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Locust Invasion Spreads Across Six Counties in Kenya1 minute read

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The locust invasion that has ravaged vegetation and crops in parts of Somalia and the Kenyan counties of Garissa, Mandera and Wajir for a few weeks now has shown few signs of abating; in recent days, the pests have spread to Isiolo and Meru Counties.

Residents of Ndumuru in Igembe North, Meru County have reported spotting several colonies of the destructive pests in the area. More swarms of the locusts have also invaded neighbouring Garbatulla and Merti areas in Isiolo County.

Meru County’s biggest export is Miraa, known internationally as khat. Trade and export of the stimulant plant is a billion shilling industry and there are fears from farmers that the locusts will decimate the cash crop.

Kenyans have called upon the government, through the National Disaster Operatioins Center under the Ministry of Interior to intervene urgently to curb the spread of the pestilence. In response, the ministry says it has set in motion plans for aerial spraying of the affected regions.

Speaking to News Central, governement spokesperson, Col. (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna said, “the government has deployed both hand-held sprayers and aerial spraying capabilities to the counties. There are also ground controls teams that have equally been deployed to the counties. As of today, the counties affected are Wajir, Mandera, Marsabit, Garissa, Meru, and Isiolo. Large swarms have been sprayed in Wajir and Marsabit.”

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Nine airlifted from Mogadishu to Turkey following terrorist attack

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Nine people injured in a car bomb attack that occurred on Saturday in Afgoye, thirty kilometres north west of Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, were airlifted to Turkey on Tuesday morning for treatment. The airlift is the second medical evacuation of bomb attack victims in less than four weeks. Twenty one people were injured in the Afgoye attack that targeted Turkish construction workers who were having lunch with local police.

Turkey’s ambassador to Somalia, Mehmet Yilmaz confirmed that the nine to receive treatment in Turkey are three Turkish nationals and six Somalis. 

While speaking at a news conference in Mogadishu, he reiterated that his country would continue to support Somalia despite a spate of recent attacks by Islamist group… al-Shabaab. 

“This will not stop us from helping Somalia. We shall continue to work. Somalia and Turkey have good relations,” Yilmaz said.

A separate group of Turkish engineers constructing a road were among those hurt in a bombing that killed at least ninety people in December 2019.

On this matter, Somali Prime Minister, Hassan Ali Khaire, met with the Turkish ambassador to Somalia and other officials in Mogadishu. He assured of his government’s commitment to providing adequate security for Turkish nationals.

“We thank our Turkish brothers for their support. The Somali government will take any action necessary to ensure the security of Turkish nationals,” Hassan Ali Khaire said.

Turkey has been a major donor to the Horn of Africa nation since 2011. It is involved in various initiatives such as military training, infrastructure development of roads, hospitals and amenities as well as other donor efforts.

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U.S. conducts airstrike against al-Shabaab

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The U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), in support of the Federal Government of Somalia, conducted an airstrike against al-Shabaab terrorists who engaged the Somali National Army, Danab Unit, near Bangeeni on Sunday, January 19. According to a statement from AFRICOM, the airstrike killed three militants.   

“This airstrike targeted al-Shabaab fighters who pose a direct, immediate, and significant threat to our partner forces,” said Maj. Gen. William Gayler, the director of operation, U.S. Africa Command. “Al-Shabaab consists of terrorists and criminals who seek to export hate and violence more broadly. We remain committed to supporting our Somali partners and the security progress; together we are building in the region.”   

The US military unit stationed in Africa aims to provide auxiliary support to the government of Somalia and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to increase security and seize ground from the al-Qaeda-aligned al-Shabaab.

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Aston Villa sign Tanzania captain Mbwana Samatta

27-year-old becomes first Tanzanian to play in the English Premier League

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English Premier league side Aston Villa have completed the signing of Tanzanian striker Mbwana Samatta for £10m on a four-and-half-year deal, subject to a work permit and international clearance.

The 27-year-old scored 10 goals for Genk in all competitions this season including a goal against Liverpool at Anfield in the UEFA Champions League group stage.

Villa manager Dean Smith hailed the signing “I’m really pleased we have managed to bring Mbwana to the club, he has scored goals throughout his career and I’m looking forward to working with him.”

Samatta makes history as the first Tanzanian to play in the Premier League but will be unavailable for Villa’s home match against Watford on Tuesday.

Samatta who is captain of the Tanzanian national side expressed his joy at making the move “I’m so excited, it’s a huge step for me in my career. It’s a big step for the country too. Everyone was looking for a Tanzanian to play in the Premier League.

“I know a lot about Aston Villa. I used to watch Gabby Agbonlahor when he was here.”

Samatta is Villa’s third signing of the January transfer window following loan signings of midfielder Danny Drinkwater from Chelsea and goalkeeper Pepe Reina from AC Milan.

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