20 dead from 4 car bombs in So­ma­lia's cap­i­tal

Tulsa World - - Front Page - By Farah Abdi Warsameh and Abdi Guled forces

MO­GADISHU, So­ma­lia — Four car bombs by Is­lamic ex­trem­ists ex­ploded out­side a ho­tel in the cap­i­tal, Mo­gadishu, Fri­day af­ter­noon killing at least 20 peo­ple and in­jur­ing 17, said po­lice.

Af­ter the three ex­plo­sions in front of the ho­tel, a fourth blast hit as medics at­tempted to res­cue the in­jured.

The sui­cide bombs det­o­nated near the perime­ter wall of the Sa­hafi Ho­tel, which is lo­cated across the street from the So­mali Po­lice Force's Crim­i­nal In­ves­ti­ga­tions Depart­ment, said Capt. Mo­hamed Hus­sein.

Some of the vic­tims were burned be­yond recog­ni­tion when one car bomb ex­ploded next to a minibus, he said.

So­mali se­cu­rity shot dead four gun­men who tried to storm through a hole blown into the ho­tel's wall but did not suc­ceed in en­ter­ing, he said.

“Al­though they failed to ac­cess the ho­tel, the blasts out­side the ho­tel killed many peo­ple,” said Hus­sein.

“The street was crowded with peo­ple and cars, bod­ies were ev­ery­where,” said Hus­sein Nur, a shop­keeper who suf­fered light shrap­nel in­juries on his right hand.

So­ma­lia's Is­lamic ex­trem­ist rebels, al-Shabab, claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the bombs, ac­cord­ing to the group's Adalus ra­dio sta­tion.

Among the dead was the man­ager of the Sa­hafi Ho­tel, whose fa­ther was the owner of the ho­tel be­fore he was killed in an al-Shabab at­tack on the es­tab­lish­ment in 2015, said po­lice Capt. Hus­sein.

WASH­ING­TON — China bluntly told the United States to stop send­ing ships and mil­i­tary air­craft close to is­lands claimed by Bei­jing in the South China Sea, dur­ing talks Fri­day that set the stage for a meet­ing be­tween Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping later this month.

The U.S. pushed back, in­sist­ing it will con­tinue to “fly, sail and op­er­ate wher­ever in­ter­na­tional law al­lows.” In late Septem­ber, U.S. and Chi­nese ves­sels nearly col­lided near a dis­puted reef.

De­spite the frank air­ing of dif­fer­ences at the meet­ing in Wash­ing­ton of the two na­tions' top diplo­mats and mil­i­tary chiefs, both sides stressed the need to tamp down ten­sions, which have flared amid a bit­ter trade dis­pute that Trump and Xi are ex­pected to tackle at the Group of 20 sum­mit in Ar­gentina.

“The United States is not pur­su­ing a pol­icy of Cold War con­tain­ment with China,” Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo told re­porters fol­low­ing the U.S.-China Diplo­matic and Se­cu­rity Di­a­logue. “Rather we want to en­sure that China acts re­spon­si­bly and fairly in sup­port of se­cu­rity and pros­per­ity of each of our two coun­tries.”

The talks were due to be held in Bei­jing last month but were post­poned af­ter Wash­ing­ton an­nounced new arms sales to Tai­wan, and af­ter a Chi­nese de­stroyer came close to the USS De­catur in late Septem­ber in what the U.S. Navy called an “un­safe and un­pro­fes­sional ma­neu­ver.” Bei­jing has sweep­ing but dis­puted sovereignty claims in the area.

“The Chi­nese side made it clear to the United States that it should stop send­ing its ves­sels and mil­i­tary air­craft close to Chi­nese is­lands and reefs and stop ac­tions that un­der­mine Chi­nese au­thor­ity and se­cu­rity in­ter­ests,” said Pom­peo's Chi­nese coun­ter­part, Yang Jiechi, who also had sharp words over U.S. sup­port for Tai­wan.

How­ever, Yang and Chi­nese de­fense min­is­ter Wei Fenghe spoke of the need to im­prove co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the U.S. and Chi­nese mil­i­taries, to ease the risk of con­flict as the two pow­ers jockey for pre-emi­nence in the Asia-Pa­cific.

“Co­op­er­a­tion is the only op­tion for us,” Wei said. “Con­fronta­tion and con­flict be­tween the two mil­i­taries will spell dis­as­ter for us all.”

De­fense Sec­re­tary Jim Mat­tis as­serted U.S. rights to free­dom of nav­i­ga­tion but also said the two sides should work to­gether on areas of com­mon in­ter­est. “Com­pe­ti­tion does not mean hos­til­ity. Nor must it lead to con­flict,” Mat­tis said.

Al­though the reschedul­ing of the di­a­logue sig­naled an ef­fort to con­tain the slide in the re­la­tion­ship, it did not ad­dress the core dis­pute on trade. Trump has slapped tar­iffs on $250 bil­lion in Chi­nese prod­ucts, in a push to nar­row the U.S. trade deficit and push back against what the U.S. views as preda­tory Chi­nese tac­tics on the high tech­nol­ogy in­dus­try. Bei­jing has re­tal­i­ated with tar­iffs on $110 mil­lion worth of U.S. goods.

On hu­man rights, Pom­peo voiced con­cern over China's treat­ment of re­li­gious mi­nori­ties, in­clud­ing the mass de­ten­tion of mi­nor­ity Uighur Mus­lims.

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