Saturday, 30 August 2014
Sunday, August 31, 2014
The assault was part of the second phase of an offensive launched earlier this year to drive the rebels out of towns which they have continued to hold since losing control of the capital Mogadishu in 2011.
Al Shabaab ruled most of the southern region of Somalia from 2006 until 2011 when African troops marched into the capital. African and Somali forces have regained several towns this year, but rebels still hold other centers and tracts of countryside.
"We secured Bulamareer town today. We have chased the al Shabaab and the operation will continue until its goals of securing the entire country is achieved," Abdirizak Khalif, Somalia's deputy military commander, told Reuters.
He did not give casualty figures, but a spokesman for the African Union force AMISOM, Colonel Ali Aden Houmed, said a Ugandan soldier was killed and two soldiers wounded. He said many rebels were killed but was not able to give a number.
Bulamareer lies about 80 km (50 miles) north of Barawe port, a major al Shabaab stronghold.
AMISOM's Houmed said Barawe was "one of our objectives" but said AMISOM and Somali forces had other targets on the way to Barawe that had to be dealt with first.
The rebels, which continue to stage hit-and-run gun and bomb attacks in the capital and across the country, acknowledged that their fighters had pulled out of the center of Bulamareer.
"After a serious fight with AMISOM and government forces inside Bulamareer town we went to the fringes of the town, but we shall keep up attacks and battles," Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab's military operations spokesman, told Reuters.
He claimed 18 African soldiers were killed and three of their vehicles burned, but made no mention of rebel casualties.
Even as they have lost ground, the Islamist group which wants to impose its own strict version of Islam on the Horn of Africa nation has continued to harass African and government forces and blocked aid supply routes to towns they have lost.
Government officials have admitted that centers they have regained have often turned into "ghost towns" because many people flee as food and other supplies run out. Houmed said the new offensive aimed to prevent a repeat of this scenario.
The assault on Bulamareer began before dawn on Saturday. Many residents had fled before the assault began as AMISOM and the Somali forces had warned of an imminent attack, Houmed said.
Earlier this week, the joint African and Somali force retook another town, Teyeeglo, which lies in the Bakool region, which lies northwest of Saturday's fighting and near the Ethiopian border. That offensive involved Ethiopian forces.
AMISOM is a 22,000-strong African Union force that includes troops from Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Sierra Leone.
(Additional reporting by Feisal Omar; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Stephen Powell)
The terrorist threat posed by Islamist extremists is as much a concern for countries in mainland Europe as it is for the UK, David Cameron has said.
The prime minister and Nick Clegg are expected to discuss plans for new measures to tackle the threat.
Their talks come after the UK's terror threat level was raised to "severe" from "substantial" in response to the deepening conflict in Iraq and Syria.
Labour has called for more action to stop Britons being drawn to extremism.
Mr Cameron will make a Commons statement on Monday, proposing new powers to stop would-be terrorists travelling abroad.
He has urged European leaders in Brussels to take co-ordinated action to tackle the group calling itself Islamic State (IS), which has seized swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq.
Speaking before the meeting, he said: "Today in Brussels is an opportunity to talk with other EU leaders and to make sure we all co-ordinate to stop people travelling to Iraq and Syria to stop radicalisation, to confront extremism."
He had previously said the "threat is growing" from Britons travelling to fight with IS, adding that there were "gaps in our armoury" that needed to be strengthened.
The new alert level rates the risk of an attack on the UK as "highly likely", although Downing Street said there was no evidence to suggest one is "imminent".
The rating is the second highest of five possible UK threat levels and is the highest since 2011.
Labour leader Ed Miliband has suggested the introduction of a "mandatory programme" of deradicalisation for people "drawn into the fringes of extremism".
Writing in the Independent, he also urged the government to revisit the decision to scrap the control orders regime for terror suspects.Liberty
Talks between Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg, the deputy prime minster and Liberal Democrat leader, come after the Conservatives said they wanted to make it easier to seize the passports of would-be terrorists travelling abroad.
The home secretary already has the power - under the Royal Prerogative - to withhold a passport if it is in the public interest to stop somebody travelling.
Mr Cameron is also likely to consider strengthening terrorism prevention and investigation measures - or Tpims - which were the coalition's replacement for control orders.
