Aleppo Syria: Car Bomb Kills Dozens Of Shiite Waiting Outside Buses Trying To Evacuate

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS NEWS AGENCY)

By John Davison | BEIRUT

A bomb blast hit a bus convoy waiting to cross into government-held Aleppo in Syria on Saturday, killing and wounding dozens of people evacuated from two Shi’ite villages the day before in a deal between warring sides.

The agreement had stalled, leaving thousands of people from both government-besieged and rebel-besieged areas stranded at two transit points on the city’s outskirts, before the explosion occurred.

Pro-Damascus media outlets said a suicide attacker detonated a car bomb and killed at least 22 people. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the death toll was at least 24.

Footage on state TV showed bodies lying next to charred buses with their windows blown out, and vehicles in flames.

The blast hit buses in the Rashidin area on Aleppo’s outskirts. The vehicles had been waiting since Friday to cross from rebel-held territory into the government-controlled city itself.

The convoy was carrying residents and pro-government fighters from the rebel-besieged Shi’ite villages of al-Foua and Kefraya in nearby Idlib province.

They had left under a deal where, in exchange, hundreds of Sunni insurgents and their families were granted safe passage from Madaya, a government-besieged town near Damascus.

But a delay in the agreement had left all those evacuated stuck at transit points on Aleppo’s outskirts since late on Friday.

Residents of al-Foua and Kefraya were waiting in the Rashidin area.

The rebels and residents of Madaya, near Damascus, were waiting at the government-held Ramousah bus garage, a few miles away. They were to be transported to the opposition stronghold of Idlib province.

Still image shows a cloud of black smoke rising from vehicles in the distance in what is said to be Aleppo’s outskirts, Syria April 15, 2017. Social Media Website via Reuters TV

People waiting in the Ramousah garage heard the blast, and said they feared revenge attacks by pro-government forces. They circulated a statement on social media imploring “international organizations” to intervene so the situation did not escalate.

The evacuation deal is one of several over recent months that has seen President Bashar al-Assad’s government take back control of areas long besieged by his forces and their allies.

The deals are unpopular with the Syrian opposition, who say they amount to forced displacement of Assad’s opponents from Syria’s main urban centers in the west of the country.

They are also causing demographic changes because those who are displaced are usually Sunni Muslims, like most of the opposition. Assad is from the minority Alawite sect and is supported by Shi’ite regional allies.

It was unclear who carried out Saturday’s bombing attack.

The exact reasons for the delay in completing the evacuation deal were also unclear.

The Observatory said the delay was caused by the fact that rebels from Zabadani, another town near Damascus included in the deal, had not yet been granted safe passage out.

‘FORCED DISPLACEMENT’

A pro-opposition activist said insurgents blamed the delay partly on the fact that a smaller number of pro-government fighters had left the Shi’ite villages than was agreed.

Earlier on Saturday, at the transit point where the buses from al-Foua and Kefraya were waiting, one resident said he was not yet sure where he would live.

“After Aleppo I’ll see what the rest of the group is doing, if there are any preparations. My house, land and belongings are all in al-Foua,” Mehdi Tahhan said.

A Madaya resident, speaking from the bus garage inside Aleppo, said people had been waiting there since late on Friday, and were not being allowed to leave.

“There’s no drinking water or food. The bus garage is small so there’s not much space to move around,” Ahmed, 24, said.

“We’re sad and angry about what has happened,” he said. Many people felt that they had been forced to leave,” he said.

“There was no other choice in the end – we were besieged inside a small area in Madaya.”

Other evacuation deals in recent months have included areas of Aleppo and a district in the city of Homs.

Syria’s population is mostly Sunni. Assad’s Alawite religious minority is often considered an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam.

He has been backed militarily by Russia, and by Shi’ite fighters from Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah group in Syria’s six-year-old conflict.

Assad has the military advantage over rebels in the west thanks to Russia’s intervention in 2015, although the insurgents are still fighting back and have made gains in some areas.

(Editing by Andrew Bolton)

Mogadishu Somalia: Car Bomb Rips Apart Open Air Market: 18 Dead And 25 Injured

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS)

By Feisal Omar | MOGADISHU

A blast from a suicide car bomb ripped through a market in Somali capital Mogadishu on Sunday, killing 18 people and wounding at least 25, a local official said, days after the country elected a new president.

Casualties were confirmed by Ahmed Abdulle Afrax, the mayor of Wadajir, the district of the city where the bombing happened.

“I was staying in my shop when a car came in into the market and exploded. I saw more than 20 people lying on the ground. Most of them were dead and the market was totally destroyed,” witness Abdulle Omar said.

