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US air strike ‘kills 150 Somali militants’

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  • As Taliban Suicide Bomb Attack on Pakistan Court Kills at Least 10

A US air strike has killed more than 150 al-Shabab militants in Somalia, the Pentagon says.

Spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said the strike hit a training camp where a “large-scale” attack was being planned.

“We know they were going to be departing the camp and they posed an imminent threat to US and [African Union] forces,” Captain Davis said.

“Initial assessments are that more than 150 terrorist fighters were eliminated,” he added.

Mr Davis said the strike, by both drones and manned aircraft, took place on Saturday and targeted Raso Camp, a training facility about 120 miles (195km) north of the capital, Mogadishu.

The camp had been under surveillance for some time, according to Mr Davis. “There was a sense that the operational phase was about to happen,” he said.

He said the group had neared the completion of specialist training to conduct “offensive operations”, but did not give any details about the alleged plans.

Al-Shabab, an affiliate of al-Qaeda, was pushed out of Mogadishu by African Union peacekeeping forces in 2011 but has continued to launch frequent attacks in its bid to overthrow the Western-backed government.

The group has said it carried out a string of recent attacks including a twin bombing at a busy restaurant in the Somali city of Baidoa last month.

Also on Monday, the Australian navy said it had seized a huge cache of weapons on a fishing boat off the coast of Oman that was apparently heading for Somalia.

Grenade launchers, machine guns, and 2,000 assault rifles were concealed under fishing nets, a Navy spokesman said.

Crippling al-Shabab is top of a recently-announced US military strategy for Africa, which also includes addressing the situation in Libya and containing Boko Haram in West Africa. With drones from its nearby bases in neighbouring Djibouti, the US has succeeded in striking hard at the heart of al-Shabab operations, including killing Ahmed Godane, the leader of the jihadi group, in 2014.

The jihadis have since learned that they are often watched by surveillance aircraft and so they tend to meet under trees to avoid detection. This method has its limits, as this latest incident shows. They cannot train at will without being seen.

Al-Shabab maintains its determination to establish its rule over Somalia, hence its resilience and increasingly sophisticated attacks. The group is suspected to be behind an explosion at a security checkpoint at the Beledweyne airport which could have been more lethal had the explosives got aboard an airliner.

In the meantime, at least 10 people were killed Monday in a suicide attack on a court complex in northwest Pakistan.

A Pakistan Taliban splinter group claimed responsibility for the attack, which occurred in the Shabqadar neighborhood of Charsadda in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. A spokesman for Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaatul Ahrar (TTP-JA) said it carried out the killings to avenge the hanging of a death-row prisoner regarded by some as a hero of Islam.

“A suicide bomber tried to enter the judicial complex but he blew himself up at the main entrance when police stopped him,” local police chief Sohail Khalid told NBC News.

The dead included four women and two police officials while 27 others people were injured, he said.

“The police responded very well and one of them tried to physically overpower him and stop him from entering the main place where hundreds of people including judges, lawyers and others were present,” Khalid said.

At least 9 of the injured were taken to the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar, spokesman Jamil Shah said. ‎”We declared an emergency at the hospital to provide better treatment to victims of the blast,” he said. “‎We received ‎nine injured, including two females, two males, two children. One lady died of her injuries.”

‎The area where the blast took place is close to Mohmand tribal region where TTP-JA has been involved in attacks against the Pakistani security forces and government installations.

Ehsanullah Ehsan, a spokesman for the group, said it Monday’s attack was meant to avenge the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri, who killed former Punjab governor Salman Taseer in the name of defending Islam. Taseer had been accused of blasphemy.

“The judiciary has brought itself in confrontation with the Taliban,” he said. “Qadri’s sacrifice will not go into waste. More attacks on judiciary are planned.”

BBC with additional report from NBC

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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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