TIME Somalia

Police: Bomb Explodes Inside Bus of U.N. Employees in Somalia

A bomb ripped through a bus carrying U.N. employees in Puntland, a semiautonomous region in northern Somalia that has been relatively free of violence

(MOGADISHU) — A bomb blast early Monday ripped through a bus carrying U.N. employees in Puntland, a semiautonomous region in northern Somalia that has been relatively free of violence, according to a Somali police official.

The bombing took place in Garowe, the regional capital of Puntland, but there was no information yet on casualties, said Yusuf Ali.

The bomb was apparently planted under a seat and was detonated by remote control, according to Ali.

No group immediately claimed the responsibility for the attack.

Bomb attacks are not common in the northern parts of Somalia, unlike in the south where al-Shabab militants are waging a deadly war against the Somali government and the African Union forces bolstering it.

Last week at least 10 people were killed in an assault on the offices of Somalia’s education ministry.

Despite losing a lot of ground in recent times and losing top leaders in airstrikes, al-Shabab militants are still able to launch attacks in different parts of Somalia and even across the border, especially in Kenya.

The al-Qaida-linked armed group claimed responsibility for an attack ealier this month at a university campus in northeastern Kenya in which militants killed 148 people, most of them students.

TIME Kenya

Al-Shabaab Says Kenyan Cities Will Run ‘Red With Blood’

Attack on Kenya's Garissa University College
Anadolu Agency—Getty Images Security forces guard after Al-Shabaab terrorists shot the students' way into Garissa University College, at least 147 students were killed and 79 injured, in Nairobi, Kenya, on April 2.

"No amount of precaution or safety measures will be able to guarantee your safety"

The Somali terror group behind Thursday’s deadly assault on a Kenyan college campus threatened a “long, gruesome war” against the country, according to a media report on Saturday.

Reuters reports that it received an emailed statement from al-Shabaab that said Kenya’s cities would run “red with blood.”

In a televised speech on Saturday, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said Kenya would “do everything to defend our way of life,” and vowed not to allow al-Shabaab to create an Islamic caliphate in Kenya, according to Reuters. The President also declared three days of national mourning.

Early Thursday morning, assailants armed with guns and grenades attacked the Garissa University College Campus, targeting Christian students and killing at least 148 people, mostly students, with the death toll expected to rise. Kenyan officials said they found one survivor on the campus on Saturday.

The Somali-based al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack, and in the statement to Reuters said it was in retribution for Kenya’s participation in the African Union-led fight against the group in Somalia and for mistreatment of Muslims in Kenya. The group was also responsible for the siege of an upscale shopping mall in Nairobi that left 67 people dead.

“No amount of precaution or safety measures will be able to guarantee your safety, thwart another attack or prevent another bloodbath from occurring in your cities,” the group said, according to Reuters. “This will be a long, gruesome war of which you, the Kenyan public, are its first casualties.”

[Reuters]

TIME Kenya

Mourning Turns to Anger in Kenya After College Massacre

Kenya's National Assembly majority leader Aden Duale delivers a speech during a rally in Garissa, Kenya, on April 3, 2015. More than one thousand local residents attended the rally to emphasis security and condemn terrorist activities.
Sun RuiboXinhua/Landov Kenya's National Assembly majority leader Aden Duale delivers a speech during a rally in Garissa, Kenya, on April 3, 2015. More than one thousand local residents attended the rally to emphasis security and condemn terrorist activities.

The death toll is expected to rise

Hundreds joined a protest in the Kenyan town of Garissa against the Islamist group al-Shabaab on Friday, a day after the militants from neighboring Somalia stormed a nearby college campus and killed at least 147 people.

The assault has rocked the nation and also raised questions about security measures after multiple warnings of a potential terror attack were raised in the days prior.

“It’s because of laxity by the government that these things are happening. For something like this to happen when there are those rumors is unacceptable,” Mohamed Salat, a Somali Kenyan businessman, told Reuters.