Al Shabaab, the Islamist insurgent group that is fighting the U.N.-backed Somali government, did not immediately claim responsibility.

Al Shabaab has been able to carry out increasingly deadly bombings despite losing most of its territory in the country to African Union peacekeepers supporting Somali government.

This month, Somalia elected a new president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed. The dual U.S.-Somali citizen and former prime minister is better known by his nickname, “Farmajo”.

The Horn of Africa country has been torn apart by civil war since 1991. Aid agencies are warning that a severe drought has placed large swathes of the country at risk of famine.

(Writing by Katharine Houreld; editing by Jane Merriman)

In The Name Of God We Kill You And Your Families!—Really, In The Name Of God?

 

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR NEWS)

Dozens Dead In Multiple ISIS Bombings Across Baghdad

Bystanders inspect the scene after a car bomb explosion at a crowded outdoor market in the Iraqi capital’s eastern district of Sadr City on Monday.

Karim Kadim/AP

Dozens are dead in Baghdad after bombs were detonated across the city on Monday. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the bombings.

The death toll from the attacks is still climbing.

NPR’s Alice Fordham reported on the bombings, telling our Newscast Unit:

The first attack came in Sadr City on the edge of Baghdad, still reeling from a bombing on Saturday. The bomber pretended to be recruiting casual laborers for the day, so those killed were mainly poor manual workers. The next ones came at roughly the same time near two hospitals in the city, followed by three bombs in the poor Shaab area of the city.

The BBC reported that at least 35 people were killed and at least 61 injured by the blast in Sadr City, which is a “predominantly Shia Muslim” neighborhood. The BBC wrote: “The Sunni jihadist group Islamic State said it had carried out the attack, which ‘targeted a gathering of Shia.’ ”

Reuters reported that “nine of the victims were women in a passing minibus.” The news service wrote: “Their charred bodies were visible inside the burnt-out remains of the vehicle. Blood stained the ground nearby.”

The attacks followed other bombings in the city on Saturday, which killed 28 people, according to the BBC. Reuters wrote also wrote that “an attack near the southern city of Najaf on Sunday left seven policemen dead.”

Monday’s attacks coincide with an Iraq visit by French President Francois Hollande. Hollande gave a press conference with Iraqi prime minister Haider al Abadi, vowing to defeat ISIS.

“The terrorists will attempt to attack civilians in order to make up for their losses, but we assure the Iraqi people and the world that we are able to end terrorism and shorten its life,” Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said, according to the BBC.

The ISIS bombings come as Iraqi security forces continue their offensive to push the self-proclaimed caliphate from the country. The U.S.-supported offensive was launched in mid-October, as the Two-Way reported, and has recaptured part of the city of Mosul, the terrorist group’s last major stronghold in Iraq.

According to Reuters, “Abadi has said the group will be driven out of the country by April.”

Turkey: Twin Bombs Outside Istanbul Football Stadium Kill Dozens

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES NEWS)

Turkey: Twin explosions outside football stadium kill 29 in Istanbul

WORLD Updated: Dec 11, 2016 07:51 IST

AFP

Highlight Story

Smoke rises from a car after a blast in Istanbul, Turkey. (Reuters Photo)

Twenty nine people were killed — mainly police officers — and 166 wounded in double bombings that struck Istanbul on Saturday after a home football match hosted by top side Besiktas, Turkish interior minister Suleyman Soylu said.Twenty-seven of those killed were police and two were civilians, he told reporters in Istanbul, adding that 10 suspects had already been detained over the bombing.

A car bomb detonated outside the Vodafone Arena football stadium on the shores of the Bosphorus after the Super Lig match between Besiktas and Bursaspor while a suicide attacker struck a nearby park, officials said.

The authorities did not say who was behind the blasts but the attacks were the latest in a year that has seen Istanbul and other Turkish cities rocked by a string of attacks blamed on Islamic State jihadists and Kurdish militants.

The health ministry said in a statement that 15 people were killed and 69 wounded.

“An act of terror targeted our security forces and citizens at Besiktas tonight,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a statement. Besiktas is also the name of the neighbourhood around club’s arena.

Erdogan said the blasts shortly after the end of the match sought to cause maximum loss of life.

“We have witnessed once more here in Istanbul the ugly face of terror which tramples down any form of value and morals,” he said.

Interior minister Suleyman Soylu said one blast took place outside the stadium and another at Macka Park, a popular meeting place just above the sports venue.

“The explosion at Macka Park is believed to have been carried out by a suicide bomber.”

