Somalis engraved in their proverbs i.e. “Before you negotiate for a case, check its validity-the culture of prenegotiaiton”; “give sweet milk to your negotiating enemy-building confidence”; “if you cannot get what you want, negotiate the indispensible possible-the best alternative to a negotiated agreement”; “If there was not a flexible side in a negotiation, the sky would not rain-the culture of win-win option” etc.). The emerging extreme political, religious and tribal outlook; the struggle for power; and the lack of real sacrifice for peaceful coexistence of the nation and peacemaking in the country has made others label Somalia as a “Failed State” and put our social and governance indicators at the bottom of all nations of the world. The Somali People and their current rulers of Somalia, whether they control a district, a province or an entire region have to stand for the revival of peace and stability and take the leadership in achieving this goal, and realize that the international support will only be effective and useful when they assume their prime responsibility of a nation building vision. The Somali Diaspora should play a responsible role by supporting the peace and unity building option, this being the only positive contribution they can and need to offer.
b)     Urgent and Meaningful Support by the International Community:  To effectively respond to this major disaster and avert other similar disasters in the future, the international community has to sponsor serious peace building and peacemaking political interventions that can drive the different Somali political leaders and rulers to sanity and the population to peace, stability and development. In the Somali tradition, the peace negotiation platform brings people from the negotiating sides who have the full support and confidence of their constituencies and also represent the existing internal diversity of opinions within each negotiating partner group, to ensure that the negotiation process is widely shared and final decisions have the shared acceptance of all parties. It is therefore important to consider holding the key negotiations inside the country, and if that is logistically difficult, to hold the early phases of these negotiations (pre-negotiations) at national level, to allow the above outlined wider levels of participation. Somalia needs a comprehensive humanitarian-cum-peace building-cum development. The sensitive geographical location of the country should attract the African, Arab and International powers to help resolve the crisis of a country deeply engulfed by a chronic complex emergency and a failure of its national institutions.

The current humanitarian crisis in Southern Somalia should act as the Alarm Bell that is pound to awake the Somalis and the world community to their moral obligations and commitments to social justice and peace