Early Thursday, assailants armed with guns and grenades attacked the Garissa University College Campus, targeting Christian students and killing nearly 150 people, mostly students, with the death toll expected to rise.

The al-Shabaab terror group claimed responsibility for the attack, its latest in a series of assaults that it says are in retribution for Kenya’s participation in the African Union-led fight against the group in Somalia.

On Friday, President Barack Obama said he spoke with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and said he still plans to visit Kenya in July, a trip the White House announced earlier this week.

[Reuters]

TIME Kenya

Christians Hunted Down as al-Shabab Kill 147 in Kenya

Students evacuated from Garissa University listen to an address by Interior Minister for Security Joseph Ole Nkaissery before they are transported to their home regions from a holding area on April 3, 2015.
Carl de Souza—AFP/Getty Images Students evacuated from Garissa University College listen to an address by Interior Minister for Security Joseph Ole Nkaissery before they are transported to their home regions from a holding area on April 3, 2015.

“If you were a Christian you were shot on the spot. With each blast of the gun I thought I was going to die”

At least 147 people have been killed and 79 wounded in the Thursday’s attack on a Kenya university, according to the Kenya National Disaster Operation Centre. The centre says security forces have rescued more than 500 students from the Garissa University College campus but fighting is still going on.

For the past two weeks intelligence agencies in both Uganda and Kenya have issued warnings of possible terrorist attacks by the Islamist group al-Shabaab. The alerts urged caution about going to venues popular with westerners in Kampala, and vigilance around major infrastructure projects or universities in Kenya. Those warnings bore fruit just before dawn on Thursday as masked militants stormed a university dormitory complex in the Kenyan town of Garissa, launching grenades and firing guns.

President Uhuru Kenyatta released a statement urging Kenyans to “stay calm as we resolve this matter,” and extended his condolences “to the families of those who have perished.” He begged Kenyans to “provide the authorities with any information they may have in connection with any threats to our security” while announcing that the government had commenced the “appropriate deployment” of security forces. Reports from Garissa show that Kenyan tanks are heading to the sealed off university area, and that the militants have gathered on the roof, preparing for a violent showdown even as hostages huddle inside.

Earlier on Thursday, student Collins Wetangula told the Associated Press that when the militants stormed his dorm, he could hear them demanding if residents were Muslim or Christian. “If you were a Christian you were shot on the spot. With each blast of the gun I thought I was going to die.”

“All I could hear were footsteps and gunshots nobody was screaming because they thought this would lead the gunmen to know where they are,” he said. “The gunmen were saying sisi ni al-Shabab (Swaihi for we are al-Shabaab).”

Al-Shabaab, which means “the Youth,” got its start in Somalia as the militant youth wing of an Islamist government that was defeated in 2006. With fighters numbering around 8,000, including several foreign recruits, it soon regained territory in southern Somalia. Al-Shabaab even held the capital, Mogadishu, until a U.N. backed national government forced it out in 2011 with the help of African Union forces. Reeling from a loss of terrain and resources, the group started launching raids and kidnappings across the border in Kenya in search of income. Kenya responded by sending troops, which engendered more retaliatory attacks. In 2012, al-Shabaab pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda, and the effectiveness of its attacks increased as a result.

Al Shabaab, which brutally enforces a strict interpretation of fundamentalist Islam, still controls large swaths in the rural south of Somalia where it promises security in exchange for protection from the lawlessness that has afflicted the country for more than two decades. But as African Union forces and U.N. peacekeepers squeeze al-Shabaab from territory it once claimed, the group has lashed out with increasingly sophisticated terror attacks. Neighbors Uganda and Kenya, whose governments contribute troops to the U.N. and African Union military missions in Somalia, have borne the brunt of their anger. The Garissa raid is but the latest in a string of devastating terror attacks that have rocked Kenya since the 2013 assault on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall, which killed 67. Uganda, too, has been targeted: on Tuesday suspected al-Shabaab gunmen on a motorbike shot and killed the Ugandan prosecutor presiding over the trial of 13 men implicated in a 2010 twin suicide bombing claimed by al-Shabaab. After each major attack claimed by the group, a spokesman invariably states that the assaults are revenge for that country’s military adventures in Somalia. The Garissa attacks are unlikely to be any different.

