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Somalia car bomb deaths rise to 81 – Government Spokesman

“The overall number of the dead stands at 81 currently. Two more people died from their injuries,” Ismail Muktar, a government spokesman said.

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President of Somalia Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed speaks onstage during the 2019 Concordia Annual Summit - Day 1 at Grand Hyatt New York on September 23, 2019 in New York City. Riccardo Savi/Getty Images for Concordia Summit/AFP Riccardo Savi / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP

The Somalian government on Monday said the death toll in a massive car bomb that ripped through the capital Mogadishu at the weekend has risen to 81 as more rescue workers and families continue their search for victims and loved ones.

“The overall number of the dead stands at 81 currently. Two more people died from their injuries,” Ismail Muktar, a spokesman for Somalia’s information ministry, told AFP Monday.

One of the new fatalities was among the injured who had been evacuated to Turkey via a Turkish military plane on Sunday, Muktar said. 

The Somali official said the death toll could climb further as rescue operations entered a third day. 

The bombing Saturday at a busy intersection in Mogadishu was the country’s deadliest attack in two years.

No one has claimed responsibility, though President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed blamed Islamist group Al-Shabaab, which has regularly carried out car bombings and other attacks as part of its decade-long bid to topple the internationally-backed government.

Around two dozen people were listed as missing after the attack, but 12 have been located — five of them dead — and the rest remain unaccounted for, he said.

Some 125 people were injured in Saturday’s blast, a caseload that has overwhelmed health facilities in Mogadishu. 

At least 16 of those killed were students from the capital’s private Banadir University, who had been travelling on a bus when the car bomb detonated. 

The attack was the biggest to hit Somalia since a truck exploded in 2017 near a fuel tanker in Mogadishu, creating a fireball that killed over 500 people. 

Al-Shabaab was blamed for that strike too, though it never formally claimed responsibility — as it often does not do when there is a large amount of civilian casualties.

The United States military said Sunday it had killed four “terrorists” in three airstrikes targeting Al-Shabaab. 

US Africa Command (AFRICOM) said two militants were killed and two vehicles destroyed in Qunyo Barrow, while two more militants were killed in Caliyoow Barrow. 

The US regularly carries out airstrikes in Somalia, though the frequency of such operations has risen sharply this year. 

In an April statement AFRICOM said it had killed more than 800 people in 110 strikes in Somalia since April 2017.

East Africa News

Ethiopia, Tigray Forces Claim Victory As US Wades Into Crisis

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Tents belonging to Ethiopian refugees fleeing from the ongoing fighting in Tigray region, are seen at the Um-Rakoba camp, on the Sudan-Ethiopia border, in the Al-Qadarif state, Sudan November 23, 2020. Picture taken November 23, 2020. REUTERS/MOHAMED NURELDIN ABDALLAH/FILE PHOTO

Ethiopian government has said Tigrayan forces are surrendering in the face of an advancing country army. The TPLF forces has however rejected this and said they are on course for victory in their battle against Ethiopia, revealing they struck an important army division.

The Ethiopian government and Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) have had daggers drawn for almost a month.

Hundreds, comprising Ethiopians and Tigrayans have died since the conflict started. According to Reuters, at least 41,000 Ethiopian refugees are in Sudan.

The crisis has seen the African Union calling for a quick resolution between the warring parties.

On Monday, Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed gave the TPLF forces 72 hours to surrender or suffer a wreck. The UN in an instant reaction warned Ethiopia that it has the responsibility of protecting civilians and aid workers in the country.

FILE PHOTO: Debretsion Gebremichael, Tigray Regional President, attends the funeral ceremony of Ethiopia’s Army Chief of Staff Seare Mekonnen in Mekele, Tigray Region, Ethiopia June 26, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

Mekelle, the Tigrayan capital has about 500,000 inhabitants and they have been threatened with shelling if the TPLF forces fail to surrender.

TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael on Tuesday argued against the government version that Mekelle is encircled at a roughly 50km (31 mile) distance. He said it was plan of the government to run for cover when struck.

The United States has now reacted to the ongoing conflict and has advised that both parties sheathe their sword and embrace an amicable resolution. The US has also backed planned mediation of the African Union in the matter.

