TIME Infectious Disease

Potential Vaccine Shows Some Promise, but the Spread of Ebola Is Accelerating

Participants arrive at the opening of a consultation of international experts on potential Ebola therapies and vaccines in Geneva
Denis Balibouse / Reuters—REUTERS Participants arrive at the opening of a consultation of international experts on potential Ebola therapies and vaccines in Geneva September 4, 2014.

Half the people who now have Ebola got it in the past month

A study, published Sunday in Nature Medicine, details promising results of a possible Ebola vaccine following trials carried out on monkeys.

The animals received “complete short-term and partial long-term protection” from a single shot, and “durable” immunity after being given booster shots two months later, researchers said. Human trials will begin this week, and assessments of its efficacy and safety are expected by early November.

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced Friday that it would attempt to fast-track the use of experimental drugs to combat a West African epidemic now virtually out of control.

About half of the estimated 4,000 people who have contracted Ebola since the outbreak began in March have been infected over the past month. The real number of infected is likely much higher, since that figure only accounts for lab-confirmed cases. If the accelerated speed of the spread continues, WHO’s projection of 20,000 cases by October could well be surpassed.

New cases have been confirmed in Nigeria and Senegal, and a grave lack of hospital beds in Liberia is sending scores of suspected victims back to their homes, severely aggravating the risk of death and additional contagion. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced Thursday it would build 10 Ebola centers with 100 beds each. The European Union also said Friday that it would pledge $181.3 million to the worst-hit countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea — but huge problems remain.

“We could get a bunch of tents and beds in here in no time,” Jeremy Konyndyk, director of USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, told the Wall Street Journal. “The hard part is who staffs those beds.”

WHO calculates that it takes between 200 and 250 health workers to care for 80 Ebola patients. But the process of attracting personnel to assist in the battle has proved to be difficult. For now, many infected people unable to receive hospital care are relying on home treatment kits provided by USAID.

Doctors Without Borders is urgently looking to hire additional workers, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is initiating a recruitment and training program.

If an American doctor who is currently being treated for Ebola continues to make progress, it is possible that recruitment efforts will be given a slight boost. However, the recovery of Dr. Rick Sacra is by no means certain.

The 51-year-old obstetrician and experienced missionary worker was infected on assignment in Liberia, and arrived at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha on Friday. He is weak, but in a stable condition, and is showing encouraging signs to staff.

“He’s made a few jokes,” Dr. Phil Smith, one of the doctors tending to Sacra, told AP on Sunday. “In my experience, that’s a good sign. But it’s too early to say he has turned a corner.”

His wife issued a statement Saturday asking the world to continue to focus on the wider outbreak and not just her husband’s illness.

TIME United Kingdom

U.K. Promises More Powers to Scotland if Nation Rejects Independence

The Flag of Scotland, the Saltire, blows in the wind near Berwick-upon-Tweed on the border between England and Scotland
Russell Cheyne—Reuters The flag of Scotland, the Saltire, blows in the wind near Berwick-upon-Tweed on the border between England and Scotland on Sept. 7, 2014

"They have failed to scare the Scots, now they are trying to bribe us"

The British government has promised a range of new financial powers for Scotland if voters choose to stay part of the U.K.

Residents of Scotland will head to polling booths on Sept. 18 in a historic vote to decide whether to become an independent nation for the first time in more than four centuries.

The new offer comes as opinion polls swung in favor of a Yes vote for Scottish independence for the first time this month. A YouGov poll put the Yes campaign at 51% while the No campaign slid down to 49%.

In light of the sudden swing, British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said the new powers would include more autonomy on tax, spending and welfare if Scots vote against independence.

“Then Scotland will have the best of both worlds. They will both avoid the risks of separation but have more control over their own destiny, which is where I think many Scots want to be,” the Conservative MP told the BBC.

But many in the Yes camp feel the offer smacks of desperation, and is too little too late.

“I don’t think people are going to take this seriously. If the other parties had been serious about more powers, then something concrete would have been put forward before now,” Nicola Sturgeon, deputy leader of the proindependence Scottish National Party, told the BBC.

Her views were echoed by First Minister Alex Salmond of Scotland. “This is a ridiculous position being put forward by a campaign … in terminal trouble,” he said. “They have failed to scare the Scots, now they are trying to bribe us.”

