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Ten killed in suicide bomb attack in Somali capital

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Reuters
(Last Updated On: April 4, 2021)

At least 10 people were killed on Saturday when a suicide bomber struck makeshift kiosks in the Somali capital, hitting hours after al Shabaab Islamist militants attacked two National Army bases outside the city, the government said.

“A suicide bomber blew up himself under trees where poor mothers sold tea, milk and (narcotic leaf) khat,” Information Ministry spokesman Ismail Mukhtar Omar told Reuters, adding that more people were wounded in the attack.

There was no immediate comment from the al Shabaab, which had earlier claimed responsibility for the attacks on the Bariire and Awdhigle army bases.

The army said earlier that there had been casualties on both sides in those attacks, but it was now in control.

The bases, located about 100 km (60 miles) southwest of Mogadishu, were struck by two explosions, witnesses said. A third explosion targeted a convoy of troops rushing to the bases from the capital after the attack, they added.

Militants from al Shabaab, which is linked to al-Qaeda, have waged years of attacks and levied tolls on trade in a campaign to introduce strict religious law.

Saturday’s attacks come amid heightened fears that the group could seek to exploit vulnerabilities created by failure to hold a parliamentary and presidential election, which was due in February.

Hussein Nur, a military officer, said the army lost “several” soldiers in the attack on the bases, without giving a precise number.

The army sent in reinforcements from other stations, who killed an unidentified number of attackers in the ensuing fight, he told Reuters.

The army had taken control of both bases and the surrounding area and “We are pursuing the militants in the surrounding jungle”, he said.

Al Shabaab said it had launched a vehicle-borne suicide bomb attack on the Bariire base while simultaneously attacking the nearby Awdhigle base with a car bomb and fighters, to prevent troops stationed there from reinforcing Bariire.

“We overran Bariire base, burnt three military vehicles and took two vehicles,” Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab’s spokesman for military operations, told Reuters, referring to a brief occupation of Bariire.

A third vehicle-borne explosive device hit a convoy of government troops racing from Mogadishu with reinforcements, he said. He also said there had been casualties on both sides in the attacks.

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Taliban warns foreign forces to leave by May 1

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(Last Updated On: April 14, 2021)

Taliban on Wednesday afternoon warned the US and NATO to stick to the agreement of troops withdrawal on May 1 and said if the Doha agreement is not adhered to problems will be “compounded” and those in breach of the deal will “be held liable”.

In a series of tweets, Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said: “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan seeks the withdrawal of all foreign forces from our homeland on the date specified in the Doha Agreement.

“If the agreement is adhered to, a pathway to addressing the remaining issues will also be found.

“If the agreement is breached and foreign forces fail to exit our country on the specified date, problems will certainly be compounded and those whom failed to comply with the agreement will be held liable.”

This comes ahead of an expected official announcement by US President Joe Biden that troops with be pulled out by September 11 – the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meanwhile said in Brussels on Wednesday that the coalition of NATO-led troops in Afghanistan will leave the country in coordination with a planned U.S. withdrawal by September 11.

Blinken said it was time for NATO allies to make good on its mantra that allies went into Afghanistan together and would leave together.

“I am here to work closely with our allies, with the (NATO) secretary-general, on the principle that we have established from the start: In together, adapt together and out together,” Blinken said in a televised statement at NATO headquarters.

“We will work very closely together in the months ahead on a safe, deliberate and coordinated withdrawal of our forces from Afghanistan,” Blinken said, standing alongside NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg,

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Austin arrives in Brussels ahead of troop withdrawal announcement

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(Last Updated On: April 14, 2021)

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in Brussels on Wednesday ahead of a planned announcement by US President Joe Biden that troops will withdraw from Afghanistan by September 11.

Reuters reported earlier that a coalition of NATO-led troops in Afghanistan will leave the country in coordination with a planned U.S. withdrawal by September 11. President Joe Biden is expected to make a formal announcement later Wednesday that will end two decades of fighting.

Around 7,000 non-U.S. forces from mainly NATO countries, but also from Australia, New Zealand and Georgia, outnumber the 2,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan but still rely on U.S. air support, planning and leadership for their training mission.

NATO foreign and defense ministers will discuss their plans later on Wednesday via video conference. A senior NATO diplomat told Reuters that no ally was expected to oppose U.S. President Joe Biden’s formal announcement.

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NATO forces to leave together from Afghanistan: Blinken

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(Last Updated On: April 14, 2021)

A coalition of NATO-led troops in Afghanistan will leave the country in coordination with a planned U.S. withdrawal by September 11, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in Brussels on Wednesday.

His remarks came ahead of a formal announcement of the end of two decades of fighting.

Around 7,000 non-U.S. forces from mainly NATO countries, but also from Australia, New Zealand and Georgia, outnumber the 2,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan but still rely on U.S. air support, planning and leadership for their training mission, Reuters reported.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in Brussels that it was time for NATO allies to make good on its mantra that allies went into Afghanistan together and would leave together.

“I am here to work closely with our allies, with the (NATO) secretary-general, on the principle that we have established from the start: In together, adapt together and out together,” Blinken said in a televised statement at NATO headquarters.

“We will work very closely together in the months ahead on a safe, deliberate and coordinated withdrawal of our forces from Afghanistan,” Blinken said, standing alongside NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg,

NATO foreign and defence ministers will discuss their plans later on Wednesday via video conference. A senior NATO diplomat told Reuters that no ally was expected to oppose U.S. President Joe Biden’s formal announcement, expected later on Wednesday, for a complete U.S. withdrawal of troops by Sept. 11.

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