Abiy Ahmed has been accused of ethnic bias against the northern Tigray people. Ahmed, a Nobel Peace Prize winner comes from the Amhara group and has denied claims by Tigrayans linking his leadership to ethnic preference.

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East Africa News

Eight Die, 70,000 Displaced In Somalia As Cyclone Gati Rages

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Tropical Cyclone Gati, which made landfall on 22 November in Puntland’s Bari region in Somalia, has displaced 70,000 people, the UN says.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in news dispatch that the heavy rains and strong winds triggered flash floods along coastal and inland areas.

The hardest hit were 13 villages in the region.

Through its media wing, Reliefweb, the UN agency quoting local authorities, said eight people have been killed and an unknown number injured.

In Xaafuun and Hurdiya villages, about 15,000 people have been displaced to higher grounds within their neighbourhoods.

Massive damage to property and roads is reported. Telecommunication services have also been affected, especially in Xaafuun, Hurdiya and Baarmadowe.

In addition, shipping and fishing activities along the coastal areas of Bari and the Gulf of Aden have been disrupted, Reliefweb said in a situation update.

An estimated 30 fishermen who were at sea before the cyclone alert was issued were yet to be accounted for by Monday, 23 November.

The FAO-Somalia Water and Land Information Management (SWALIM) warned that the severity of the storm could increase as it passes over Somalia.

According to SWALIM, the storm poses an immediate threat to the shipping lane that links Somalia and the Gulf states.

Rapid assessments are being planned to determine actual needs and humanitarian partners are mobilising prepositioned stocks to assist affected people.

Local authorities and humanitarian partners are mobilising resources to assist people who have been hardest hit by the storm.

Humanitarian partners and Puntland authorities are planning responses beginning with a rapid assessment of needs in the affected areas.

In Somaliland, the National Disaster Preparedness and Food Reserve Authority has circulated precautionary messages and coastal guards are on stand by in case of evacuation.

In the coastal areas of Galmudug, local authorities and humanitarian partners are monitoring the situation.

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East Africa News

How Kenya is Leading Africa’s Geothermal Energy Production

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For any economy to reach maximum potential, energy production has to be optimum.

Its importance is depicted by the huge sum of money countries spend on producing energy for businesses, households and to power the nation.

No nation thrives without energy and that made Kenya’s ambitious target nine years ago a welcome idea.

In six years, Kenya has moved closer to seeing all its households have electricity supply through optimal geothermal energy production.

Since that same period, production has been three times higher than its previous best. From a previous figure of 198 Megawatts (MW), the country has produced 672MW and has provided electricity for 500,000 households.

The Menengaï Geothermal Development Project, with $108 million in funding from the African Development Bank, has helped to add another 105 MW of geothermal production capacity to the national electricity grid, with three private companies involved in the process.

For the project, 50 wells were targeted for the generation of maximum steam to produce more than 100 MW. Also, 49 wells had been drilled through the end of November 2019, generating a capacity of 169.9 MW.

Kenya is aiming higher than its estimated capacity and the results have been overwhelming. In addition to the wells and energy , CO2 emissions are expected to be reduced by 600,000 tonnes from 2022.

The Menengaï Geothermal Energy Project saw 94 staff members receiving training in drilling, contracting and financing, as well as health and safety management.

Women Powering Kenya’s Energy

Not less than 44% of trained members are women. In addition, 249 staff members of the Geothermal Development Society, including 93 women, received group training. The construction of the power plant benefits about 500,000 Kenyans, including 70,000 in rural areas of the country, as well as businesses and industries. More than 600 jobs have been created.

“The ultimate goal of the project was to help Kenya overcome severe electricity shortages caused by variability of hydropower generation, which forced the country to resort to expensive backup thermal production between 2011 and 2012, and which continued through 2018,” according to a Bank project completion report.

The dream, which was conceived in 2011 is on its way to becoming a reality and the country hopes to soon power its neighbouring African countries.

The adoption of the Low-Cost Electricity Development Plan for 2011-2031 was seen as a very ambitious plan for the country but work has gone into the belief.

The development plan was updated in 2017 as power generation capacity rose from 1,227 MW in 2010 to 3,751 MW in 2018.

While the nation is yet to meet its local demands, it is charting an exemplary course in the generation of geothermal energy.

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