Since the referendum campaign started, surveys have shown that Scotland would likely stay within the U.K., but the current shift in the polls now has the British government worried that Scots will choose to secede.

A key issue has been whether an independent Scotland could continue to use the currency pound sterling — a prospect all three of the major London-based political parties say they would veto, but the Yes campaign insists it is outside of Westminster’s control.

TIME Military

U.S. Strikes in Iraq Against Jihadists, Moving West Toward Syria

A Kurdish peshmerga fighter takes up position at the front line against the Islamic State, in Khazir
Ahmed Jadallah / Reuters A Kurdish fighter primed for action against ISIS in the northern Iraq town of Khazir on Sunday.

It looks increasingly like the U.S. will start attacking targets there

The U.S. military took a unilateral giant step toward bombing targets inside Syria over the weekend as it swung its crosshairs west and began bombing Islamic militants in the western Iraq province that borders Bashar al-Assad’s war-ravaged country.

President Obama said Sunday he will detail his plans for destroying the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in a speech to the nation Wednesday. “The next phase is now to start going on some offense,” he said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “And ultimately we’re going to defeat them.”

He made clear—twice—that international borders won’t hamper U.S. efforts. “We will hunt down [ISIS] members and assets wherever they are,” he said. “I will reserve the right to always protect the American people and go after folks who are trying to hurt us wherever they are.”

Wherever. That means only one thing: Syria is the next stop on the road to defeating the Islamic jihadists.

“You don’t want to give them sanctuary at all,” says Anthony Zinni, former chief of U.S. Central Command, which oversees the region. “You can’t have a Pakistan,” where U.S. military efforts in Afghanistan have been frustrated by enemy forces who could scoot across borders to escape U.S. attacks. “They’ll simply regroup inside Syria and then re-attack—that’s stupid” if allowed to happen, the retired Marine general says.

The nation’s top military officer has already said rooting out ISIS’s Syrian haven is required for success. “Can they be defeated without addressing that part of the organization that resides in Syria?” Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Aug. 21. “The answer is ‘no’.”

The challenge of any U.S. military action in Syria is to hurt ISIS without helping the government of dictator Assad, whose civil war against several rebel groups, including ISIS, has killed nearly 200,000 people over three years. “We are supporting the Syrian moderate opposition,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Sunday in Tbilisi, Georgia.

The strikes launched Saturday and Sunday marked the first acknowledged time in a month-long U.S. bombing campaign of nearly 150 strikes against ISIS that U.S. munitions hit targets in western Iraq’s Anbar province. Prior American attacks had been limited to northern Iraq.

Like earlier strikes, the Pentagon justified the weekend’s action as part of Obama’s two-pronged ISIS effort to protect U.S. interests in Iraq and prevent humanitarian disasters against the Iraqi people. Earlier strikes were needed to defend the Mosul dam from an ISIS takeover, the Pentagon said, due to fear that the militants might sabotage it and send a 60-foot cascade of water down the Tigris River, threatening residents of Mosul.

The U.S. military used a similar justification for the weekend’s strikes on ISIS units near Anwar’s Haditha dam on the Euphrates River. “The potential loss of control of the dam or a catastrophic failure of the dam—and the flooding that might result—would have threatened U.S. personnel and facilities in and around Baghdad, as well as thousands of Iraqi citizens,” Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement.

The attacks in Anbar—even if from the sky— mark a watershed return for the U.S. to the Sunni-dominated province where American forces fought several of the Iraq war’s most deadly battles before leaving the country nearly three years ago. It’s a tacit acknowledgement that the U.S. withdrawal—aided and abetted by a recalcitrant Iraqi government—was premature.

The Anbar action comes nine months after ISIS forces took control of Fallujah, one of its main cities and the site of some of the 2003-2011 war’s bloodiest battles between U.S. forces and Iraqi insurgents. Some U.S. military officers believe Washington should have begun stepped-up military action back then.

Military experts are divided on how well the Obama Administration has handled the ISIS threat. Lawrence Korb, a former assistant defense secretary in the Reagan Administration, praises the President’s methodical approach. “You make it clear we’re going to get these guys,” says Korb, now with the Center for American Progress think tank, “just like we got [Osama] bin Laden.”