TIME National Security

Al-Shabab Leader Killed in Drone Strike

Adan Garar is believed to have masterminded the 2013 Westgate Mall massacre in Nairobi

An American drone strike has killed a leader of Somali militant group al-Shabab, the Pentagon confirmed Wednesday.

Adan Garar was hit by a drone missile near the town of Diinsoor, southern Somalia, on March 12, according to the U.S. Defense Department.

Garar is believed to be behind the 2013 attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi that killed 67 people.

The U.S. describes Garar as “a key operative” who was “responsible for coordinating al-Shabab’s external operations, which target U.S. persons and other Western interests.”

The Pentagon believes he “posed a major threat to the region and international community.”

Just hours before Garar’s death was confirmed, al-Shabab, a militant Islamist organization, attacked a shop in the Kenyan town of Wajir, killing four people.

TIME Somalia

Islamist Extremist Leader Surrenders in Somalia

Somalia Extremist Leader Surrenders
Farah Abdi Warsameh—AP In this Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011 file photo, hundreds of newly trained al-Shabab fighters perform military exercises in the Lafofe area some 18km south of Mogadishu, in Somalia. A Somali intelligence official says Zakariya Ismail Ahmed Hersi, a leader with the Islamic extremist group al-Shabab who has a $3 million bounty on his head, has surrendered to police in Somalia.

Zakariya Ismail Ahmed Hersi turned himself into Somali police, an intelligence official said

A leader from the Islamist extremist group al-Shabab has reportedly surrendered to Somali police.

Zakariya Ismail Ahmed Hersi was one of eight leaders of the extremist group that has been on the Obama Administration’s wanted list since 2012, according to the Associated Press. A total of $33 million was offered in exchange for information that could lead to their capture. There was a $3 million bounty out on Hersi.

The leader’s surrender comes just days after an attack by al-Shabab Christmas Day on an African Union base in Mogadishu killed nine people, including three African Union soldiers. That attack was allegedly in retaliation for the killing of Ahmed Abdi Godane, al-Shabab’s former top leader.

An intelligence official told the AP that Hersi may have surrendered because he had fallen out with al-Shabab extremists loyal to Godane.

[AP]

TIME Photojournalism Links

Photojournalism Daily: Dec. 5, 2014

Today’s daily Photojournalism Links collection highlights Andrew Quilty‘s work on Pakistani refugees in Afghanistan. Some 100,000 civilians fled the Pakistani military’s offensive against insurgents in North Waziristan this past summer by seeking shelter across the border in Afghanistan. More than 3,000 families ended up at the Gulan Refugee Camp in Gurbuz District in Khost, only to find out another danger was lurking underneath their feet. It turned out the camp is located above a decades old minefield from the time muhajideen were fighting the Russians. Quilty’s compelling photographs capture these unfortunate refugees haunted by weapons of an old war.


Andrew Quilty: Finding Refuge on a Mine Field (Foreign Policy)

William Daniels: Fighting Over the Spoils of War in Central African Republic (Al Jazeera America) These photographs show how natural riches play a part in the conflict often seen purely in ethnic terms | Part of a series of posts on Central African Republic.

Best Photos of the Year 2014 (Reuters)

War’s effect on peace is examined in new Tate show (Phaidon) Tate Modern curator Shoair Mavlian talks about the new exhibition Conflict, Time, Photography.

Elena Chernyshova (Verve Photo) The World Press Photo award-winning Russian photographer writes about one of her photographs from Norilsk.


Photojournalism Links is a compilation of the most interesting photojournalism found on the web, curated by Mikko Takkunen, Associate Photo Editor at TIME. Follow him on Twitter @photojournalism.

