Protesters attack US embassy in Baghdad after airstrikes

By Kareem Khadder, Arwa Damon and Angela Dewan, CNN

Protesters attacked the US Embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday, scaling the walls and forcing the gates of the compound, as hundreds demonstrated against American airstrikes on an Iran-backed militia group in Iraq.

Two sources at the demonstration witnessed the attempt to break into the premises adding that security personnel fired tear gas to repel the attackVideo footage shows demonstrators smashing windows, burning items outside and throwing rocks over the walls.
Protesters at the US embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday.

The embassy, in Baghdad’s green zone, has been put under lockdown, but protesters have not been able to breach the compound, an embassy spokesperson told CNN.
US ambassador to Iraq Matthew Tueller has been on vacation for more than a week, the spokesperson added.
It is not clear how many people are inside the embassy, but it is the US’ largest diplomatic mission in the world, with around 16,000 staff. The compound covers around 100 acres, around the same size as the Vatican City.
The pro-Iranian demonstrators were mostly from Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), a coalition of predominantly Shiite militias. Three leaders of powerful militia groups were also seen at the protest, including Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who heads the Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah, targeted by the American strikes on Sunday.
The strikes and protests come at a time of high tensions between the US and Iran, and have stoked fears of a new proxy war in the Middle East.
Iraqi protesters set a sentry box ablaze in front of the US embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday.

The US carried out five airstrikes in Iraq and Syria on facilities controlled by Kataib Hezbollah, killing at least 25 people and wounding 51, in the first significant US military response to Kataib Hezbollah’s weeks of deadly rocket attacks on US-Iraqi targets.
US officials said the strikes were carried out with F-15 Strike Eagle fighter planes and targeted weapons storage facilities and command and control locations used by Kataib Hezbollah. The Pentagon said the locations had been used “to plan and execute attacks” on joint US-Iraq forces.

Trump blames Iran

US President Donald Trump confirmed Tuesday that the airstrikes were a response to a recent attack that killed a US contractor. He blamed Iran both for the contractor’s death and Tuesday’s attack on the embassy.
“Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many. We strongly responded, and always will. Now Iran is orchestrating an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. They will be held fully responsible. In addition, we expect Iraq to use its forces to protect the Embassy, and so notified!” Trump tweeted.
Washington has tightened the economic squeeze on Tehran this year through its “maximum pressure” campaign, while Iran has responded with what it calls for “maximum resistance,” including reducing its compliance to the international nuclear deal. The Trump administration pulled the US out of that deal in May 2018, sparking a campaign of provocation between the two nations.
The airstrikes and embassy attack have also created new tensions between allies Washington and Baghdad, with Iraqi police and soldiers among the killed and wounded. They come at a time of unrest as mass protests across Iraq challenge the nation’s precarious government.
Baghdad warned Monday that its relations with the US were at risk following the strikes. Questions have also been raised as to whether Iraqi forces allowed the protesters to reach the US Embassy, a highly fortified building in a ares that is usually restricted.
Iraqi protesters try to storm the US Embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke with Iraq’s embattled Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi and President Barham Salih on Tuesday, the State Department said in a statement.
“The Secretary made clear the United States will protect and defend its people, who are there to support a sovereign and independent Iraq. Both Abdul-Mahdi and Salih assured the Secretary that they took seriously their responsibility for and would guarantee the safety and security of US personnel and property,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said.
Abdul-Mahdi earlier called on protestors to leave the area around the embassy, warning them against acts of aggression.
“We ask everyone to immediately leave these places, and we recall that any aggression or harassment of foreign embassies and representations are an act that will be strictly prohibited by the security forces and will be punished by law with the most severe penalties,” Abdul Mahdi said in a statement.
But he also described those killed in the US airstrikes as “martyrs” and supported a funeral for them in the capital’s streets.

Zimbabwe: ‘Mashurugwi’ Kill Armed Police Officer During Kadoma Mine Invasion

A JUNIOR police officer was killed when a machete wielding gang, commonly referred to as Mashurugwi, attacked some armed police details who were guarding a Kadoma mine owned by an ally to President Emmerson Mnangagwa Saturday afternoon.

