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129 Killed in Syrian Bombings — as Kerry Announces ‘Provisional’ Truce

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  • More troops killed in Kirshmire conflict 

A bloody spasm of violence was reported to have killed almost 130 people Sunday in Syria as the United States announced that it and Russia had reached a “provisional agreement” on a cease-fire in the civil war-torn country.

The official Syrian news agency SANA said 83 people were killed and 178 others were wounded in three bombings near a Shiite shrine in Damascus.

Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 46 people were killed by two suicide bombers in the al-Zahraa neighborhood of Homs. At least 28 of the victims in Homs were civilians, said the observatory, a British-based human rights watchdog that is widely considered to be authoritative.

SANA said ISIS claimed responsibility for the bombings near Damascus, which it described as a car bomb explosion followed by two suicide bombs in the area of the Shiite shrine of Sayyida Zeinab. It said most of the injured were women and children.

The violence came on the same day that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington and Moscow had negotiated a “provisional” deal on a truce in Syria’s civil war.

World powers, which have been pushing for a halt in Syria’s nearly five-year civil war, had hoped to see a truce take effect on Friday but have struggled to agree on the terms.

Kerry said in remarks in Amman with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh that he had spoken with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov three times to secure a “cessation of hostilities that could begin in the coming days.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry said later that Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had spoken to Kerry and that the two powers had agreed on the parameters of the cease-fire.

Neither Kerry nor the Russian Foreign Ministry provided further details, and Kerry acknowledged that a way to enforce the agreement still hadn’t been determined.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Putin also have yet to sign off on the terms, but Kerry said he expects the two leaders to “speak somewhere in the next days or so in order to try to complete this task.”

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Saturday that he was “definitely” ready to accept a “cessation of hostility” — but only if “terrorists” weren’t allowed to use it to their advantage.

“If you want to say ‘cease-fire,’ it’s not the correct word, because a cease-fire is between two armies or two countries,” Assad said. “It’s better to say ‘cessation of hostility,’ or let’s say, ‘stopping the operations’. …

“It’s also about other complimentary and more important factors — preventing the terrorists from using the cease-fire or the cessation of hostility to improve their position,” he said. “It’s about preventing other countries, especially Turkey, from sending more recruits, more terrorists, more armaments or any kind of logistical support to those terrorists.”

Turkey has been among the most active of the Western countries supporting insurgents fighting Assad’s regime.

In the meantime, another three soldiers have been killed in a stand-off with militants near Srinagar in Indian-administered Kashmir, military officials say.

Two other soldiers and a civilian were killed in violence on Saturday.

The stand-off began when up to four attackers ambushed a military convoy before taking refuge in a training institute.

A new exchange of gunfire began on Sunday morning as soldiers repeatedly tried to dislodge them.

Part of the building was on fire as security forces came under prolonged gunfire.

Two army captains are among those killed on Sunday, military officials say.

About 100 students and staff were evacuated from the building on Saturday as it was encircled by troops.

The security forces say they are preparing for a final assault on the institute and are reported to be using reconnaissance drones in preparation.

Police have described the militants as “suspected anti-India rebels”.

The gunmen took refuge in the government-run Entrepreneurship Development Institute after attacking paramilitary forces in a convoy on the main road linking Srinagar to Jammu.

Intermittent exchanges of fire near the building could still be heard until late on Sunday afternoon.

Eyewitnesses say as many as five gunmen could be holed up.

Witnesses say the gunmen told civilians in the complex to “save themselves” and move to a nearby hostel on the campus as they broke into the premises.

Kashmir, claimed by both India and Pakistan in its entirety, has been a flashpoint for more than 60 years.

The two South Asian rivals have fought two wars over the region in the Himalayas.

NBC with additional report from BBC

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WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners

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…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

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Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live

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The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: www.maritimefirstnewspaper.com and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured

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…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

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ADEBAYO SARUMI: Doyen of Maritime Industry Marks 80th Anniversary, Saturday 

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