Madanayaal, Walaalayaal
Soomaali Laba Malyuun ka badan oo 60-70% ay yihiin caruur iyo hooyooyin ayaa abaar iyo gaajo dartood halis ugu jira iney le’daan. Geeska Africa oo dhan ayey abaartani saameysaa sida Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda iyo Djibouti oo kulligood gurmadka iyo kaalmada addunweynaha u baahan. Waxase la isku raacay in Soomaaliya, gaar ahaan goboladeeda koonfureed, yihiin deegaanka ugu liita marka la barbar dhigo ummadahaas abbaaruhu ku habsadeen. Waxa taas ugu wacan ma aha in abaarteennu ka kulustahay kuwa kale ee waa dhibaatooyinka barbar socda ee ummadda saameeyey, sida  ammaan la’aanta iyo dagaalada iyo colaadda joogtada ah ee dalka ka ooggan. Colaaddasi waxay keentay bara-kicid dad badan oo hantidoodii iyo meheradohoodii was-soo-saar halkaas ku baabe’een, taasina ay cawaaqibkii abaaraha sii cusleysay. Dhanka kale ammaan la’aantu waxay keentay in Heya’dihii Caalamiga ahaa ee gurmadka diyaarka u ahaa, ay u bareeri waayeen khatartaas meesha ka ooggan, halkaasne ay ku hakatay kaalmadii ummaddaasi xaqa u lahayd; qaar heya’dahaas ka mid ahna waaba laga mamnuucay gurmadkaas, taasoo inta kalena baqdin dheeri ah sii gelinaysa.
Haddaba iyadoo aad maanta masuul ka tihiin ummaddaas tabaaleysan, berrina la-is-weyddiindoono dhimashadooda xaq-darrada ah, ayaan waxan go’aansaday inaan dhambaalkan idiin soo diro, anigoo ahaan jiray massul Somaaliyeed ee ka soo shaqeeyey caafimaadka dalka, hormuudna ka noqday kulliadda caafimaadka ee jaamicadda Ummadda, muddo dheerna u soo shaqeeyey Heyadda Caafimaadka Adduunka.
Arrinta keentay dhambaalkan, waa aqoonta dheeriga ah een u leeyahay abaabulidda gargaarada loo fidiyo ummadaha ay ku habsadaan aafooyinka dabiiciga ah iyo kuwa colaaduhu keenaan (natural and manmade disasters) iyo sida aan u hubo in badbaadada nolosha dadkaas ay ku xirantahay hadba sida gargaar bani-aadminimo loogu abaabulo, si karti lehne loo gaarsiiyo. Sidaa darteed manta badbaadinta ummaddaas tabaaleysan, Ilaah ka sokow, idinka ayaa masuul ka ah isu-duwidda badbaadinta caruurtaas iyo haweenkaas oo ah tirada ugu badan dadka tabaaleysan. Noloshoodu Ilaah ka sokow, IDINKA Dadaalkiinna iyo abaabulkiinna gurmad ayey ku xirantahay.  Si loo badbaadiyo ummaadaas waxa lagama maarmaan ah in tallaabooyinkan si degdeg ah loo hir-geliyo
1.      Ku dhawaaqid xabbad joojin iyo hakinta colaadda taagaan: In Dawladda Federaalka iyo Harakat Al-Shabab Al Mujahiddin ay ku dhawaaqaan saddex biload oo xabbad-joojin ah oo colaadaha taagaan oo dhan la hakiyo muddadaas, iyada oon lagu xirin wax shuruud ah sida ku xiridda xabbad joojintaas aqbalaadda qolada kale iyo ku dhawaaqiddooda. Taasi waxay suurta gelinaysaa in kaalmooyinka ummadda iyo kuwa haya’daha caalamiga ahiba si nabad ah loogu daad-gureeeyo, loona gaarsiiyo ummadda tabaaleysan,

2.      Hirgelinta Maamulka iyo Maareynta wanaagsan ee Gargaarka: Si loo hubiyo in gargaarka dantii laga lahaa uusan ka leexan, waa in maamulada masuulka ka ah deegaamada aaffadu sameysay ama dadka barakacay u soo qaxeen ay si xaq ah oo degdeg ah u fududeeyaan dhammaan hawlaha gargaarka ummadda tabaaleysanna iyo sidii loo gaarsiin lahaa

3.      Sameyn Guddiyo Sare ee Gargaar: Waa in Maamulka Dawladda Federaalka iyo Maamulka Xarakat Al-Shabab ay abuuraan Guddiyo Sare ee Gargaarka, loona sameeyo laamo uga hawl-gala degaamada gargaarka laga fulinayo. Xilka Guddiyaddaasi waa iney fududeeyaan hawlaha gargaarka, ilaaliyaan hantida garkaarka marka la safrinayo iyo marka ay maqaasiinnada ku jirtoba iyo iney hagaan heya’daha gargaarka, iyo isu-duwiddooda (coordination) kuna dadaalaan in aaney kaalmooyinku ugu wada-leexaan  degaaammo kooban, kuwo kale ee baahi qabana uga leexan, isla markaasna meesha mudnaanta gaarka ah u baahan la sheego lagana hawl-galo, iyo in wax kasta ee musuq ah lagala dagaalamo qaybinta gaargaarkaas

4.      Hawlgalka Heya’daha Caalamiga ah ee Gargaarka: Waa in la ilaaliyaa amniga shaqaalaha gargaarka caalamiga ah, loona fududeeyaa dhaqdhaqaaq kasta ee u suurta gelinaya iney u gurmadaan dadka tabaaleysan, meel kasta ay ku suganyihiin. Waa in maamulada degaamadaasi isku hawlaan isu-duwidda dadaalka gargaar ee heya’dahaasi wadaan, iyada oo lala kaashanayo Guddiga sare ee Gargaarka ee fududeynta hawlahaas loo xil-saaray, si loo gaaro yoolka gargaarka oo ah naf-kasta ee silicsan in la badbaadiyo, ummaddana inta ugu badan gargaarka la gaarsiiyo