In a memorandum, police have reported the death of Constable Wonder Hokoyo (27) after a vicious attack by the gang at Good Hope Mine Brompton owned by former Muzvezve MP Peter Haritatoes.

According to police at Battlefields, Hokoyo and four of his colleagues were deployed at the mine after reports of a gold rush and invasion of the mine by the gang.

The unknown number of suspects, who are still at large, had allegedly invaded the mine armed with machetes, catapults and axes.

Hokoyo and his colleagues who were guarding the property reacted to the invasion through firing into the air, warning shots which were ignored by the gang.

The slain police officer was attacked with a log and fell to the ground as the gang overpowered the officers.

The gang, according to police, further attacked other officers who fled the mine fearing for their lives.

However, Hokoyo was not so lucky as he was struck all over his body with machetes and axes.

“Hokoyo later died of injuries sustained during the attack as his body was found in a pool of blood near the mine shafts,” reads the police memo.

“He sustained a broken left leg, broken right knee, a deep cut on the head and a swollen head was observed.”

His body was taken to Kadoma General Hospital morgue.

Another officer only identified as Constable Kamhuka is admitted at Kadoma Hospital and is reportedly in a stable condition.

Police recovered some weapons which included the log, two FN rifles with magazines of 2 and 3 rounds.

The machete wielding gangs have been causing havoc in the country and government seems to be failing to control the militia-like men who are killing people in mining communities confiscating gold by force from artisanal miners.

Promises for stiffer penalties on those convicted have been promised but Norton MP Temba Mliswa says government officials mostly in Zanu PF who control some mining claims have a hand in the attacks.

US civilian contractor killed, multiple servicemen injured in rocket attack on Iraqi base near Kirkuk – reports

US civilian contractor killed, multiple servicemen injured in rocket attack on Iraqi base near Kirkuk – reports
An American civilian contractor was killed and several service members lightly wounded when several rockets struck an Iraqi military base near Kirkuk, US officials confirmed on condition of anonymity.

The Iraqi military confirmed earlier that multiple service members, including a US contractor and an Iraqi federal police officer, were wounded when “a number of missiles” struck a munitions storage facility in K1 military base on Friday evening.

According to one official, the rockets hit as a “major” mission was getting underway. K1 is located just northwest of Kirkuk, in northern Iraq.

ALSO ON RT.COMSix servicemen wounded after rockets hit base of Iraq military & US forcesNo group has claimed responsibility for the attack. However, while Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorists are actively operating in the area using insurgency-style tactics, recent rocket attacks on bases housing American troops have been pinned without evidence on “Iranian proxies.”

Washington’s latest round of sanctions against Tehran came complete with an accusation of “weapons of mass destruction proliferation,” while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo several weeks ago threatened Iran with a “decisive US response” if attacks against American interests in Iraq continue.

Dozens killed in Mogadishu car bomb attack

Dozens killed in Mogadishu car bomb attack
There were conflicting reports about the number of casualties from a car bomb explosion in Mogadishu [Feisal Omar/Reuters]

At least 78 people have been killed and more than 100 wounded in a car bomb attack in the Somali capital Mogadishu on Saturday, authorities said.

“The number of the dead from the blast is still increasing, we now have 78 dead and 125 injured,” the director of the private Aamin Ambulance service, Abdukadir Abdirahman Haji, told AFP news agency.

Police officer Mohamed Hussein said the blast targeted a tax collection centre during the morning rush hour.

Those wounded include children and several university students who had been travelling in a bus, Hussein said.


There were conflicting reports about the number of casualties. Speaking to Al Jazeera, the adviser to Mogadishu’s mayor said the death toll “is above 90 at the moment”.

“There are many casualties as well so the death toll is expected to rise,” Hodan Ali said, adding that the explosion took place at the Ex-Control junction.

Al Jazeera’s Haru Mutasa said Somali police officers were among the casualties.

“We can expect more injuries and casualties once these numbers are officially tallied,” she said, speaking from Nairobi. “A lot of officials are saying their priority is to try to help those who have been injured, trying to get them to hospitals as quickly as possible and then, of course, count the dead.”