Others suggest partisanship at home has hobbled the U.S. effort to deal with ISIS. “Our nation is suffering this current distraction because of our inability to reach a consensus on how to deal with the crisis in Syria over a year ago,” says Jerry Hendrix, a naval flight officer who went on to serve as the Navy’s top historian before retiring from the service as a captain two months ago. Hendrix, now a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, blames “the hyper-partisan atmosphere and the continuous election campaign we find ourselves in” for the delay.

For his part, Zinni finds what he sees as Obama’s foot-dragging distressing. “The President’s job is not to put his finger up and test the political winds,” he says. “It’s to make a decision based on threats to our people and interests, and then explain to the American people why he’s doing it.”

Obama gets his chance Wednesday, the eve of the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

TIME Iceland

See Iceland’s Volcano Raging Under the Northern Lights In 1 Amazing Image

The Bardarbunga volcano erupts under the aurora borealis in the Holuhraun lava field in the east highlands of Iceland near Snæfell on Sept. 2, 2014.
Gísli Dúa Hjörleifsson The Bardarbunga volcano erupts under the aurora borealis in the Holuhraun lava field in the east highlands of Iceland near Snæfell on Sept. 2, 2014.

Since the Aug. 31 eruption of Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcano, the world has watched in awe as it spews glowing red lava into the desolate landscape. Bardarbunga has stemmed a series of earthquakes through the country, but the eruption has also become the subject of some incredible photographs, videos, and satellite images.

Icelandic photographer Gísli Dúa Hjörleifsson, who is also a ranger in the area, may have captured the most epic images of all: the hot glow of the volcanic eruption underneath cool and ethereal haze of the northern lights, or the aurora borealis.

Gísli Dúa HjörleifssonThe Bardarbunga volcano erupts under the aurora borealis in the Holuhraun lava field in the east highlands of Iceland near Snæfell on Sept. 2, 2014.

“In my many years of working in the highland of Iceland both as a photographer and ranger, I . . . have a knowledge of the nature and especially the way the light has an huge influence in the landscape,” Hjörleifsson told TIME. “Knowing the current situation of the volcano I wanted to capture this unique situation. I drove up in the area surrounding the volcano and watched the the sky until I could see the northern lights taking shape. That interaction with the heat and color from the volcano created a completely new color palette I have never seen [before].”

TIME North Korea

American Detained in North Korea Going on Trial This Week

Matthew Todd Miller
AP In this Aug. 1, 2014 file image taken from video, U.S. citizen Matthew Todd Miller, of Bakersfield, Calif., speaks at an undisclosed location in North Korea.

Matthew Miller will go to trial on Sept. 14

An American recently detained in North Korea is set to go to trial this week, according to Reuters citing North Korean state news agency KCNA.

Matthew Miller, 26, will go to trial on Sept. 14. Miller, originally from Bakersfield, Calif., was arrested in April for allegedly destroying his visa when he arrived in North Korea.

Miller is one of three Americans being held in the country. Jeffrey Fowle was arrested this spring for leaving a Bible in a club after entering the country in late April. Kenneth Bae has reportedly been detained since 2012 for what Pyongyang says was a plot to overthrow the state.

The Americans have called for the U.S. to intervene and secure their release, speaking out in rare interviews with CNN and the Associated Press. In an recent interview with CNN, Miller said “my situation is very urgent, that very soon I am going to trial, and I would directly be sent to prison.”

[Reuters]

TIME Iraq

U.S. Launches New Air Strikes in Iraq to Protect Dams

The U.S. has conducted 138 airstrikes in Iraq so far

Updated 10:31 a.m.

The U.S. launched a series of airstrikes against Islamic militants in western Iraq this weekend to protect vital dams, the Pentagon said. The new airstrikes targeted fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) operating near western Iraq’s Haditha Dam and Mosul Dam.

“At the request of the Government of Iraq, the U.S. military today conducted coordinated airstrikes against [ISIS] terrorists in the vicinity of the Haditha Dam in Anbar province,” Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement. “We conducted these strikes to prevent terrorists from further threatening the security of the dam, which remains under control of Iraqi Security Forces, with support from Sunni tribes.”

National Security Council Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden said the Haditha strikes were carried out “at the direction of the President and in coordination with the Government of Iraq.”

