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15 killed in an attack on a hotel in the Somali capital Mogadishu

Gorkha Post

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MOGADISHU — At least 15 people have been killed in an attack on a hotel in the Somali capital Mogadishu that was swiftly claimed by Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al Shabaab militants, police said.

The death toll includes guards, civilians and militants.

A suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden vehicle at the gate of a hotel in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, which was followed by a second explosion as gunmen fought their way inside the building.

Armed group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attack on the Nasa Hablod hotel in a statement distributed through social networks online.

A spokesman for Al Shabaab said the death toll was at least 20 guards and civilians — numbers of casualties cited by the Government are often lower than those reported by Al Shabaab.

The assault was led by a suicide attacker driving a car laden with explosives, Al Shabaab said in a statement distributed through the Telegram smartphone app.

The Naasa Hablood hotel in southern Mogadishu is often used by politicians and members of the Somali diaspora visiting the city.

Somali security forces cordoned off access to the neighbourhood in which the hotel is located, an AFP photographer said.

Saturday’s attack came just three weeks after another assault quickly claimed by Al Shabaab on the city’s Ambassador hotel left 10 dead, including two MPs, when a huge car bomb ripped the front off the six-storey building.

Agencies

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South Korea to announce joint military drill plan with US before April

Thompson Reuters

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SEOUL — South Korea and the United States will announce plans before April for a postponed joint military drill, South Korea’s defense minister said on Tuesday.

Seoul and Washington had agreed to postpone the regular joint military exercise until after the Winter Olympics and Paralympics being hosted in South Korea, which end on March 18.

After the decision to delay the joint exercise, North Korea agreed to hold the first official talks with South Korea in more than two years and send athletes to the Winter Games, easing a standoff over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programmes.

Asked when the two countries will hold the postponed drill, Song Young-moo told parliament he and his U.S. counterpart, Jim Mattis, would make an announcement between March 18 and the start of April.

“The exercise was postponed according to the spirit of the Olympics,” Song said. “We have agreed to uphold the basis until after the Paralympics…and not to confirm nor deny anything regarding what we would do after that until we announce it”.

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Song added inter-Korean talks had not come about as a direct result of the postponed drill.

But North Korea has warned it would not sit idle if the United States and South Korea push ahead with the postponed military exercises.

North Korea denounces the drills as preparations to invade it, and it has at times conducted missile tests or taken other aggressive action in response.

The South Korean and US militaries usually hold military exercises called Key Resolve and Foal Eagle in March and April, which can involve as many as 17,000 US troops and more than 300,000 South Koreans.

South Korea’s Unification Minister Cho Myong-gyon said talks to stage the postponed military drill were moving forward.

“I am aware negotiations are moving towards a direction where the drills will be held,” Cho said in a separate parliamentary session on Tuesday, without elaborating.

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