TIME China

China Tumbles in Annual Corruption Index

Chinese one-hundred yuan banknotes
Jerome Favre—Bloomberg/Getty Images

See where countries rank from most corrupt to least

China fell 20 spots in this year’s corruption rankings, despite President Xi Jinping’s massive campaign to weed out graft that has disciplined more than 60,000 government officials.

Transparency International’s annual study, released late Tuesday, scored 175 countries and territories based on how corrupt experts perceive them to be. The lowest rankings indicate the highest amounts of corruption. China, the world’s second largest economy, placed 100 on the Index, down from 80 in 2013.

“Fast-growing economies whose governments refuse to be transparent and tolerate corruption, create a culture of impunity in which corruption thrives,” José Ugaz, the chair of Transparency International, said in a statement released with the report. Brazil, Russia and India, the other members of the so-called BRIC developing nations, all placed in the lower two-thirds of the rankings.

Denmark held onto first place as the country seen as least corrupt, while recent and current conflict zones represented some of the poorest-faring countries, including Syria (159), Libya (166) and Somalia, which tied North Korea for last place.

Iraq, where the government said on Monday that an internal review had found some 50,000 soldiers were on the payroll but not showing up for duty, placed 170.

Read next: Hong Kong Protest Leaders Attempt to Surrender to Police

TIME Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Protests Are Creating a More Ethnically Unified City

Holing Yip Members from Hong Kong's South Asian community take part in a protest for democracy on October 9, 2014 in the Central district of Hong Kong.

Many members of Hong Kong's non-Chinese community have been swept up in the Umbrella Revolution

Jeffrey Andrews, a 29-year-old social worker of Indian origin, got a call from a Pakistani friend on the night of Sept. 28, when thousands of Hong Kong people, many of them students, had begun to occupy the streets to demand greater democracy. “What are we doing?” his friend said. “We should be out there with the students, this is our city.”

Andrews agreed, and the next day they mobilized a group of about 35 of their peers, printed banners that read “Hong Kong is our home, we ethnic minorities strive for democracy” and headed to Admiralty, the main protest site. Andrews admits that he was unsure what kind of reception and acceptance they would get from the ethnically Chinese crowd.

“As soon as we got out with our banners people just applauded, and we were so encouraged,” he said. And they’ve been going back there every night since then.

Tens of thousands of Hong Kongers have flooded the streets since the end of September, defying Beijing in a protest that is widely seen as the most politically significant movement in China in more than two decades. Among the crowds are many non-Chinese, who insist that they too belong to the Umbrella Revolution, as the protests are being called, and that it belongs to them.

“Of course it is our movement,” says 19-year-old Kenny Omar, born and brought up in Hong Kong but Somali by origin. “We’re born here, we’re citizens, we support them.”

“This is just as much my city as it is anyone else’s,” says Nick, 23, a filmmaker of Indian origin who did not wish to give his last name. “I think the movement is way past race and ethnicity, it’s deep down in the core of humanity.”

His friend Kamal Mirwani, a travel writer who proudly sports the iconic Hong Kong skyline as a tattoo down his right leg, says the drive for full political rights has real urgency. “This is our chance — this is the only chance we get,” he says.

According to the 2011 census, Hong Kong is home to over 450,000 people of non-Chinese ethnicity, making up 6.4% of its total population. Some, like the Indians and Parsis, trace their roots back to the founding of modern Hong Kong as a British colony in 1841, when they were drawn by the fledgling settlement’s possibilities for trade. Others, like the Pakistanis and the Nepalese, came to provide the policing and military muscle of what was then an outpost of the Raj. Still later communities — like the Indonesians, Thais and Filipinos — came in large numbers to do domestic work as Hong Kong prospered into a global financial hub.

A few non-Chinese, particularly from the South Asian community, have become fabulously wealthy. But in general, Hong Kong’s minorities often face various problems, particularly in the fields of education and employment. According to government statistics, nearly two-thirds of the ethnic minority population earns less than $500 a month, in a city where the median income is more than three times that.