The Pentagon said in a separate statement that “additionally, an attack aircraft conducted one airstrike against ISIL near Mosul Dam on Saturday in support of Iraqi security forces protecting Mosul Dam.” The U.S. had previously carried out airstrikes to protect the Mosul Dam, but the operations near the Haditha Dam were new.

The Pentagon said it ordered the strikes to protect U.S. personnel and support Iraqi security forces. “We will continue to conduct operations as needed in support of the Iraqi Security Forces and the Sunni tribes, working with those forces securing Haditha Dam,” Kirby said.

This weekend’s strikes brings the total number of recent U.S. bombings in Iraq to 138.

TIME White House

Obama: Ebola ‘Could Be a Serious Danger’ if U.S. Doesn’t Act

"We have to make this a national-security priority"

President Barack Obama said the U.S. must lead the international community in containing the spread of Ebola in Africa, warning there could be a long-term threat to the homeland if the country doesn’t act.

“Americans shouldn’t be concerned about the prospects of contagion here in the United States short term, because it’s not an airborne disease,” Obama said in an interview airing Sunday with NBC’s Meet the Press. But he warned that the U.S. must make the disease a priority. “If we don’t make that effort now, and this spreads not just through Africa but other parts of the world, there’s the prospect then that the virus mutates,” he said. “It becomes more easily transmittable. And then it could be a serious danger to the United States.”

Obama said U.S. troops would likely be needed to help establish isolation units and to protect aid workers. “If we do that it will still be months before it is controllable for much of Africa, but it shouldn’t hit our shores,” he said.

“What I’ve said, and I said this two months ago to our national-security team, is we have to make this a national-security priority,” Obama added.

TIME Infectious Disease

Aid Group: Sierra Leone Ebola Lockdown Won’t Halt Virus

Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone
Mohammed Elshamy—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images Ebola volunteers in Kptema graveyard in Kenema, Sierra Leone, on Aug. 24, 2014

Doctors Without Borders says the countrywide quarantine could actually make things worse

Doctors Without Borders said Saturday that Sierra Leone’s proposed countrywide three-day “lockdown” will not help stop the spread of Ebola and could actually make things worse as more cases are driven underground.

Sierra Leone’s government intends to impose a three-day curfew across the country beginning on Sept. 19. During the lockdown, citizens will be prohibited from traveling outside the immediate vicinity of their homes. The hope is to help stop the spread of infection and give health workers time to locate infected people, Reuters reports.

But Doctors Without Borders (also called Médecins Sans Frontières) says the move won’t help combat what’s become the worst ever Ebola outbreak, and may in fact be detrimental to combating the virus.

“It has been our experience that lockdowns and quarantines do not help control Ebola as they end up driving people underground and jeopardizing the trust between people and health providers,” the group said.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), West Africa’s recent Ebola outbreak has taken more than 2,100 lives since it started in Guinea in March. In the six months of its rapid spread, the disease has also taken a foothold in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Senegal. The WHO forecasts up to 20,000 cases of the deadly virus before its spread can be stopped.

[Reuters]

TIME russia

Russia Is Testing NATO’s Resolve in Eastern Europe

Russian President Vladimir Putin Visits Crimea
Sasha Mordovets—Getty Images Russian President Vladimir Putin conducts a meeting with Russian ministers, members of parliament, lawmakers and other public cultural leaders in the Chekhov Museum on August 14, 2014 in Yalta, Crimea.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is feeling around for the gaps that have emerged in NATO's defenses, and it may take more than military spending to patch them up

A few years ago, when NATO strategists would stop to consider a possible threat from Russia, their chief concern was the possibility, however slight, that the Russian state would implode, lose control of its nuclear arsenal and allow a few warheads to fall into the wrong hands. That at least was the worry Ivo Daalder expressed in the fall of 2010, when he paid a visit to Moscow as the U.S. ambassador to NATO. But on the whole, he says he just wasn’t very concerned about Russia at the time. The alliance was too busy with that year’s troop surge in Afghanistan and with newfangled threats like cyber warfare.

“As a security concern Russia wasn’t really on the agenda in 2010,” he tells TIME by phone on Friday from Chicago. “The focus with Russia was really on cooperation.”