Bashiir Maxmud@BashiirMaxmud

Suicide-bomber driving a car laden with explosives detonates at ’s Ex-control Afgoye. Casualties of this horrific blast is yet to clarify. .

Embedded video

71 people are talking about this

Rescuers carried bodies past the twisted wreckage of a vehicle and a minibus taxi smeared with blood.

Three witnesses told Reuters news agency that a small team of Turkish engineers was present at the time of the blast at the Ex-Control checkpoint, constructing a road to the city.

A car belonging to the engineers was destroyed instantly in the blast, the witnesses said.

Somali Foreign Minister Ahmed Awad later tweeted that two of the Turkish engineers died in the blast.

Many of the dead were “students with ambition, and hardworking men and women”, he wrote.

Turkey’s foreign ministry confirmed the death of two of its nationals.

‘Scattered dead bodies’

Bodies lay on the ground amid the blackened skeletons of vehicles. At a hospital, families and friends picked through dozens of the dead, gingerly lifting sheets to peer at faces, while hundreds of Mogadishu residents began to donate blood in response to desperate appeals.

Sakariye Abdukadir, who was near the area when the car bomb detonated, said the blast “destroyed several of my car windows”.

“All I could see was scattered dead bodies … amid the blast and some of them burned beyond recognition.”

Paramedics and civilians assist a man injured in a car bomb explosion at a security checkpoint as he arrives to a hospital in Mogadishu
Paramedics and civilians assist a man injured in a car bomb explosion at a security checkpoint as he arrives at a hospital in Mogadishu [Feisal Omar/Reuters]

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast.

President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo condemned the attack as a “heinous act of terror” and blamed the al-Shabab armed group.

Al-Shabab, which once controlled much of the country, was forced out of Mogadishu in 2011 and has since lost most of its other strongholds. But its fighters regularly attack sites in Somalia and neighbouring Kenya, which has troops in Somalia to battle the armed group.

The attack raises concerns about the readiness of Somali forces to take over responsibility for the country’s security from an African Union force in the coming months.

Somalia has been riven by conflict since a civil war broke out in 1991, but has stabilised somewhat in recent years.

A man assists a civilian injured at the scene of a car bomb explosion at a checkpoint in Mogadishu
A man assists a civilian injured at the scene of a car bomb explosion at a checkpoint in Mogadishu [Feisal Omar/Reuters]


Fourteen troops killed in Niger ambush


Fourteen members of security forces in Niger have been killed after “heavily armed terrorists” ambushed their convoy, the government has said.

Another guard is still missing from the Wednesday attack in the southwestern village of Sanam, the interior ministry said in a statement on Thursday.


Security forces had been escorting a team to a voter registration office at the time of the ambush. It is not known how many of the assailants were killed, but the statement referred to “many losses”.

It added that the team was “secured and returned to Sanam safe and sound” following the attack.

Nigerien troops have been fighting Boko Haram on the southeast border with Nigeria and armed groups allied with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (also known as ISIS or ISIL) in the west near Mali.

Dozens of people have been killed by armed groups in a series of attacks in West Africa in December.

On December 10, 71 soldiers were killed in Niger’s Tillaberi region when hundreds of armed fighters attacked a military camp with shelling and mortars.

Niger struggles to combat armed groups in the Sahel (2:21)

Burkina Faso has also been heavily affected, with more than 100 people killed in hostilities in the north this week, according to officials. A fresh attack early on Wednesday left an army patrol of at least 11 soldiers dead near Hallale in the north, local station Radio Omega said.

A day before, some 35 civilians and seven soldiers were killed after an attack and exchanges of gunfire in the north of the country, while the army said it had “neutralised” 80 attackers.

A number of armed groups are active in the Sahel states – an area that extends south of the Sahara from the Atlantic to the Red Sea – some of which have sworn allegiance to ISIL or al-Qaeda.

Niger is part of a five-nation force known as the G5, set up in 2014 with Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Chad to fight armed groups.


What’s behind the upsurge in violence in the Sahel?