5.      Dhisidda Koox Boolis ee si Gaar ah ugu Hawllan Arrimaha Gargaarka: Dawladda federaalka iyo Maamulka Al-Shabab waa iney degaamadooda ka abuuran Koox boolis ee illaalisa Amniga Gargaarka, ee si toos ah ula shaqeysa Guddiga Sare ee Gargaarka ee loo abuuray hawlgalkan. Kooxdaasi waxay masuul ka noqonaysaa badbaadinta gargaarka, ilaalinta safrintiisa, keydintiisa iyo qaybintiisa, iyaga oon gacan ku yeelandoonin  maamulka gargaarka. 

6.      Bilaabidda Gargaarka Qaybtiisa Dib-u-dhisiddaa: Inta badan marka laga baxo gargaarka qaybtiisa hore ee badbaadinta ah, ayaa loo gudbaa qaybta labaad ee u sahlaysa ummadan bara-kacday iney noloshoodii dib u dhisaan ilaa ay isku fillansho nololeed ka gaaraan, dibna ugu noqdaan meheradihii uu dakhli-nololeedku uga soo bixi-jiray. Waxa habboon in la soo dedejiyo gargaarkan heerka labaad ah, lana sameeyo baarisyo degdeg ah (rapid assessment) ee lagu ogaanayo baahida iyo mashaariicda la hawl-kelin karo, laguna dadaalo in dadku ayan ka daahin beerohoodii, iyo in loo abuuro hawlo iyo farsamooyin ay ku noolaan karaan. 

7.      In Nabadda La xoojiyo: Waa in lagu dadaalaa inaan wax colaad ah la abuurin inta gargaarkan la dhameys-tirayo oo ummadda taabaaleysan khatarta ay ku suganyihiin laga samata-bixinayo. Isla markaas waa in maamulada siyaasadeed ee dalka ka jira ee colaaddu dhex taal ay abuuraan golayaal lagu garramo, xalna loogu raadiyo burburka 20 jirsadey kana sii daraya. Iyadoo cidkasta ee nabad la rabta Soomaaliya lala kaashanayo. Waa in shirar laga aloosaa dalka gudihiisa, si khilaafaadka loo soo kobo, dabaddeedna xal loo dhanyhay loogu helo. Soomaalidu wada-garranka taariikh dheer ayey u leedahay. Khibraddaas soo jireenka ah maanta addunweynaha jaamicadihiisa sare ayaa kuwo u dhigma laga dhigaa oo laga bartaa garranka wanaagsan. Kuwaasi waxay ku qeexanyihiin murtida Somaalida, sida: Gartaada intaan geedka la geyn ayaa la naqdaa; Cadowgaa caana macaanbaa la siiyaa; waxaad rabti haddaad weydid, waxaad ka badin waydid ayaa la yeelaa; aan wada-hadallo waa aan-heshiinno;  Oodo dhacameed sidey u kala sarreeyaan ayaa look ala qaadaa iyo kuwo badan ee la mid ah. 

Ugu dambeyntii ha la ogaado, baaqani waa QAYLO_DHAAN. Meel Hoo u Baahan Hadal Wax kama Taro. Ilaahay waxan ka baryaynnaa inuu tubta toosan na solonsiiyo, kuwii isu naxaariistana naga dhigo. Fikradaha siyaasadeed ama diimeed ee la kala haysto, iyo khilaafaadka ummaddeenna dhextaal an dib-u-dhiganno. Gaajada iyo abaarta an u guntanno. Allow nagu guulee
Wa-billahi Towfiiq

Dr. Khalif Bile Mohamud M.D.; Ph.D.
Communicable Diseases Epidemiology,
Health Emergency Response and
Health Systems Specialist