At that year’s NATO summit in Lisbon, Russia seemed eager to play along. The military doctrine it adopted earlier that year still listed NATO expansion as the primary threat to Russian security. But Dmitri Medvedev, who was then serving as Russia’s president while Vladimir Putin took a turn as prime minister, agreed in Lisbon to cooperate with the alliance on various issues of mutual concern, such as terrorism and drug trafficking. The brief war that Russia had fought two years earlier in neighboring Georgia, an aspiring member of NATO, was duly put aside at the Lisbon summit as a bump in the road toward Russia’s cooperation with the alliance. All the while, the defense infrastructure that NATO had maintained during the Cold War to prepare for a confrontation with Russia in Europe was falling deeper into disrepair.

“NATO had for many years failed to really invest in its infrastructure in the east,” recalls Daalder, whose term as ambassador ended a year ago. “Even the basics were just very poor to non-existent.” That included things like air bases in Eastern Europe, ports, oil pipelines and other essential gear that NATO would have needed to “flush forces into the region,” he says.

Only this spring, after Russia sent troops into another one of its European neighbors – this time Ukraine – to occupy and annex the region of Crimea, NATO finally began to consider for the first time in two decades how exposed its eastern flank had become. The agenda at the NATO summit in Wales this week was shaped by this realization. But adjusting to it will take much more than the summit’s decision on Friday to station a few thousand troops in Eastern Europe on a rotating basis. It will need to adapt to a security paradigm that Russia seems to be inventing on the fly, and wiping the dust off NATO’s Cold War playbook may not do much to help the alliance find its footing on this unfamiliar terrain.

“It’s a different ball game,” says Daalder. It still involves a distinctly Soviet bag of tricks – most importantly Putin’s reminder last month of the strength of his nuclear arsenal – but Putin’s actions in Ukraine have also displayed a new type of shape-shifting warfare, one that is far more nimble and unpredictable than anything the stodgy old men of the Politburo were able to muster.

Take, for instance, the standoff unfolding along the Russian border with Estonia, one of the NATO allies that is, by virtue of geography and demography, most susceptible to Russian meddling. Not only does it share a border with Russia that is nearly 200 miles long, but its population is roughly a quarter Russian, forming an ethnic minority whose rights Putin has promised to “protect” by any legal means. These vulnerabilities were among the reasons Barack Obama chose to visit Estonia on Wednesday in a show of solidarity. During a speech in the capital, the U.S. President pledged his military would come to Estonia’s defense if it were ever attacked or invaded. “An attack on one is an attack on all,” Obama said, echoing Article 5 of NATO’s founding treaty, which obliges all members to defend any ally that faces a foreign attack.

Two days later, as the summit in Wales was winding down, Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves sounded the alarm over what he reportedly called an invasion of Estonian territory. He and other senior officials from his government said that unknown assailants had come from Russia and abducted an Estonian security service officer at gunpoint, allegedly using smoke bombs and jamming the radios of Estonian border guards during the Friday morning raid.

Russia made no secret of its involvement. The security service known as the FSB (the post-Soviet incarnation of the KGB) told Russian news agencies that it had the officer in custody on suspicion of spying, but claimed he had been arrested on the Russian side of the border, not in Estonia. Given the timing, some Estonian officials saw the move as a blatant Russian provocation, not only against their country but the whole of NATO.

“This is a demonstrative show for the United States and other Western countries that [Russia] does what it wants in this part of the world,” Urmas Reinsalu, an Estonian lawmaker and former minister of defense, told the Postimees newspaper. Another prominent Estonian politician, Eerik-Niiles Kross, who formerly served as the country’s intelligence chief, told local media that the kidnapping “should be filed under ‘rewriting the rules.’”

That seems like a fair term for what Russia has been doing in Ukraine all year. With its annexation of Crimea in March, Russia redrew the borders of Europe and, as Daalder puts it, “threw out the rulebook of post-Cold War security policy.” The new rules will depend primarily on the way NATO responds. So far, Obama has made clear that his “red line” is the border of the NATO alliance, and if Russia violates that border, the U.S. would respond with force. But what exactly would constitute such a breach? A full-on tank invasion or something more subtle?

