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Car bomb attack kills at least eight in Somalia, officials say

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(Last Updated On: November 25, 2021)

At least eight people were killed in Somalia’s capital on Thursday when Islamist militants launched a suicide attack on a U.N. security convoy using a vehicle laden with explosives, officials and witnesses said.

The Islamist group al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the huge blast which rocked Modadishu and injured at least 23 people, including school students, sending a column of smoke above the city. Gunfire echoed around the scene, witnesses said.

It was not immediately clear if any U.N. personnel were among those killed or injured in the huge blast, which targeted the U.N. convoy as it passed near the site of a school, Reuters reported.

U.N. officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“We counted eight dead people and 17 others including 13 students injured,” police spokesman Abdifatah Aden Hassan told reporters. He said a suicide bomber in an SUV full of explosives had targeted a U.N. security convoy.

Aamin Ambulance service evacuated at least 23 people who were injured in the blast, Abdikadir Abdirahman, the director of the service, told Reuters.

Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab’s military operations spokesman, confirmed the Islamist group’s operatives had carried out the attack and said they were targeting a U.N. convoy.

The blast near the K4 junction in the heart of Mogadishu was so large that walls of the nearby Mucassar primary and secondary school collapsed. Cars were mangled in the explosion.

“We were shaken by the blast pressure, then deafened by the gunfire that followed,” said Mohamed Hussein, a nurse at the nearby Osman Hospital, saying he had been pulled from the rubble of a collapsed ceiling.

“Our hospital walls collapsed. Opposite us is a school that also collapsed. I do not know how many died,” he said.

Al Shabaab has been fighting Somalia’s central government for years, seeking to take power and impose its strict interpretation of Islam’s sharia law.

The group frequently carries out bombings and gun assaults in Somalia and elsewhere in its war against the Somalia military and the African Union-mandated AMISOM force that helps protect the government.

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Pakistan receives $3 billion loan from Saudi Arabia

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(Last Updated On: December 5, 2021)

Pakistan on Saturday received a $3 billion loan from Saudi Arabia, the prime minister’s finance adviser said, as part of an economic support package.

The South Asian country has faced growing economic challenges, with high inflation, sliding forex reserves, a widening current account deficit and a depreciating currency, Reuters reported.

Pakistan’s total liquid foreign reserves stand at $22,498.8 million, based on central bank data.

Shaukat Tarin, finance adviser to Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan, said in a tweet: “I want to thank His Excellency Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the kind gesture.”

The loan from Saudi Arabia will be for one year at a 4% interest rate under the terms of the package, which was signed last month, Reuters reported.

“This is positive news … and will help bolster both the foreign exchange reserves and sentiments in the forex market,” Saad Hashemy, executive director at BMA Capital said.

The loan comes a week after the International Monetary Fund agreed with Pakistan on measures needed to revive a stalled $6 billion funding program.

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Uzbekistan’s Samarkand city named 2023 World Tourism Capital

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(Last Updated On: December 5, 2021)

Uzbekistan’s historic city of Samarkand was chosen as the 2023 World Tourism Capital at the 24th General Assembly of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in Spain, Uzbekistan’s Tourism and Sports Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

Samarkand will host the 25th General Assembly of the UNWTO, which will be a “historic event” as it marks the first time in history that the gathering will be held in Uzbekistan, read the statement.

The summit in Madrid was attended by a delegation led by Uzbekistan’s Tourism and Sports Minister Aziz Abdukhakimov, who is also the country’s deputy prime minister.

The opportunity to host a UN organization meeting for the first time is the result of the Uzbek government’s policies and efforts to develop tourism in the country, the statement added.

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Russia, Southeast Asia conclude first joint naval exercise

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(Last Updated On: December 4, 2021)

Russia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have concluded their first joint naval exercise, Indonesia’s navy said on Saturday, as the region faces rising tensions with China.

The three-day exercise off the coast of Indonesia’s Sumatra island aimed at increasing interoperability between the ASEAN member states and the Russian navy in the strategic maritime area. It comes amid rising tensions between major powers in the South China Sea, a resource-rich waterway of geopolitical significance, Reuters reported.

“The exercise has a strategic impact because it was designed to cultivate friendships between the Indonesian government, ASEAN countries and Russia,” the navy said.

The two-stage drills involved eight warships and four aircraft from Russia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and Brunei.

Aleksei Bolotnikov, commander of the Russian warship Admiral Panteleyev, was quoted as saying he hoped the next ASEAN-Russia exercise could take place in Vladivostok, Reuters reported.

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