President Barack Obama has been urged by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) to speak out on the extreme sectarian violence that has led to Christians being slaughtered in churches in Nigeria, following a meeting with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan.
"We respectfully urge you, Mr. President, to strongly address with President Jonathan the importance of the Nigerian government arresting and prosecuting the perpetrators of sectarian violence," USCIRF Chairman Robert P. George wrote to Obama on Monday before the meeting.
"The Nigerian government's overreliance on the use of force to tackle communal and Boko Haram violence and its failure to promote rule of law and human rights will only further destabilize this important ally." more >>
Loud explosions accompanied by plumes of smoke rocked the lower floors of Kenya's Westgate Shopping Mall on Monday as the country's security forces moved in on the site where al-Qaeda-linked Somali terrorists have held hostages since Saturday, killing a reported 62 people of various nationalities.
Gunfire and sporadic explosions were heard coming from the Nairobi shopping mall's supermarket, located on the lower floors, nearly an hour after Kenya's security forces declared that it had taken "control of all floors" from the terrorists. The plumes of smoke rising from the building were reportedly caused by militants inside the mall setting mattresses in the supermarket on fire to distract security forces, the country's Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku said at a press conference Monday. Lenku added that the blaze had been controlled.
Julius Karangi, chief of the Kenyan general staff, added that in spite of Monday's threatening blaze, Kenya's security forces continue to move forward on the mall to regain complete control of the area. He went on to say that the terrorists in the mall have no hope for escape as the large public area, consisting of more than 80 stores, supermarkets and banks, is completely surrounded by security forces. "We have no intention whatsoever of going backwards," Karangi said in a statement Monday, adding that the terrorists may surrender if they wish, according to Reuters. more >>
The FBI is investigating whether or not Americans were among the terrorists who killed at least 62 people in a deadly attack on a shopping mall in Nairobi. As of Monday morning, hostages were still being held, and firing between militants from the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab group and security forces continued.
A Twitter account, claiming to be a press feed from al Shabaab, named nine of the gunmen who launched an attack on Nairobi's Westgate Mall on the weekend that has left at least 62 dead (earlier report said 69 people were killed, but some bodies were counted twice, Kenyan Red Cross says) and more than 175 wounded. It said three of them are from the United States and one each from Canada, Finland and the United Kingdom.
While the authenticity of the Twitter feed has not been established, al Shabaab sources told CNN that Americans were among the alleged hostage-takers. A senior State Department official also said that authorities are becoming more confident that U.S. citizens were involved. more >>
Kenyan security forces and al-Qaeda-linked Islamists were in a standoff Sunday morning after gunmen killed 59 people – including a Canadian diplomat and the Kenyan president's nephew – and injured at least 175 others in an attack at an upscale shopping mall in Nairobi. About 30 hostages were still being held.
"We will punish the masterminds (of the attack) swiftly, and indeed very painfully," Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta told reporters Sunday afternoon.
An Islamist group from Somalia, al Shabaab, claimed responsibility for the assault at the Westgate mall in Nairobi, Reuters reported. The attackers were armed with AK-47 rifles and wore ammunition belts, according to witnesses. more >>
A prominent Egyptian political activist has said Copts in the region surrounding Delga village, Deir Mawas, Minya in northern Egypt were greatly encouraged when army and police forces came to their aid and arrested Islamist terrorist elements in the area.
Hamdi el-Assiouty added that extremists and terrorism activities in general were dealt a "major blow" in Upper Egypt where Copts are a main target for Islamic groups.
"The terrorist hotbed that existed in Delga was a group of organized terrorists armed with various and dangerous weapons, and the storming by security forces came after plans, studies and inquiries," Assiouty told Mideast Christian News. more >>
After security forces stormed the village of Delga earlier this week and arrested a number of extremists wanted for assaulting police and vandalizing local churches, Egypt's Islamic party Gamaat Islamiya threatened to target Copts in retaliation.
In a statement issued by its political arm, the Building and Development Party, it said: "Any harassment to Delga's locals will ignite a state of ill-feelings towards its Christian locals, which needs to be prevented."
"The crackdown on Delga was made due to its anti-coup stance … ," according to the statement. "This campaign has proved that all claims of weapons stashed in the village are lies, as according to its announcement there was little or no resistance." more >>