It is through such ambiguities that Russia has been testing NATO’s resolve, prodding and provoking to feel out the alliance’s weak spots. And it isn’t the first time Russia’s done this. During Estonia’s noisy 2007 spat with Russia over a Soviet war memorial, Russian hackers launched a massive cyberattack against Estonia that paralyzed the websites of its government, parliament, banks and media. Estonian officials blamed the Kremlin, and questioned whether a cyberattack of this or any other magnitude could trigger Article 5 of the NATO treaty. At the Wales summit this week the allies finally affirmed that it could, even suggesting that the NATO could launch a military response to a cyber threat. This seemed to patch a key hole in the alliance’s remit.

So what about the arrest of the Estonian security official on Friday? Would that qualify as an invasion if the government proves that Russian agents crossed into Estonia and kidnapped him at gunpoint? Probably not. Even after the U.S. and NATO claimed last month that Russia had sent thousands of troops into Ukraine, Obama stopped short of calling it an invasion.

At some point Russia’s aggression may become blatant and destructive enough to trigger NATO’s allied response. But the crucial question is where that point would be, and whether it even exists. Some observers have begun to doubt it. Last month the Russian political scientist Andrei Pointkovsky proposed a thought experiment on this question involving the potential flashpoint of Estonia.

The population of the border city of Narva, he pointed out, is predominantly Russian, and the Kremlin could in theory try to stir an ethnic rebellion in Narva much as it did among the ethnic Russians in Crimea this spring. NATO would then have to consider whether such an incursion breaches Obama’s red line, but in the meantime, Putin could in theory decide to launch a “very limited” nuclear strike against a NATO city, Pointkovsky wrote. What would the West do then?

“Put yourself in the place of Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate . . . The progressive and even the reactionary American public would cry out in unison that, ‘We don’t want to die for f—ing Narva, Mr. President!,” wrote Pointkovsky.

In Pointkovsky’s assessment, it is far from clear how the U.S. would respond to this doomsday scenario, and Daalder agrees. “Do I know for certain that if the Russians would use nuclear weapons against Poland that we would retaliate? No,” says the former ambassador. The Western assumption, he says, is that Putin would not take such a gargantuan risk, that even the slight possibility of a NATO counter-strike would be enough to deter him. This logic, known among defense wonks as Mutually Assured Destruction, is what prevented the U.S. and the Soviet Union from ever starting a nuclear war.

It has been a generation since the West has really been forced to consider whether such thinking is sound. But based on the wording of its official military doctrine, which was adopted in 2010, Russia has been thinking about this all along. A senior Russian general even suggested this week that the doctrine should be revised to allow for the possibility of a “preventative” nuclear attack against the West. This issue did not come up at the NATO summit in Wales, at least not publicly, but Daalder suggests it may be time to assess Russia’s reasoning. “We haven’t thought about deterrence in a long time, and we need to do it again,” he says. The expiration date has clearly past on NATO’s infrastructure in Eastern Europe, but its mentality in standing up to Russia may also be due for an update.

TIME Somalia

Somalia Braces for Retaliation After Al-Shabab Leader’s Death

United States Somalia
Farah Abdi Warsameh—AP Hundreds of newly trained al-Shabab fighters perform military exercises in the Lafofe area south of Mogadishu, Somalia, Feb. 17, 2011.

African Union peacekeepers were attacked in southwestern Somalia Saturday

Updated 2:22 p.m. ET

Officials in Somalia have placed the country on high alert in anticipation of retaliatory attacks after the U.S. confirmed Friday it killed the leader of al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda-affiliated militant group operating in the country.

The Pentagon said Friday that intelligence had confirmed Shabab leader Ahmed Godane was killed in a Monday strike against the militant Islamist group. On Saturday, the day after the announcement, a convoy of African Union peacekeeping troops repelled an attack by the militant group in the south of the country.

Officials anticipate that Godane’s death may spark a new round of attacks from the group. Al-Shabab initially denied via Twitter that Goodane had been killed, but it confirmed his death Saturday and announced that Sheikh Ahmad Umar, also called Abu Ubaidah, as its next leader, Al Jazeera reports.

Under Goodane’s leaderhip, al-Shabab became a formal ally of al-Qaeda and carried out major terrorist attacks, including a round of suicide bombings in Kampala, Uganda, in 2010 that killed more than 70 and the attack on a Nairobi mall last year that left 67 people dead.

[CNN]

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