For several of them, supporting Hong Kong’s democracy campaign takes precedence over their pocketbook woes. “I think with this movement right now, it’s so important that we’re focused on the development of democracy, that we’re not really talking explicitly about other issues,” said Holing Yip, research officer for ethnic minority advocacy group Hong Kong Unison. “People are noticing ethnic minorities being a part of Hong Kong, being participants.”

Yip points out that ethnic minorities have always been involved in protest movements in Hong Kong, but says that she has seen an overwhelming sense of solidarity that sets the Umbrella Revolution apart.

“They really see this as a movement that they need to be a part of,” Yip said.

Or at least most do. Others prefer to adopt a neutral stance. “It’s not my job to keep track of what’s happening,” said Mohammad Noor, a 63-year-old Bangladeshi who has lived in Hong Kong for nine years and sells snacks, dates and prayer caps outside the Kowloon Mosque and Islamic Centre. “I think it is injustice to spoil this country,” he said. “It’s giving us a place to stay and work.”

Andrews says his group has faced some opposition of this nature, especially from older members of the community. “All of them say they’ve worked so hard to establish their businesses, and ask why we’re going against the flow of things,” he says. “Many of the Pakistanis even say their country has a great diplomatic relationship with China, that we’re going out and ruining it.” But he also says that negative comments make up only a sliver of the reaction they have encountered.

Unison’s Yip also detects a degree of fatalism. “One of the retorts would be ‘Even if the majority Chinese come out and they can’t do anything, what makes us feel like we can?’” she says. “But the others will say, ‘We are a part of this, if they are helpless, we are helpless too.’”

Nick, for his part, admits that he may not entirely subscribe to the ideology of the movement. But he says that’s irrelevant. “It’s less about whether I believe exactly in what’s going on, but I would be out there because I feel like it would affect the people of my city in the right way,” he says. “That’s why I’d be out there, to support them asking for what they believe is the right thing.”

“I think we’re finally being accepted as locals, we’re finally just like one of them,” says Andrews. “No matter what the result is going to be, at the end of the day I think we’re a much more unified Hong Kong than ever before.”

As the movement enters its fourth week, it’s becoming increasingly clear that — regardless of ethnicity — anyone who wants to get beneath the umbrella is welcome.

TIME the backstory

Photojournalism Daily: Oct. 16, 2014

Photojournalism Links is a compilation of the most interesting photojournalism found on the web, curated by Mikko Takkunen

Today’s daily Photojournalism Links collection highlights Kiana Hayeri’s work that explores Iran’s sexual minorities. The photographs capture the story of a 19-year-old gay man called Amir, who moves to Turkey in the hope of a better future. The series is a powerful document of the young adult at a life’s crossroads and in the midst of continuing sexual transformation, and it just received an Honorable Mention from the 2014 Emerging Photographer Fund.


Kiana Hayeri: Jense Degar (The Other Sex) (Burn Magazine)

Misha Friedman: Bogdan and Yegor (Time.com) A Crimean gay couple decides to emigrate as Russian homophobia sets in.

Katie Orlinsky: Bear Town USA (Al Jazeera America) A small Alaskan village goes through major changes as Arctic Sea ice retreats.

Seeing Beauty Where Others Do Not (The New York Times Lens) Sarah Stacke writes about Marc Riboud, whose Asia work is now on show at the Rubin Museum of Art, in New York.

A Lens to the Front (Roads & Kingdoms) The story behind Metrography, the first and only independent photo agency in Iraq.

Chasing Militants While Pregnant (BBC World Service — Outlook) Fascinating radio interview with French photographer Veronique de Viguerie on some of her most dangerous assignments. Starts 30 seconds in.


Photojournalism Links is a compilation of the most interesting photojournalism found on the web, curated by Mikko Takkunen, Associate Photo Editor at TIME. Follow him on Twitter @photojournalism.


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