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IS claims attack on Baghdad mall which killed at least 12

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.. As 8 children are feared dead after Russia strike hits Syria school: monitor

An attack by the Islamic State group involving a car bomb, a gunfight and a hostage-taking left at least 12 people dead in Baghdad Monday, security and medical sources said.

The exact sequence of the attack in the Baghdad al-Jadida area of the Iraqi capital was not immediately clear but security officials and an AFP reporter described scenes of chaos.

The attack, which IS claimed in a statement posted online, was a departure from the jihadist organisation’s usual modus operandi of suicide car bombings.

According to an official from the interior ministry, gunmen blew up at least one car bomb before spraying gunfire in the street and storming a mall called Zahrat Baghdad.

“At least one of the attackers had a suicide vest and blew himself up inside the mall,” the official said.

Several people were held hostage inside the mall and three of them were killed as security forces attempted to neutralize the attackers, a police colonel said.

“When the security forces got too close, they killed three hostages,” he said.

“The attackers at one stage released at least nine hostages, women and children,” he also said.

The police officer said at least two members of the security forces were killed during the attack and nine wounded, including three officers.

A hospital official confirmed the death toll and said at least three attackers either killed themselves or were killed by the security forces.

Security forces at one stage in the attack reported that gunmen had full control of the mall and it was not clear how the standoff ended.

The area around the mall, located in a busy commercial area of Baghdad al-Jadida, a populous Shiite-majority area on the eastern edge of the Iraqi capital, suffered extensive damage.

Police said a counter-terrorism force from the intelligence services was deployed to the scene of the attack.

“The security forces are now fully in control, the gunmen have been killed and the hostages have been freed,” the police officer said.

Helicopters flew overhead as security forces searched the scene and the roads gradually reopened.

The IS statement said the attack was carried out by “four soldiers of the caliphate” and targeted Shiites.

It said one of the IS members blew himself up in an explosives-laden vehicle when “the apostates sent reinforcements”.

IS claimed that a total of 90 people were killed or wounded but the group has exaggerated the number of casualties caused by its attacks in previous such statements.

IS has suffered a number of military setbacks across Iraq in the past year. Security officials say fierce battles and relentless air strikes have depleted its manpower.

Meanwhile, at least eight children were killed along with their teacher in a Russian air strike that hit a school in Syria’s Aleppo province on Monday, a monitor said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the strike in the town of Anjara also injured at least 20 people, all of them children and teachers.

The group said there had been heavy air strikes and clashes between government and rebel forces since Sunday in the northern province, which is controlled by a mixture of moderate and Islamist rebels.

The Britain-based monitor also reported that three children were killed by rebel rocket fire on a government-held district in Aleppo city.

Control of the city has been divided between government forces in the west and rebel fighters in the east since shortly after fighting began there in mid-2012.

Government forces regularly carry out air raids on the east, while rebels fire rockets into the west.

The situation is largely reversed in the countryside surrounding the city, with rebels controlling much of the area west of Aleppo, and the government present to the east.

Russia, a staunch ally of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, began air strikes in support of the central government in late September.

It says it is targeting the Islamic State group and other “terrorists,” but a third of those killed in its strikes have been civilians, according to the Observatory.

The monitor said in late December that Russian air strikes had killed more than 2,300 people since they began on September 30, among them 792 civilians.

Moscow has slammed as “absurd” allegations that its strikes have killed civilians.

More than 260,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011 with anti-government protests.

 

MSN

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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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