However, the Liberal Democrats have said they would only agree to policies that were made calmly, on the basis of evidence and that maintained the liberty of British citizens.
A Lib Dem source said Mr Clegg and the prime minister were in "constant communication" on the issue, adding that the party "will consider very carefully any new proposals that are put to us".'Bombs and rockets'
BBC political correspondent Louise Stewart said powers to withhold passports had been used 23 times since April 2013, but she said the PM could seek to strengthen those powers.
She said the government could not - following a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights - make somebody "stateless" by refusing them re-entry to Britain, if they had no other passport.
"The sticking point with the Liberal Democrats is they have been against introducing more surveillance measures but say that any new measures would have to be brought in on an evidence basis and it would have to be purely for the safety and security of the British public," our correspondent said.
Former Liberal Democrat leader Lord Ashdown has argued that diplomacy is vital to limit the risk from jihadists.
"I think we have got to get away from this idea which says that in response to everything in the Middle East our answer is bombs and rockets," he said.
Lord Ashdown added that the government was unwise to concentrate on the "threat of jihadis coming home".
He warned that the bigger threat was a potential "regional war" in the Middle East, which would be religious and result in the changing of borders.
Former Conservative minister Sir David Mitchell has died aged 86 following a long illness, his family has said.
Sir David served under Margaret Thatcher in various departments including transport, industry and Northern Ireland.
He was MP for Hampshire North West from 1964 to 1997 and died at home in Odiham, Hampshire, earlier.
His son, Tory MP Andrew Mitchell, resigned from the cabinet in 2012 over the so-called Plebgate affair.
Three people have become the first confirmed to find 24-carat gold treasure buried on a beach in Kent.
Kevin Wood, his partner Kirsty Henderson and her sister Megan found a £500 gold bar in Folkestone after digging for an hour at low tide.
German artist Michael Sailstorfer buried £10,000 worth of bullion as part of Folkestone Triennial arts festival.
The trio travelled from their home in Canterbury to join the gold rush on Friday.
Describing the moment he struck the precious metal, Mr Wood, 28, said: "My legs went from under me and I started shaking.
"I put it quietly in my pocket. We left the beach and half-way home, we pulled over for a drink."
The Folkestone Digs project is part of the town's arts festival which has included work by artists including Tracey Emin, Jeremy Deller and Martin Creed in previous years.
Artists including Yoko One are taking part in this year's festival which runs until November 2.
Curator Lewis Biggs said the beach had been full since it was announced on Thursday the gold had been buried.
"There are always people digging on the beach but there's a lot more digging on the beach now," he said.
"When it's at high tide there are maybe 50 people, when it's low tide maybe 1,000.
"There are a lot of people coming and going of all ages - families, dedicated people with metal detectors, people with lights on their heads all night.
"It's been fun down there."
It is not known how many other people may have found the gold bars.
"What you find is yours and you can tell other people or not," said Mr Biggs.
"You can stick it in your sock and take it home so we will never know if they have all been found or not."
A seven-year-old boy died and four members of his family were seriously injured when their car was in collision with a lorry in Kent.
Police said the family, from Leeds, were on the London-bound carriageway of the A20 at Saltwood when the crash happened at 09:30 BST on Friday.
The boy was pronounced dead at the scene. Two other children and their parents were flown to London hospitals.
Kent Police said the two children remain in a critical condition.
Both parents are in a stable stable condition. The lorry driver, who was taken to a local hospital, suffered hand injuries and is also said to be stable.
Police have appealed for any witnesses to the crash near Hythe, between the family's Kia Soul car and a DAF lorry, to come forward.
A spokesman said officers had now traced and spoken to the driver of a blue vehicle who stopped at the scene to help direct traffic.
The A20 was closed in both directions until 14:40.
A 16-month-old baby has died in a car in Switzerland, after one of the parents forgot to drop it off at the nursery on the way to work.
The baby was left in a company car park for several hours in La Chaux-de-Fonds near the French border, officials say.
"It was not until the end of the day... that they realised what had happened," AFP news agency quotes local prosecutor Marc Remy as saying.
A criminal investigation into the accident has been launched.
Prosecutors told Swiss media that no further details would be released.