He said the stadium attack targeted a bus of riot police.

‘We will stand firm’

State broadcaster TRT showed images of the wreckage of a car, engulfed in flames with emergency services swarming around the scene outside the sports venue.

Other footage showed severely damaged police vehicles, while witnesses said the force of the blast had shattered the windows of several nearby homes.

An AFP correspondent near the stadium saw ambulances gathering in the aftermath of the explosion, as well as broken glass on the road.

“I heard two explosions in less than one minute, followed by the sound of gunshots,” one witness told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Police and ambulances arrive the scene after a blast in Istanbul. (Reuters Photo)

Besiktas football club issued a statement condemning the attack and confirming none of the fans or players were hurt.

“Terrorists… attacked our heroic security forces who ensure that both our fans and Bursaspor’s supporters are safe. We will stand firm against the vile attackers who will never achieve their goal.”

Police cordoned off the area around the stadium immediately after the blasts, which occurred near the Ottoman-era Dolmabahce palace that houses Prime Minister Binali Yildirim’s offices in Istanbul.

The scene is also about a kilometre (0.6 miles) from the busy Taksim Square, a magnet for tourists.

Erdogan was in Istanbul at the time of the blast at his residence in the suburb of Tarabya further down the Bosphorus, state media said.

The government slapped a broadcast ban on footage of the attack, as is becoming typical in the aftermath of major incidents in the country.

‘We will defeat terror’

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Saturday’s attack.

In his statement, Erdogan said that “the name or the method of the terrorist organisation which perpetrated the vile attack” did not matter.

“Nobody should doubt that we will defeat terror, terror groups, terrorists and of course the forces behind them, with God’s help,” he said.

In June, 47 people were killed in a triple suicide bombing and gun attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, with authorities blaming IS.

Another 57 people, 34 of them children, were killed in August in a suicide attack by an IS-linked bomber at a Kurdish wedding in the southeastern city of Gaziantep.

But there have also been deadly bombings claimed by the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), seen as a splinter group of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

The US embassy in Turkey condemned the latest attack.

“Our hearts and prayers are with the people of #Istanbul tonight,” the embassy wrote on Twitter. “We condemn tonight’s cowardly attack, and salute the courage of the Turkish people as we stand with them against terror.”

Turkey is still reeling from a failed July 15 coup blamed by the government on the US-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen that has been followed by a relentless purge of his alleged supporters from state institutions.

Saturday’s attack came after the Turkish army and its Syrian rebel allies on Saturday entered the IS bastion of Al-Bab in northern Syria, according to a monitoring group.

Wounded police officers are helped after a blast in Istanbul, Turkey. (Reuters Photo)

Al-Bab is the last bastion IS has in Syria’s northern Aleppo province.

The explosions also came hours after Turkey’s ruling party submitted a parliamentary bill that would expand the powers — and possibly the tenure — of Erdogan, a move his opponents fear will lead to one-man rule.

Police Chief Drives Stolen Car Around City For 3 Day’s Unnoticed By Cameras Or Officers

(This article is courtesy of the Ankara Turkey Sabah Daily News Paper)

Mahmut Karaaslan, the new police chief of Turkish capital Ankara who started his duty following the deadly car bombing on March 13 that killed 35 civilians, drove around the city unnoticed for three days with license plates belonging to stolen cars to test the city’s surveillance cameras and license plate recognition system.

According to an article of Turkish daily Sözcü, Karaaslan drove in the city’s main arteries and streets monitored by 1,400 surveillance cameras for three days in a row. 41 different license plates sought by the police were tried on the car driven by Karaaslan, all going unnoticed by the city license plate recognition system installed in 513 different places around the city. The police chief also went unnoticed in police checkpoints in different parts of the city.

Karaaslan warned related police commissioners regarding his inspection, and asked necessary measures to be taken. The article stated that the recognition system didn’t detect license plates with seizure orders or duplicated plates as it slowed the whole system down.

With its increasing involvement in the civil war in Syria and the anti-Daesh campaign in Iraq, the PKK started adopting new tactics in its armed insurgency against the Turkish state, which includes car bombings and erecting explosive-laden barricades in urban areas. The car bombing attack carried out on February 17 that killed 29 people in Ankara was carried out by a stolen car by a terrorist from hardliner PKK group named TAK, who was trained by the PKK’s Syrian offshoot YPG.

Another car bombing was carried out by PKK terrorists killed 35 civilians in Ankara on March 13.

The Turkish capital was also targeted by a twin suicide bombing carried out by the Daesh (ISIS) terror organization on Oct. 10, 2015, killing 103 people in a peace rally.