Bombing of a mosque in Syria reignites tensions between Sunnis and Alawis

A Sunni mosque in the eastern Syrian city of Homs was recently targeted by heavy bombing from Syrian armed forces. This is one of the first times authorities have openly attacked a religious building. The event shocked residents and drew attention to the growing inter-religious tensions underlying the popular revolt against president Bashar al-Assad and his government.
Syria is composed of a number of different religious and ethnic communities. Since 1971, the country has been run by the al-Assad family, which belongs to the Alawi Muslim minority (less 10% of the Syrian population). Sunni Muslims are the majority (70% of the population). Kurds represent 10% of the population, and there are also Christian, Druze and Shiite minorities. The Homs mosque bombed by Syrian forces on July 21 was located in a Sunni neighbourhood.
Since the beginning of the popular uprising in Syria in March, protesters have vigorously defended the unity of the country and denied the existence of tensions between the different communities. This is in stark contrast to the ruling regime, which has brandished the spectre of a civil war and warned of the country being partitioned along ethnic and religious lines.
Members of the opposition have accused Assad of stoking religious unrest by cracking down especially hard on Sunnis, and attempting to pit them against other minorities.
This sentiment is made particularly clear in the following video, shot in Homs on July 21. As the the minaret of the city’s al-Za’afran mosque is being bombed, shocked residents can be heard in the video speculating that Syrian forces targeted the mosque because it was Sunni. The video was posted on YouTube under the title The war that the Ba'athists and communitarian regime of Bachar al-Assad is waging against Islam.


"People are convinced that this was a deliberate attack on the Sunni community"

Majdi Amer is 45 years old. He is a teacher in Homs. His home is located less than 2km from the al-Za’afran mosque.
The bombardments started on a Wednesday night and lasted until Thursday evening. The shots were undoubtedly being fired from armoured vehicles belonging to the Syrian Army, which were stationed in the al-Qal’a citadel, in the centre of Homs. This is the highest point of the city and from here they were able to see all the districts of the city. The damage was considerable. All along Al-Wadi street (where the mosque is located), houses were destroyed, shops were vandalised, and cars were torched.
Because of the intensity of the shots being fired by the heavy weapons as well as the bombardments, I did not leave my house for the whole day. It was only in the evening, when we were about to go out to get food supplies, that we learned that the mosque had been bombed.
Personally, I don’t think that they deliberately targeted the mosque. It was more the result of blindly bombing the entire neighbourhood. But people here are convinced that it was a deliberate attack on the Sunni community. The Sunni neighbourhoods have been surrounded and there is no means of communication with the outside world. Security forces are everywhere. There are checkpoints in many streets. The Sunni community is living in fear. In the last few weeks, I would say that 70% of the residents have left Bab al-Siba’i and taken refuge with relatives in other neighbourhoods, in order to escape persecution and the arbitrary arrests. 
The regime is trying to fuel sectarian tensions by pitting Sunnis against Alawis. Recently, several Sunni families who were living in Alawi neighbourhoods were attacked and forced out of their homes. The businesses of Sunni shopkeepers were ransacked. These acts of aggression were carried out by the Chabbihas, Alawi militiamen who are dedicated to the cause of Bachar al-Assad.
The Sunni community is outraged but will not respond to these acts of provocation. This would detract attention from the real struggle, which is against Bachar al-Assad’s regime.
The regime is also manipulating the Christian community, for them not to support the protest movement. By brandishing the spectre of Sunni domination and an Islamic state, it hopes to frighten Christians into sticking by the governments. In Homes, certain influential Christian lawyers and doctors support the Assad regime.
But this is not the case of all Christians: fortunately, many do not co-operate with the authorities. I have seen young Christians spending Thursday night with their Muslim friends so that they can go and protest together after Friday prayers.”

The Al-Za’afran mosque after the bombing. Video posted on YouTube.

