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ISIS Attacks Kill 32 in Southern Iraq; Bombing in Turkey Kills Two

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  • Syria Aleppo: Kerry begins new bid to stop fighting

Two suicide car bombs claimed by ISIS killed at least 32 people and wounded 75 others in the center of the southern Iraqi city of Samawa on Sunday, police and medics said.

The first blast was near a local government building and the second one about 65 yards away at a bus station, police sources said. The death toll was expected to keep rising.

Unverified online photographs showed a large plume of smoke rising above the buildings as well as burnt out cars and bodies on the ground at the site of one of the blasts, including several children. Police and firefighters carried victims on stretchers and in their arms.

ISIS said it had attacked a gathering of special forces in Samawa, 140 miles south of the capital, with one car bomb and then blew up the second when security forces responded to the site.

ISIS holds positions mostly in Sunni areas of the country’s north and west, far from the mainly Shi’ite southern provinces where Samawa is located. Such attacks are relatively rare.

The rise of the ultra-hardline Sunni insurgents has exacerbated Iraq’s sectarian conflict, mostly between Shi’ites and Sunnis, which emerged after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

The quota-based governing system put in place by the United States at the time is being challenged by hundreds of protesters who camped out overnight in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone after storming the parliament building.

Meanwhile, two police officers were killed and 23 people wounded in a suicide car bomb attack on police headquarters in the south-eastern Turkish city of Gaziantep, the governor and police sources said, in one of two attacks on security forces on Sunday.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but security sources said police raided the home of a suspected ISIS militant believed to have carried out the attack and detained his father for DNA tests and questioning.

Nineteen police officers and four civilians were wounded in the attack, a statement from Gaziantep governor Ali Yerlikaya’s office said. One police officer died at the scene and a second in hospital, a security source said.

Turkey has suffered attacks recently both from Kurdish militants and ISIS fighters, raising uncertainty at home and among NATO allies about spillover of conflict from neighboring Syria.

Several hundred miles eastwards along the same border, in the town of Nusaybin, three Turkish soldiers were killed and 14 others wounded in an armed attack by Kurdish militants, an army statement said.

Turkey is facing security threats on several fronts. As part of a U.S.-led coalition, it is fighting ISIS in neighboring Syria and Iraq and battling Kurdish PKK militants in its southeast, where a 2-1/2-year ceasefire collapsed last July, triggering the worst violence since the 1990s.

A wave of suicide bombings this year, including two in its largest city Istanbul, have been blamed on ISIS, and two in the capital Ankara were claimed by a Kurdish militant group. The Sunni hardline group, which usually claims responsibility for its attacks has never done so in Turkey.

Last week a female suicide bomber blew herself up next to a mosque on a busy street in Turkey’s fourth largest city of Bursa, wounding eight people.

Turkey has also faced attacks from far-left groups, mostly on police and security forces.

In the meantime, US Secretary of State John Kerry is in Geneva in an attempt to bolster a fragile, partial ceasefire in Syria.

Mr Kerry is due to hold urgent talks on the situation with the UN envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, and the Saudi and Jordanian foreign ministers.

A top priority, he said, was ending the violence in the northern city of Aleppo.

More than 250 civilians have been killed in Aleppo in the last 10 days.

A Russian defence official said earlier that negotiations were taking place to establish a ceasefire there.

The US wants Russia to put pressure on its ally the Syrian government to stop what it says is indiscriminate bombardment.

The Russian and Syrian governments say the Aleppo strikes are targeting the Nusra Front – a jihadist force not party to a ceasefire agreed in February.

“We are talking directly to the Russians, even now,” Mr Kerry said on arrival in the Swiss city, as he began talks with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh.

“These are critical hours. We look for Russia’s co-operation. We obviously look for the regime to listen to Russia and to respond to the international communities’ powerful statement to the UN Security Council.”

The US secretary of state stressed that a UN Security Council Resolution called for a “full country, countrywide, cessation and also for all of the country to be accessible to humanitarian assistance”.

“Obviously that hasn’t happened and isn’t happening,” he said.

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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