BBC journalist among dead in triple suicide bombing

BBC journalist among dead in triple suicide bombing
At least 17 people were killed when three suicide bombers and a group of gunmen launched a coordinated assault on government buildings in the restive southern province of Uruzgan on Thursday. The Taliban claimed responsibility.
By News Wires (text)
AFP - Triple suicide blasts and gun attacks killed 17 people including a local BBC reporter in an ongoing attack in the Afghan province of Uruzgan on Thursday, officials said.
The Taliban immediately claimed responsibility for the coordinated assault that began with suicide bombings on official buildings and a militia base in the provincial capital Trinkot.
It is the deadliest insurgent attack in Afghanistan for several weeks and comes after NATO-led forces symbolically handed over security control of seven areas in the war-torn country to Afghan troops.
"There are 17 killed and 37 people are wounded so far," said provincial health director Khan Agha Miakhail, adding that there were children among the dead and warning that the toll may rise.
The BBC said that one of its Afghan reporters, Omid Khpalwak, was among those killed.
Khpalwak also worked for Afghan news agency Pajhwok and its regional editor Javid Hamim Kakar confirmed his death.
"Yes. His brother confirmed that he died and his body is in the Uruzgan central hospital," Kakar told AFP.
One explosion happened just outside the gates of the deputy governor's office, which is next to the main hospital for Trinkot.
"There were two blasts at the deputy governor's office. One was detonated by a suicide bomber and the other was caused by an ANA (Afghan army) soldier shooting another suicide attacker," said army spokesman Hekmatullah Kuchi.
"The second suicide blast took place at Matiullah Khan's base, who is not wounded," said Kuchi, referring to a well-known militia commander in the area.
Public health ministry spokesman Kargar Noorughli told AFP that a policeman and a child had been among those killed in the suicide blast at the deputy governor's office.
An eyewitness who asked not to be named told AFP that five explosions were heard in the area.
"I saw two myself from our roof. One near Matiullah's (place) and the other by the government compound. There was shooting in the streets," she said.
The militia commander's base and the deputy governor's offices are about one kilometre (less than one mile) apart, said Kuchi. Earlier reports said the police chief's office had been targeted.
A spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force said it had sent reinforcements to the scene, including helicopters, to assist in quelling the assault.
Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi told AFP that the attackers were from the insurgent group, but denied killing the reporter, saying the police were responsible for his death.
"Seven of our volunteers have attacked the deputy governor's office and Matiullah's base," said Ahmadi.
Matiullah Khan commands around 2,000 fighters protecting NATO convoys along the highway that runs from Uruzgan to Kandahar city further south.
His uncle Jan Mohammad Khan, the former governor of Uruzgan and a close ally of President Hamid Karzai, was killed in a gun attack on his Kabul home nearly two weeks ago, five days after the president's half-brother was shot dead in Kandahar.
Matiullah Khan told AFP that the insurgents had attacked just outside his base, launching the assault from a neighbouring television station building.
He said two of his men had been wounded.
"I'm sitting right here in my base. I'm fine and healthy," said Khan.
Khan inherited his militia from his uncle when the latter left his role as governor, after being forced out over alleged ties to the drugs trade.
Experts say Jan Mohammed Khan, who hailed from a powerful family from the Popalzai tribe in the volatile southern region, had a reputation for brutality and double-dealing with tribal rivals, falsely accusing some of being Taliban.
The latest southern unrest comes at a critical juncture in the nearly 10-year war on Taliban-led insurgents, as thousands of US surge troops prepare to go home and other Western nations announce limited withdrawals of soldiers.
All foreign combat forces are due to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014 and last week a first tranche of handovers from NATO to Afghan forces took place in seven parts of the country.

Two French tourists found dead in northern Argentina

The bodies of two Frenchwomen who had been shot to death were found by hikers in northern Argentina's touristy Salta province, authorities said on Saturday. An investigation had been launched into the crimes, but no arrests have been made thus far.
By Siobhán SILKE (video)
News Wires (text)
AFP - Two French female tourists were shot to death in northern Argentina, where they were found by local hikers, authorities said Saturday.
"They are two Frenchwomen, found shot to death in a touristy area of Salta province," Judge Martin Perez told TN television.
The bodies of the women, both 30, were spotted Friday by hikers near San Lorenzo hill, west of the provincial capital, the judge said. The hiking area popular with tourists leads to an observation point offering a panoramic view of the city and surrounding area.
"Salta needs to clear up this appalling crime immediately," Governor Juan Manuel Uturbey said at a press conference at his office.
Uturbey said the victims' identities were known but he did not immediately announce them, though police sources told El Tribuno de Salta newspaper the women were Houria Moumni and Cassandre Bouvier.
The French foreign ministry said it wanted "the crimes solved, and for those who are responsible to be identified and tried."
One was shot in the head and apparently sexually abused, her clothes torn, and the other was shot in the back, the judge said.
No arrests have been made and authorities have launched an investigation.
The women had arrived in Salta on July 11 and planned to stay through July 19, police said. They were last seen at their hotel, where they had left their backpacks, on July 16.
"There is a lapse of several days where there was no sign of what their activities were," said Marcelo Baez, a justice spokesman in Salta.
"Police are trying to put together the pieces. What is clear is that they were brutally murdered."

Dozens killed in Yemen clashes

Dozens killed in Yemen clashes
At least 42 people have been killed during clashes between soldiers and suspected Islamist militants in the restive southern city of Zinjibar, according to local sources and Yemen's military.
By News Wires (text)
AFP - At least 42 people have died in violence near Yemen's southern city of Zinjibar, most of which has fallen under the control of suspected Al-Qaeda militants, military and local sources said on Saturday.
Eleven people including top officers were killed in fierce clashes between the army and militants in Dofas, a village 15 kilometres (nine miles) south of Abyan's provincial capital of Zinjibar, they said.
"Al-Qaeda elements stationed in Dofas attacked army units there using machine-guns on Friday, killing two officers and four soldiers, and wounding nine others," a military official in the village told AFP.
Medics at a military hospital in the southern port city of Aden confirmed the casualty toll.
A local official in Dofas said five members of the Islamist network were also killed and four wounded in the attack.
Also on Friday, an air raid and clashes with militants left 29 tribesmen killed and dozens wounded in eastern Zinjibar, tribal sources said, adding that several others went missing.
Twelve of the tribesmen were killed and 20 others wounded in clashes with the militants, a top security official in the area told AFP.
"Around 200 tribesmen came from the (coastal) village of Shaqra heading towards Zinjibar when they clashed with Al-Qaeda elements" on the city's outskirts, Abdullah Naser al-Jadani said.
Tribal sources said the militants forced the tribesmen into a government building seized by the network, prompting the army to launch an air raid.
Jadani said three tribesmen were "mistakenly" killed in the air strike while another nine were shot dead by Al-Qaeda militants.
Later on Saturday, tribal sources said 17 other bodies were retrieved from the rubble of the building targeted by three air raids, accusing the army of having carried out a "massacre" which cost the lives of 29 tribesmen.
However, Jadani insisted that the raids targeted "Al-Qaeda fighters and not civilians."
A medic at a hospital in the town of Jaar, controlled by the militants, said two Al-Qaeda militants were killed and 14 wounded in the clashes and air strikes.
Militants belonging to the "Partisans of Sharia" (Islamic law), which is suspected of links to Al-Qaeda, seized control of much of Zinjibar in May. Thousands of residents have since been displaced by fighting.
Deputy Information Minister Abdo al-Janadi said last week that the United States had provided logistical support to Yemen's 25th Mechanised Brigade, which had been besieged by the militants in Zinjibar.
US commanders have repeatedly expressed concern that the jihadists have been taking advantage of a protracted power vacuum in Sanaa to expand their operations.
Since January, protesters have been demanding the ouster of veteran President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in hospital in Saudi Arabia since early June being treated for wounds sustained in a bomb blast at his palace.

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